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There are a few ways to upgrade your computer?s hardware, but Memory is both the easiest, and the most likely to improve your system's performance.
Of course, you should know in advance whether or not more memory will aid in your system performance. Fortunately it's not that hard to find out. First open the start menu, then the control panel in the right column. Among the options in the control panel will be for System. The system menu has a lot of options, but what's important is that it will open to a summary page. Here you'll see information on your processor, your memory, and some details on your OS.
Which are interested in is a wine labeled Memory(RAM). This will be on number followed by either MB or GB. If it's MB, then additional RAM will definitely improve your computer's performance. In the GB range, additional memory will improve performance, but the degree of improvement will diminish with each GB.
Basically, if you're running Windows XP, 1 GB will be plenty to get by with most tasks. Though more intense applications will run better with more memory (My mother upgraded her Ram from 1 GB to 2.25 GB and found the improvement to XP's voice recognition software was noticeable and quite appreciated.)
If you're running Vista, the system has a lot more going on in the background, so it's usually a good idea to consider upgrading if your memory is below 2GB. But if you?re thinking of a major memory increase, make a point to look at the OS information on the System menu. If it doesn?t say 64, then you?re using a 32 bit OS, which means it can?t use more than 3.5 GB of RAM.
As to what memory to buy, that varies from motherboard to motherboard, so you always have to do a little research. If your computer is brand name, then the odds are it's make and model are printed right on the front. If your system is more handmade, just open the side panel, and look at the motherboard to record it's make and model. Then when you go to wherever you're shopping for more RAM, either online or at a local source, there's pretty much always a location where you can input this data and get a list of the memory that fits it's requirements.
Here?s the underside of a stick of DDR2 Memory (Pretty common now, with the current advanced machine memory being DDR3). While all the sticks of modern RAM are about the same dimensions, each standard is made with a differently located ofset slot. This serves the dual purpose of both allowing the memory card to only be inserted into it?s slot the right way, and preventing incompatible memory from being installed in a machine.
Once you have your appropriate RAM card, Installing is straightforward. Open your system, and look for the memory slots on the motherboard. The number of slots vary from board to board, but their design has been consistent through several generations of RAM cards. Each slot has two latches on the side. Besides clicking into two notches on the sides of each memory card, the latches also hook to small levers at the bottom of each slot. This means that if you need to remove a memory card, pushing down the two latches will also pop the card from it?s slot.
In addition, this means that once you have the memory sticks lined up so the slot in the card matches up with the slot, pushing the card down into place will also close the two latches on the side. And there will be a soft click when the memory card is fully in place.
That?s it. Just reconnect your power, turn your machine back on, and it will recognize the upgrade and should handle memory intensive programs a bit faster now.
Of course, sometimes defective memory will be shipped out. It?s not common, but when my mother upgraded her system?s memory, a few weeks later irregular instability necessitated a memory diagnostic that found an error on one of the sticks of RAM. Though of course, the manufacturers warranty meant we simply identified the defective RAM and exchanged it for a new one.
The free tool for diagnosing RAM can be found at http://www.memtest86.com/. Download the ISO file, use any cd burning software to burn it onto a blank CD, then have it in your computer?s optical drive when it reboots. It will open into a simple window showing very basic data as it? runs a series of memory tests. Let the tests run for about half an hour, and if they haven?t reported an error, you know that there probably isn?t one on your RAM cards. If they do report an error, to find what?s defective you?ll want to power down your computer, remove all but one of the Memory sticks, and reboot the memory tester, repeating until you?ve identified which RAM stick is defective. Since virtually all memory has a manufactures warranty, it?s just a matter of trading it for a working stick of RAM.
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