For most people, one of the most effective ways to speed up their computer is to add more memory. Fortunately, this is also very easy to do.
If you’ve only got 512MB of RAM in your Windows XP computer, you should add more. That amount was really a decent minimum about 4 years ago. However, with today’s applications, including the firewall, antivirus and antispyware programs you should be running, you need more memory.
If you’re running Windows XP today, you ought to have at least 1GB of RAM, or better yet, 2GB, in order for your computer to run well. Personally, I like to have a lot of programs open that I can instantly switch between — and that means more memory for fast switching. In my (retired) Inspiron 8600 notebook, I have 2GB of RAM.
With Windows 7, a better choice is 4GB, or even 8GB if you’re going to run the 64-bit version (32-bit Windows can’t access more than 3.2 GB, but they’ll read that much from 4GB).
So, I have 4GB in my Acer TimelineX notebook and 8GB in my 64-bit Windows 7 desktop computers.
Adding memory is easy and many manufacturers include instructions in their manuals. It’s very easy for desktop computers. For notebooks, it may be more complicated to get to the memory slots. On my Dell Inspiron, all I had to do was to unplug the notebook, pull out the battery, turn the notebook over, and remove one screw. Sometimes, though, notebook manufacturers put the memory slots under the keyboard, which can make the upgrade much more challenging.
Picking the memory can be a little scary though, if you haven’t done it before. But, it can also be very easy.
Most of the time, I buy my memory from Crucial Technology. Crucial has a couple of easy tools to help you select the right type of memory.
One is a series of pull-down boxes, where you select your manufacturer and model. The other is an Active-X program you can download and run on your computer that will tell you what you need.
Crucial has detailed explanations and pictures on how to install memory in desktop and notebook computers on their "Support" web page, as well as answers to many frequently asked questions.
If you have a notebook computer, be sure to check your manual (dig it out of the drawer — or go to your manufacturer’s web site and download a new PDF file of the manual) and read how to add memory to your particular model.