Here I am looking at two such devices one by San Disk and the other by Kingston Technology. I have no doubt that numerous other such devices are out there. The only proviso as far as Vista is concerned is that it needs to be a USB2 device so that data can be moved quickly. The whole purpose is to store all the small files available for quick access. This means that a 1GB Vista system backed up by say a 2GB Memory Stick allows a lot better performance than that you will get without the Memory Stick.
SanDisk Ready Boost
Unlike the US launch of Vista where journalists were allegedly showered with items all the UK journalists received was 21x15cm folded piece of card with a 2GB San Disk Ready Boost memory stick. This can be read in any Windows PC and no doubt this is fortunate as few of us had Vista PC's at that time. All the various launch material was on it.
However once Vista PC's and notebooks started to filter through and it was plugged into them you got a further option that allowed you to set aside a portion (or all) available memory for Vistas use. In the case of the SanDisk this means a continual green glow while the PC is turned on.
Any files already on the stick are still available but if you have devoted all the remaining space to the Vista cache only those files are seen. As far as I can tell only one such disc can be allocated to Vista at any time. It is possible to remove one and attach another. I would suggest that this is done while Windows is off but I am assured that the contents are mirrored on the PC so if it is disconnected while the PC is on nothing will be lost but access may well be slowed.
This is a very small unit at only 5cm long less than 2cm wide and less than .5cm thick. The model I have is 2GB but they do have other sizes. A 4G version is available for around £10 including shipping from Amazon, while an 8G Cruzer will cost around £15 :
Kingston Data Traveller Ready Flash
The Kingston unit is a little larger in size at 6.5cm long, just under 2cm wide and around .7cm thick. It is also 2GB in size. It comes in one of those clear plastic units that need industrial scissors to open and while the contents are stated to be a 'high speed flash drive' it will certainly not be high speed getting access to the stick.
Once the stick goes into a USB drive you find there is one visible file a PDF file available to read in seventeen languages. With the amount of information about how Vista utilizes these devices this file is worth at least a cursory glance.
The minimum amount that Vista needs from one of these devices is 512MB so unless you have a 1GB one then their only use will be to store and transfer as with any normal stick drive. I doubt any Vista machine will have less than USB2 drives but that is another requirement - for the speed of access - When you attach it to a Windows Vista system (that does not already have another stick drive utilized for this purpose) the auto menu will have another option saying 'Speed Up My System' you are then taken to a screen that allows you to set the amount of available memory it should use, by default this will be 90%. If at anytime you wish to stop using the device it is just as simple right click on it and from properties select 'Do not use this device'.
The Kingston Data Traveller is available in a range of sizes with a 2G version costing around £10 including shipping and an 8G version around £15 :
Both the SanDisk and Kingston offerings are branded products and as such carry a premium but remember a stick drive costs a fraction of what extra memory in the PC does. Also a lot of PC's running Vista that are upgraded are already fully populated so extra memory is not an option.
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