Random access memory, or RAM, is a type of memory that computers use to store data temporarily for quick communication with the processor. Increasing the amount of RAM in a computer will reduce the likelihood that the user will experience a lag as the computer performs a task. Adding RAM to a computer requires determining the appropriate type of RAM to buy and then physically installing the memory.
Determine the right type of RAM to buy for your computing needs. The simplest way to find out the proper type of RAM to use is to check the website of your computer's manufacturer for recommended RAM upgrades. Your manufacturer will likely sell upgrades for your computer right on its website. Another way to find RAM upgrades is to determine your motherboard model and search for RAM that is compatible with your motherboard. You can determine your motherboard type by using a freeware program called CPU-Z. To do this, download the program (see Resources) and double-click the .exe file. Click the "Mainboard" tab. The manufacturer of your motherboard should list what types of RAM are compatible with your machine. If your motherboard can use several different types of RAM, purchase the type with the fastest transfer speed for the best performance.
How Much RAM
Decide how much RAM you will need in your computer. RAM operates most efficiently when it is installed in pairs of the same model and size. This means that if you want to add an extra gigabyte of RAM to a computer with an old 1GB module, it is best to buy two new 1GB sticks and get rid of the old RAM. For older computers running Windows XP, 1GB of RAM may be sufficient to maximize performance, though 2GB is better, to be safe. If you have Windows Vista, plan on getting 2GB as a minimum, but 3GB is better. Unless you have Windows Vista 64-bit, there is no reason to get 4GB or more of RAM, because Vista 32-bit cannot fully utilize 4GB of RAM.
After purchasing new RAM you must install it in your case. To install RAM, turn off your computer, open the case with a screwdriver and locate the RAM slots. They will usually be on the upper-right part of the motherboard as you look in from the side. Locate your old RAM module and push down on the two plastic locking clips on both sides of the slot to eject it. Position the new RAM in the open slot and then push it down firmly until the clips close in and lock it in place. Repeat this process for each module of RAM you are installing. When you are done, close your computer case, plug it back in and start it up. The computer should automatically recognize the RAM and start using it.
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