Microsoft's ReadyBoost for Vista claims to improve performance by creating a cache on your removable storage - i.e. - thumbdrive, SD card, CF card, etc. In theory, your operating system will access the cache on the removable media instead of accessing the hard drive. In practical application, I was unable to see any performance boost while using ReadyBoost. I benchmarked the boot time and application execution and saw no advantage.
eBoostr claims to improve boot times and application load times. I contacted Andrew, who handles the PR for eBoostr. He kindly provided a license key for eBoostr so I can do a thorough objective review.
I also had a few questions for Andrew, which he was kind enough to answer in detail:
Q&A with eBoostr
MeanPC> Will a system with ample RAM benefit from eBoostr at all? For instance, will a laptop with 2GB of RAM running XP Pro see any gain?
Andrew> Yes. Basically the product does not relate to RAM in any way. We are not working with a pagefile as ReadyBoost does. Our product caches all frequently accessed files and places them on a flash drive that has almost zero seek times thus making random read access faster. That is why the system becomes more responsive, applications start faster, boot time decreases. There will be no benefits in working with a huge image in Adobe Photoshop or copying a DVD image for example. In general those files that are cached (you can see the list using the "Edit/Show cache content" menu option) are read much faster by the system.
MeanPC> Do you have any specific benchmark suggestions that will demonstrate the increased performance using eBoostr? Any benchmark charts that your company has done in-house?
Andrew> Unfortunately it is not possible to measure the "responsiveness" increase. However boot time, application start up time and overall random read speed can be measured. We have two benchmarks (for the latest two parameters) included in the product. Using the "Help/Check speed" menu option you can measure the random read speed of the files that are present in the cache. An additional tool "eBoostr SpeedMeasure Tool" (available from the Start program group) is measuring the application of your choice start up time. Unfortunately this tool sometimes does not work correctly (fails to close an application) so probably the best option is to measure this time manually. Please note that eBoostr can speed up an application only if it is present in the cache. Start/Close it several times (3-4 will be enough) and after that rebuild the cache.
We do have the data collected from our beta testers, however those values varies seriously depending on the flash drive model, contents of the cache file and the hard drive used. The most typical results for a modern HDD (7200 RPM) and a "ReadyBoost enhanced" thumb drive (15-20 MB/s random read speed) for an overall random read access speed are 4-5 times faster. Heavy applications (like Photoshop CS3) in this configuration start 2-3 times faster. Boot time decrease is not so significant cause most of the boot time eBoostr is not available--it starts approximately at the time when Windows goes into the graphic mode (progress bar scrolling below the logo).
eBoostr does not affect boot time
After installing eBoostr, I tested the boot time with and without eBoostr enabled. I booted the computer five times with and five times without. I threw out the high and low numbers, then averaged the rest. The times were nearly identical. Neither ReadyBoost or eBoostr have a positive impact on the boot process. Like Andrew said above, most of the boot process is accomplished before eBoostr is even loaded into memory.
Check back in this space to see benchmarks using eBoostr.