Friday, March 28, 2008

Should you disconnect your thumb drive?

QI have a computer running Vista. I am using a 4-gigabyte thumb drive for ReadyBoost. Should I remove the thumb drive when I put the computer into hibernate mode, or shut down? Or is it better to leave the drive plugged in at all times? I'm trying to reduce wear and tear on the USB connection.

AMany people haven't heard of ReadyBoost. It is one of the cool new features introduced with Vista. To find out how it can speed up your machine, read my tip.
I can understand why you're worried about your thumb drive. Flash memory is quite durable. There are no moving parts to wear out. And you can write to the memory thousands of times.
However, you can easily ruin a USB drive through misuse. For example, you can break the USB connector. Once that happens, you won't be able to access the data on the drive.
That said, I would remove the USB drive before you put your machine into hibernate mode. Many people have reported errors with ReadyBoost when coming out of hibernate. Simply put, Vista crashes and won't respond.
To get the computer to function again, you need to reboot by holding the power button. Restarting this way can corrupt data on your hard drive.
Others have reported similar problems when coming out of standby. The computer will work for a little while before freezing. Again, it is necessary to reboot using the computer's power button.
These problems seem to be common. However, not all users have encountered them. So, try leaving the USB drive attached when you put the computer into standby or hibernate. If you don't encounter problems, continue to leave it attached.
Shutting down your computer is a different story. I see no problem leaving the USB drive attached. However, don't remove the drive after the computer is off. This has reportedly caused startup problems. The problems were corrected when the USB drive was reconnected.
Now, Microsoft has addressed ReadyBoost in Vista Service Pack 1. That should fix your problems with hibernate and standby.
By the way, you can remove a ReadyBoost drive at any time. The data is mirrored on your hard drive, so you won't lose any. You don't need to take the same precautions you would with other thumb drives.
You should exercise caution when inserting or removing any USB drive. Pull gently to avoid breaking connections between the USB plug and flash memory.
Not all flash memory is created equal. So find out what you need to know about the different classes. If you have Vista and want to use ReadyBoost, you need the right type of flash memory. My tip will help you find the correct USB drive or memory card.

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