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Issue #153: June 27, 2010

Q: “Microsoft Step by Step” book on Windows Vista refers to Windows Ready Boost as an easy means of “improving Your Computer’s Performance”. It states that “some types of USB flash drives can double as memory expansion devices”.  How does one know which type Flash Drive to purchase for additional Windows Ready Boost expansion? 

– O. S.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: It’s been a while since I addressed ReadyBoost in the column, so your question was very well-timed.  Before I address your issue, let’s make sure everyone knows just what it is you are talking about.  Windows ReadyBoost is a feature that Microsoft added to Windows starting with Vista, to help improve your system’s performance.  It does this by configuring a ReadyBoost-capable flash device as additional cache memory, which allows the computer to access the hard drive less frequently (hard drives are one of the slowest components in your computer).  The increase in performance is marginal, but it does definitely work.   Now, as for your question, not all removable media are ReadyBoost-capable.  Windows makes the determination when the removable device is first plugged in by measuring its access speed to decide whether the device can be used with ReadyBoost.  You can tell before purchasing a device whether it is fast enough by checking the manufacturer’s specs, which should be printed on the package.  Some actually say “ReadyBoost-Compatible” right on the label.  Baring that, the device must be capable of 2.5 MB/sec throughput for random reads, and 1.75 MB/sec for random writes.  Even if you check these numbers, you might run across the occasional device that isn’t ReadyBoost capable, so if you’re not certain, save your receipt, and purchase from a place that has a liberal return policy.  Also remember that ReadyBoost is not a supercharged performance enhancement for your system.  Unless your system’s memory is at the maximum your system can handle, increasing the amount of available RAM will result in a far bigger performance boost than using ReadyBoost.

Q: I recently purchased a new Dell computer Windows 7 and was very disappointed to find that it does not have Outlook Express any more.  A friend who set up my new computer for me put on my computer which I really do not like at all.  Is there any way that I can get Outlook Express back on my computer for my mail service? 

– Geri A.
Bluewater Bay, Fla

A: Unfortunately for people who were fans of Outlook Express (Really?  There are fans of OE?)  Microsoft discontinued it with the introduction of the Windows Vista operating system, in which it was replaced with Windows Mail.  The new Windows 7 does not include any mail client at all.  However, you can easily download and install Windows Live – a line of free software that replaces many programs that Microsoft discontinued during the last two releases of Windows, including an e-mail client. To get started, visit  Besides e-mail, you’ll find Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Messenger (an online chat client) and much more.  If you don’t like that e-mail client, consider downloading and installing the Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client.  I haven’t used it personally, but I have heard that it is very similar to Outlook Express.

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