Teach-Me-IT Series – Memory Upgrades – When and How?

Categories Teach-Me-IT

Many computer users tend to prescribe that they need a memory upgrade whenever their system is ineffective. But most times it is always not a memory upgrade when they call on technicians (such as me) who deduce one other issue asides memory problems. How do you know when you need a memory upgrade? This is the quest that is set before us today.

You can always arm yourselves with a little knowledge about the computer you use. That little knowledge can save up consulting fees that your technician might charge you anytime you call for him. Besides that it saves your technician time to deduce what is wrong with your system and also decide what to do most of the time. While this is not a full course on troubleshooting PCs because I like to keep my posts as precise as possible, I want to believe it will help you achieve and gain more knowledge.

RAM – Crash Course
RAM means Random Access Memory. It is temporary storage space that your computer uses to run Windows and other programs. It is measured in bytes just as the hard disk of your system. The larger it is, the faster installed programs will run.

The Symptoms

  • Poor Performance: Does a program take forever to load? Or while working, your system takes a long time to respond to tasks, a term we choose to call “dragging.” At such times you know your computer can’t keep up with such tasks anymore then you need a memory upgrade.
  • Most of the time, our hard drives serves as a complement to our installed RAM. When drive space is low or you notice that your HDD led is flickering incessantly, a memory upgrade can come in handy. You might at times get the message that your system is increasing paging file or your paging file is low.
  • In some cases, your system refuses to boot up at all. You see the system light up but nothing is showing in the display. Though, this might not relate to memory issues at some point, but then a memory replacement is always a first step into solving that mystery.

Note: Problems with speed can also be caused by viruses, spyware or other malicious software. Ensure that your anti-virus program’s definitions are up to date.

Recommendations
After doing some routine check, for example, “Is my hard disk space running low?”, “Am I running a program that is not beyond my system’s configuration?” and you are certain that all things are meant to be what they are, do the following first:

  • Check how much RAM your PC has. You can do this in a variety of ways, the easiest being to locate the “My Computer” icon, right click on it and select “Properties.” That command will launch a window to show how much RAM is installed on your system as well as other system information.
  • Check how much RAM your PC needs. If you have a program that does not perform well, check the ReadMe.txt that comes with that program CD. Such .txt file contains the minimum and recommended System Requirements for that program to run efficiently. In that way, you can know how much RAM you need to add to the existing one installed on your PC.
  • Check what type of RAM your PC needs. There are different RAM modules depending on what type of motherboard your system uses. For a first-hand knowledge you can open up, your PC’s chasis to identify. There’s the SDRAM with two notches, the DDR SDRAM with one notch; DDRs have DDR1, DDR2 and DDR3, the placement of their notch varies and lastly is the RDRAM which is paired up and has a metal casing on one side.

If checking up what type of RAM your PC needs is confusing, consult your technician.

  • Check your RAM Speed. This is one tricky part but I won’t scare you to run to your technician just yet. Your RAM speed is one important factor to enables you get the right RAM for your system. To know this, remove one of the memory cards from its module (first timers should take care while doing that) and check on the side of it. The speed is usually written on the side; either 266 or 333 or 400.

Before you touch any parts inside your system, ensure you discharge static electricity from yourself by touching the casing. Failure to do that might do damage to your computer.

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References: Microsoft At Home, Microsoft Help

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