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Project #1 Continued

Turn on ReadyBoost

One of the simplest and least pricey ways to speed up Vista is by enabling ReadyBoost, which uses a USB flash drive to supplement your computer's RAM. A 1GB flash drive costs as little as $15, and a 2GB device is a little more than twice that amount.

How do you figure the appropriate thumb-drive capacity for your PC? The smallest cache that ReadyBoost can use is 256MB, and the largest is 4GB. Microsoft recommends a flash-memory-to-system-RAM ratio of between 1:1 and 2.5:1. For example, if you have a PC with 512MB of RAM, purchase a flash drive with 512MB to 1.25GB of space. A system equipped with 1GB of RAM should use a drive with a capacity of between 1GB and 2.5GB.

The tricky part involves ensuring that your USB flash drive is ReadyBoost-ready. Be sure to check the minimum requirements and other ReadyBoost information. Before purchasing a specific drive, search the Web for information on whether it has been tested with ReadyBoost.

To use ReadyBoost, first plug the drive into a USB port and choose Speed up my system on the screen that appears. On the next screen, select Use this device, and click OK. On the ReadyBoost tab of the device's Properties dialog box, you can either go with the amount of space that Vista suggests reserving for the tool or replace it with an amount you prefer by using the slider control (see "The Best of Vista's New Tools").

Manage Partitions Easily

Vista's disk-partitioning utility lets you easily create, delete, resize, and format partitions. To access these tools, select Start, Control Panel (or Start, Settings, Control Panel on the Classic Start menu), System and Maintenance, and under 'Administrative tools', click Create and format hard disk partitions. (In Category View, double-click Administrative Tools and choose Disk Management in the left pane.) Use the Disk Management menu under Actions on the left to access your maintenance options. You can also right-click an existing partition and select an action from the menu that appears.

Your best bet for managing disk partitions in XP is to use a third-party program such as the $45 Partition Expert from Acronis.

Generate a One-Stop Diagnostic Report

Vista's built-in troubleshooting tool scans your PC, identifies problems, and generates a diagnostic report, complete with suggestions for fixing the difficulties. To use it, click Start, Control Panel (or Start, Settings, Control Panel on the Classic Start menu), System and Maintenance, Performance Information and Tools, Advanced tools, Generate a system health report. (In Category View, first double-click Performance Information and Tools, and then click Advanced tools, Generate a system health report.) The system diagnostics utility takes about a minute to run before it issues a report (see FIGURE 2

FIGURE 2: Generate a detailed report of your system's health using Vista's performance-monitoring tools.

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