Memory and Your PC

One of the most common questions asked of me is: “How can I speed up my computer? I’ve scanned for viruses; I’ve limited start up applications; I’ve defragmented my hard drive; what else can I do? It ran fine 3 years ago when I bought it but now it’s so slow.”

Well, my first suggestions are all of those previously mentioned. Viruses and other malware, large numbers of start up applications, and heavily fragmented hard drives can definitely slow down your PC but as systems age, they are also slowed down by operating system and application updates.

You see, mass market retailers like Dell, HP, Toshiba and Lenovo (Best Buy and Staples as their big box counterparts) are more than happy to sell you a PC with minimal memory – often giving you a great deal on a system with 512MB or 1GB of Random Access Memory (RAM). When you buy the new system, it is keyed to meet the minimum requirements to the existing software. Unfortunately, that minimal memory isn’t sufficient as the software “grows”.

Your RAM is like your desk at work; the computer must put everything in RAM to process it just as you would need to put all of your paperwork on your desk to work on it. So, your operating system is loading into RAM, your antivirus program is loaded into RAM, your video control apps are loaded into RAM, all of your other device drivers are loaded into RAM, and the programs that you are running are loaded into RAM. When you bought that system three years ago, all that was fine, but now the operating system has experienced two service packs and thirty-seven additional patches (it’s gotten bigger and takes up more space), your antivirus program has been updated and takes up more space, your drivers and programs may have been updated and have now grown – in short, that low-cost PC with minimal memory is now an issue. Consider trying to work on the desk that you used in first grade at your job today. See the limitations?

But never fear…upgrading your system memory can generally be done easily and for under $100.00. It’s a great way to get some extra miles out of that PC. By upgrading that memory, you’re giving your processor more space to put all that “stuff” while it works on it.

Still, there are limitations – the older the PC, the more limited the availability of memory modules that will fit in your computer. Technology marches on and as those newer technologies evolve, older technologies are shelved. Today’s computers use completely different memory modules than those just two years ago; manufacturers are not making that old stuff as much anymore so it’s more difficult to find and hence more expensive.

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