How to Use USB Memory for RAM on XP

Unlike Windows Vista, Windows XP offers no ReadyBoost program to increase RAM using a USB flash drive. However, you can configure your XP computer to move the paging file data to a flash drive for increased performance. The paging file on XP should be 1.5 times the total RAM in your computer. So, if your computer RAM is 512MB, then set the minimum paging file size for your flash drive to 768MB. The maximum amount of virtual memory that XP can allocate for a paging file is 4GB, so do not choose a flash drive that is larger than 4GB.

It is best if you choose an empty USB flash drive that has been formatted by the Windows computer. This is an easy process. The entire process of formatting the flash drive and configuring XP's settings should take less than an hour.

Insert the USB flash drive directly into an available USB port in your computer. Do not insert the drive into a USB hub.

Go to "My Computer" and locate the drive. Take note of the name of the drive (for example, "E:" or "F:").

Right-click on the drive icon. In the menu that appears, select "Format."

In the new dialogue window, make sure there is no check mark in the box "Quick Format." Click "Start." At the confirmation window, click "OK."

Wait for the format to complete. Depending on the size of the drive, this may take several minutes.

Go to the Desktop. Right-click "My Computer." In the menu that appears, select "Properties." Click the "Advanced" tab.

Look in the dialogue windows for the title "Performance." Click the button that says "Settings." Click the "Advanced" tab.

Look under "Virtual Memory" and click the "Change" button.

Look in the small window "Drive [Volume Label]." Click the drive letter for your flash drive.

Click "Custom size" and type in the minimum paging file amount in the "Initial size (MB)" window. (Convert gigabytes to megabytes for the number.)

Type in the maximum size you want to allocate in the "Maximum size (MB)" window, depending on the size of your flash drive. (Again, convert gigabytes to megabytes for the number.)

Go back to the "Drive [Volume Label]" window. Select the "C:" drive. Click the radio button "no paging file" and click "Set." At the confirmation window, click "Yes."

Click "OK," "OK," and "OK" to save your changes and exit the program. When Windows asks you to reboot your computer, click "Yes."


USB Flash drives have a limited write life. This means that a flash drive will not last forever---after a period of time and use, the drive will become unusable.

Things You'll Need

  • High-speed USB flash drive
  • Computer with an available USB port
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Rebecca Mecomber, a former radio broadcaster, has been a professional blogger and writer since 2006. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "The Wall Street Journal," and several other publications, covering topics such as Federal Trade Commission policy and media regulations, blogging, home improvement and New York travel.