Improve Your Sluggish Netbook with ReadyBoost

Last Updated May 4, 2010 11:49 PM EDT

One of the downsides to using a netbook is that these small PCs perform much more modestly than their big laptop cousins. If you feel stymied by your netbook -- especially when starting applications or multitasking -- then you might be able to use the ReadyBoost feature in Windows 7 to eke out a little better performance without investing much money.

Of course, for this hack to work, you'll need Windows 7. ReadyBoost is a feature that caches information on a flash memory card so your netbook doesn't need to hit the hard drive as frequently. To use it, you'll need a fast, modern flash card. If you have an older card, it might not be fast enough, and Windows will let you know that ReadyBoost won't work.

I recommend that you use an SD Card -- it's handy, because it can be left permanently in the PC. Alternately, you can use a thumb drive, but that can be a pain because you'll probably need to remove it when you lug the netbook around (since it sticks out of the case).

Using ReadyBoost is a snap. Insert your flash card in the netbook and wait for the AutoPlay dialog to appear. Choose Speed up my system using Windows ReadyBoost.

When the flash card's properties dialog appears, make sure you're on the ReadyBoost tab and then choose Use this device. You'll probably want to allocate the entire card to ReadyBoost. Then click OK, and you're in business.

You probably won't see a huge difference, but ReadyBoost can make your netbook a little snappier.