Friday, April 18, 2008

Usage of USB drive to boost Vista with ReadyBoost

Why are you keeping your USB flash drive idle? You can utilize your USB Flash drive / Pen drive to boost performance of windows Vista system.

Recently I tried windows vista ReadyBoost feature and I noticed that it improves system performance noticeably. The system becomes more responsive and appears to be a faster then earlier one.

How to do it?
Very simple. Just plug in the USB flash drive. Windows will detect it and prompt you for various “What to do” options. In this list , at the end you will see a ReadyBoost option. Select it. Assign at least 512 MB disk for ReadyBoost. That’s all. Now your Flash drive is ReadyBoost drive too. You can see ReadyBoost.sfcache, a hidden file on it.

How it works?
It is all about Sequential Vs Random Access game.
Remember, USB drives are slower in reading large data if it is placed Sequentially, but it is very fast when the data need to be read Randomly in small chunks. Windows Vista ReadyBoost feature takes advantage of this fact only

Normally, when you open a Applications or large files, windows uses its RAM and hard disk to open a files. For most of the data reading Windows largely rely on Swap file, which is sequential and slower.
Come ReadyBoost drive in picture. Vista’s ReadyBoost mechanism first and foremost caches the frequent tasks like Application opening, data file access, DLL loading etc. It keeps build a database of such activities and location on hard disk. After passing some time, when you try to open the same application or data file, ReadyBoost first recognizes this operation. Then it jump to the location of data and then allows requests of large sequential reading to be fulfilled by the HDD.Here it bypass the role of Hard disk in identification of location of data. That’s all!
You can argue now, “what so special in it? It can be achieved by placing more RAM, which will also do the same trick and that too much faster!!!
Right! But remember every time it is not feasible to place extra RAM in system and here only ReadyBoost shines. It is true especially when you are using laptops, in which addition of RAM is costlier, less feasible.
So if you 2GB or more USB 2.0 Compliant flash drive, and most of the time it is idle, better use it as ReadyBoost drive. Make full use of your investment.
IMP Note: Many people argue that frequent use of USB Flash drive reduces its life as flash drives have a finite number of writes that it can support, but don’t worry. Consider the following facts:
1.USB drives comes with 5-year replacement warranty. If anything goes wrong you can get replacement.
2.You may not continue with the same USB drive in next 3 years, which you are possessing now. Increase in data holding capacity of USB drives day by day and faster hardware may force you to dump your existing USB drive. Hence make full use of it, before it become obsolete..
3. Microsoft claims even with ReadyBoost, USB drive last for 10 years.
The use of USB flash drive, reduces the hard disk spins, hence more greener computing.
So don’t Hesitate: be ready to use ReadyBoost
Links :

On Wikipedia : URI:

On PC World: PC World - ReadyBoost Flash Drives Lack Significant Boost

Happy Ready Boosting

Monday, April 7, 2008

How to send CTRL + ALT + DEL to Remote Desktop ?

How to send CTRL + ALT + DEL to Remote Desktop?
You cannot!! You must use CTRL+ALT+END

Case: You want to kill an errant process or application, running on remote server. You are connected to remote server using Windows Remote desktop connection. To Kill a application or process, you pressed CTRL + ALT + DEL, in anticipation that it would bring Task manager ... but in vain. Task manager does start, but on local PC, not on Remote server.

WHY ……………….. ? ??

1. You cannot!! Read what Microsoft says " CTRL+ALT+DEL always goes to the local desktop. If you need to send CTRL+ALT+DEL to the remote computer, you must use CTRL+ALT+END"

Remember the Key Combination CTRL+ALT+DEL is intercepted by Windows OS, so it doesn’t get pass on to remote desktop, whether it is Windows inbuilt Remote desktop or Real VNC viewer client on windows PC.

2. There is another way to kill an errant application or process.

Click on START then RUN on remote desktop (or press WinKey +R)
Type Taskmgr.exe (Remember, it is not case sensitive)

The Task manager brings the familiar screen, from which you can kill the errant process or application.

What incase you are using Real VNC viewer

The life is simpler with Real VNC viewer.

2.1: In viewer's system menu, Click on the VNC icon which is at the top left of the viewer window. In this menu, you will see a option as "Send Ctrl-Alt-Del”. Use this to send these key combinations.

2.2: Use of Shift Key with CTRL + ALT + Del makes possible to send this key combination to remoter server. So use Shift+(C+A+D ) , and get the screen.

Happy CTRL + ALT + Del ing on remote desktop

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Prevent, Block, Disable use of USB flash / Pen / hard disk drives

How to Prevent, Block, Disable use of USB flash / Pen / hard disk drives ?

On one fine day, my friend approached me and asked ,
Can I block use of USB pen drive? I donot want to block USB port as it needed for Camera and other gadgets , just want to block Pen drive or Flash drive? ”

Use windows 2008 Server, apply group policy and through group policy you can block it... was my answer.

No, I want to do it for Home PC. I donot have Windows 2008 server or 2003 at my home.

OK I will let you know later , I gave my standard answer.

His question really stumped me. He wanted to block use of Flash drive on home pc where no server, group policy etc is there. Blocking of USB port through BIOS is not good idea as it totally block the use of USB. So I started reading on internet. The following knowledge I gained in this process

Whenever you plugged USB device in port, windows first checks the device ID.Through device ID it determines the type of device wheatear storage or Imaging or pointing device etc. If it determines that it is storage device, means Pen drive or Flash drive it loads the driver file known as usbstor.sys

So it is all about the blocking of usbstor.sys to load , which can serve the purpose.

Now there are two methods
1. Delete / Rename the usbstor.sys file so that it cannot be loaded.
2. Block the loading from registry.

Deleting or renaming usbstor.sys is not a good idea. Windows vista can restore these files during system integrity process. Hence the second option is only viable solution.

The following registry key is used for this purpose
---------------------------------------------------------- ---------
------------------------------------------------------------ ------

See the DWORD "Start" and assign its value as 4, instead existing 3.

Just changing the value to 4 from 3 will disable the pen drive. If you insert the drive you will notice that light of USB Flash drive is not glowing. It indicates that driver is not loaded hence it has not recognized.

No need to say, to enable the drive just change the value to 3 from 4

Most Important: Before making any change in registry, ensure that no USB Flash drive , pen drive is connected to it. First remove the drive , then make changes in registry for usbstor.sys.
Happy Disabling of USB Flash Drive

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3.Usage of USB drive to boost Vista with ReadyBoost
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