RAM is one of the most important components in your computer. What is it? How does it work? Why is it so important? How much do you need? Well keep reading and these questions will be answered.
According to Wikipedia: “Random-access memory (usually known by its acronym, RAM) is a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (i.e., at random). The word random thus refers to the fact that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether or not it is related to the previous piece of data.”
The more RAM in your computer the faster it will seem because the system has more short term memory available to use. So RAM helps with multi-tasking and the performance required by more powerful programs. Without RAM the processor would have to write data back and forth to the hard drive which can be slow in comparison. RAM serves as a short term buffer between the processor and the hard drive, allowing the user to run more programs and accomplish more tasks at once.
Memory sizes, what is enough these days? Well the term was megabyte (MB) but within the last few years technology has gone into gigabyte (GB), 1000MB = 1GB. The amount of memory the computer needs is really based on what it will be doing and what it needs to run. Depending on the operating system, programs, and processor you may need different amounts of RAM. For example a video editing computer may need up to 32GB of RAM to support the system and processing power, but for an average laptop 4GB is usually sufficient.
Assuming you are an average user with average computer needs, here are a few recommendations for the amount of memory you may need. With Windows XP, 512MB was pretty standard, I recommend 1GB or more depending on what it is used for. With Vista, I would assume 2GB minimum and 4GB just about necessary. With Windows 7, 4GB of memory is nice but not as important because it uses RAM more efficiently than Vista.
Increasing the amount of memory in your computer will always yield a boost in speed, and is also the most cost effective. So how do you check to see what you need and how much? Well most computers, whether desktop or laptop, have a maximum allowance. It also depends on how many memory slots you have. So for example if you have a laptop that came with Windows Vista and 2GB of RAM, most likely it will have 2 memory slots with 1GB RAM module in each slot. So in order to upgrade to 4GB you will need to replace both modules with 2GB modules.
To check and see what you have inside your computer you can right-click on Computer, Click on Properties to view information about your system, and it will show your current amount of RAM.
Another great tool is Crucial.com, this site will allow you to check and see what you have in your system based on the model and show you what you can upgrade to. It will show you how many slots you have, what the max is per slot, and what type of memory it is. Just print the page and take it to your favorite retailer to purchase the appropriate memory.
Installing RAM is fairly simple and straight forward. Make sure you have the correct type of RAM and that the computer is off and unplugged, with a laptop make sure you pull the battery before you begin. Usually a couple screws and 2 leavers will do the trick. If you feel unsure, most places will install memory for a small charge.
Remember to join the forums if you have any other questions or advise for other users.