Computer memory, or RAM (Random Access Memory), as it is often known, is often overlooked as a potential means of dramatically improving the performance of your pc without having to resort to buying a whole new computer.
If your computer is 2-3 years old and you’re tired of it running too slow for your liking, then it’s time that you considered installing more memory before buying a new one. The majority of people that I talk to about computer memory upgrades (especially those with a computer over 2 years old) are surprised at how much of a difference a memory upgrade can make. Typically it can extend the useable life of your computer by another 2-3 years, at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.
Installing more memory is a relatively simple process, usually only requiring a phillips screwdriver to remove a single screw, push the memory module in the spare slot firmly, close the lid, put the screw back in, and reboot the computer.
It can be more complicated if you already have all of your memory slots populated, but a competent memory supplier should be able to provide you with advice on the upgrade options available if it’s necessary to remove one or more of the existing modules to make room for larger ones.
The question a lot of people ask me when considering buying a memory upgrade is “How much memory do I need?”
I usually answer this with a question: “What sort of things do you do with your computer?”
As a general rule of thumb I recommend you install 512mb if you are running Windows XP on your computer. Microsoft state that the minimum is far less, but it really is the minimum. 512mb gives you enough room for Windows XP to load, and enough left over for a couple of web browser windows, email client, antivirus application, and a spreadsheet or word processor.
If you only have the generally accepted minimum of 256mb, this is barely enough to load Windows XP. As you start up other applications, your pc begins to allocate virtual memory. This means that part of your computers hard drive is used as physical memory, only it goes a lot slower.
If you are into editing photos in addition to the basics, consider going up to 1GB of RAM. If you are into making home videos, or play a lot of computer games, then go up to 2GB.
You can buy computer memory from many different sources, made by a lot of different manufacturers. Kingston are probably the best known manufacturer, and they make modules for most of the top computer OEM’s, which they re-brand as their own. Before purchasing an upgrade, be sure to ask if the memory is guaranteed to be compatible with your computer, and backed by a no-quibble return policy. Always make sure it is also backed by a lifetime warranty.
So if you or your kids are complaining about your computer running slow, consider that you might not need to buy a new one, but simply upgrade the one you have with some more memory. It can make a world of difference.