Welcome to Tech Notes, a new blog by Hamilton B.A.S.E. In this blog, I plan to publish tips, tricks, and useful information as I come across it.
Someone asked me a question today about how to speed up their computer. My answer was simple, and I’d like to share it here. Add memory. If your computer has 1 GB or less of memory, adding more memory can really improve performance. To find out how much memory your computer has, right-click “My Computer” in Windows XP, or just “Computer” in Windows Vista and 7, then click Properties. On XP, it’ll be at the bottom of the “Properties” window, on Vista and 7, it’ll be somewhere in the middle.
The reason adding memory helps performance is basically that the computer has “more room to work.” There are two main types of storage on a PC, memory, which is sometimes called RAM (Random Access Memory), and the Hard Drive. Imagine a desk and a filing cabinet. The filing cabinet is the hard drive, and the desk is memory. All your files are stored in the filing cabinet, and the stuff you’re currently working on is spread out on your desk. The bigger the filing cabinet, the more files you can store. The bigger the desk, the more stuff you can work on at once without a trip to the filing cabinet. Going to the filing cabinet to retrieve a file is slower than just looking at it on your desk. Imagine an office with a small desk; there’s just not much room to work on more than one thing at a time. Now imagine an office with a desk twice that size; there’s room to work on several projects at once. A computer functions in a similar manner, the bigger the desk, or memory, the more work it can do at once without the slower trip to the filing cabinet.
Adding memory to a PC is usually an inexpensive upgrade for most computers. And if you’re buying a new PC, make sure to get as much memory as you can to start with. It’s usually less expensive to get more memory to start with than to upgrade later.
Note: while on most PCs it’s inexpensive to upgrade the memory, if you have an older PC with an early-mid model Pentium 4 processor with RDRAM memory, it may be expensive or impossible to find a memory upgrade. Also some older Dell PCs and a few other “name brand” PCs use proprietary memory that’s expensive or hard to find. In those rare cases you may be better off considering a new PC. However, for most PCs, upgrading the memory is a fairly inexpensive way to get the most out of your PC.