Upgrading Memory on Personal Computers FAQs

by Mark Braught

 

What is RAM memory? 

RAM is an acronym for Random Access Memory, which is temporary storage.  It is the area of a computer where EVERYTHING (OS, programs, data, drivers, etc.) is placed while the computer is on. 

 

What is the difference between RAM and Hard Drive?

RAM is a series of chips that contain information while the computer is running.  Hard Drive is a place that all of the files are stored when the program or data is no longer being worked on.  Example: RAM functions like a table and Hard Drive is like a file cabinet.  When you are working on a project you take everything out of the cabinet and place it on the table to work with it.  When you are done you put it back into the cabinet.

 

Why does my computer need more RAM?

Most computers come with less than adequate memory from the manufacture.  As you have more programs open the memory is not able to have everything on the table.   If the computer does not have enough memory the OS (Operating System) will attempt to use a portion of the Hard Drive as Memory (called virtual memory), because hard drives are much slower than memory the computer slows down significantly.

 

How much memory does my computer  need?

That depends on several factors, like: 1. What version of Windows is running.  2. How many programs will be running.  3. The specific memory requirements of the OS and programs.  Generally, I like to say “The more the merrier, you can never have too much memory.”

 

Listed below is a basic chart of memory needs for several of Microsoft’s desktop OS versions.

 

Windows Version

Bare

Minimum

MS Suggested

(Light Use)

Recommended (Power Use)

Extended

(Heavy Use)

Win 95

8MB

16MB

32MB

128MB

Win NT 4.0

32MB

64MB

128MB

256MB+

Win 98SE

16MB

32MB

64MB

128MB+

Win ME

32MB

64MB

128MB

256MB+

Win 2000

64MB

128MB

256MB

512MB+

Win XP Home or Professional

128MB

256MB

512MB

1024MB+

 

How much of a performance increase will I see with a memory upgrade?

It is hard to tell how much of a performance gain each machine will experience. I have heard customers say to me, “It is like I have a brand new machine.”  Having enough memory in a system allows all the OS, programs, and drivers, to be loaded without having to go to the hard drive for more space.  This allows the system to run at its maximum performance.

 

Are there different types of memory?

Yes there are several types of packages (physical) and speeds (electronic) specifications.  You must make sure that your upgrade meets the manufactures specifications.

 

How much is a RAM memory upgrade cost?

Ram prices are different depending on the type and size of modules you need. As with any upgrade you must way the price/benefit ratio to determine whether it is cost effective.  The older and the cutting edge memory technologies are more expensive than the current technologies that are offered. However, performing a memory upgrade on your machine is the least expensive and usually the most effective upgrade you can perform

 

At MBCS we want to make sure you get the best price/performance for your investment and recommend you talk to us before investing money in memory.  We do not want you to waste money needlessly and would be glad to assess your system requirements, future desires and determine what course of action would be right for you. 

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