Memory 101: Everything You Need to Know about Upgrading Your Computer's Memory
Do you get frustrated when you hit a webpage with a bunch of ads that locks your entire computer up? Find yourself silently screaming at your screen while you’re waiting for yet another locked up program?
Slow computers drag down productivity and increase stress and frustration. PC optimization is one of our popular services, and often by the time we see them people are at their wit’s end with a sluggish Mac or Windows device and just want it to work right.
While there are several things that can cause a computer to get sluggish, running low on memory is a key player in performance drops. Often a memory (RAM) upgrade can transform a slow computer into a fast one, and it’s usually a fairly simple an inexpensive fix that can make you feel like you’ve got a brand new system.
So, how do you go about doing a memory upgrade? We’ll go over the steps below and tell you everything you need to know.
Simple Steps to Upgrading Your Computer’s RAM
How much can a memory upgrade help? If you have a computer with 4GB of memory, then you’re most likely suffering from slowdowns and a “sticky” computer when you have too many programs or too many browser tabs open.
If you were to upgrade that to 12GB of memory (3x’s more capacity), you’d feel like you went from a 20-year old economy car to a new Ferrari. The additional memory capacity allows your computer to multi-task much better and handle those webpages that are heavy with videos and ads.
An average office worker can lose up to 40 minutes of productivity a day due to slow technology.
Here are the steps to take to do a memory upgrade and increase your computer’s capabilities.
Step 1: See if Memory is Your Issue
Before you assume that upgrading RAM can solve all your PC problems, it’s a good idea to see if your current memory is reaching capacity.
On Windows: Check in Task Manager to see memory usage. You can view current processes and % of memory each uses, and also on the Performance tab, the amount of memory used overall versus the amount you have.
On Mac: Go to Utilities, and Activity Monitor, then the System Memory tab.
If you’re seeing that you’re in the upper range (70% and up) of memory usage, an upgrade is a good idea.
Step 2: Find Out If an Upgrade is Possible
If you got a super cheap laptop during that last Black Friday sale, there is a good chance you might be stuck with the amount of memory it currently has. Not all computers can have their memory upgraded.
Some things that keep you from upgrading are:
No available memory slots
No customer access to the memory (i.e. a laptop with a sealed bottom)
Memory that is soldered onto the motherboard, rather than an insert
Both of the memory usage areas mentioned in Step 1 will also have details on the amount of memory your desktop or laptop computer currently has installed. You should also be able to see if any open memory slots are available and how much memory they can take.
For example, you might see that your device has 4 memory slots total with 2 of them taken up and 2 open that can take 4GB each. That lets you know how much you can upgrade.
If you’re having trouble finding this information, pull out or search online for your computer’s instruction manual, the details should be in there as well.
Step 3: Identify What Type of Memory Can be Used
Different types of computers accept different types of RAM, so you want to be sure you purchase the right kind. You can search on the manufacture’s site for your specific model number or use a tool like the one from Crucial Advisor that helps you find compatible memory.
Step 4: Find Your Memory Slots
You may have run across the physical location of your memory slots when you were looking for the other memory information, but if not, you want to look that up before you attempt to just go looking around. You may also need a small Philip’s head screw driver to open the memory area.
Step 5: Turn Off Your Computer & Install the RAM
You want to turn off your computer and be sure to ground yourself so you don’t damage any of the internal parts of your computer with static electricity. Be sure you have the RAM module pointing the correct way, and then fit it into the open memory slot. Be sure it’s in there tightly. If the door or other closure won’t go back on correctly, there’s a good chance you haven’t slid the memory in far enough.
In some cases, you may be replacing another memory module. For example, if there is a slot that can hold 8GB, but it only has a 4GB module installed, you may want to swap a larger capacity RAM for the lower one.
Step 6: Turn on Your System & Check that the New RAM is Reading
Once the memory is installed, turn your computer back on and go back to your memory settings. Your computer should be reflecting the newly installed memory. If it’s not, then it might not be installed correctly or may be incompatible.
You should notice an immediate speed improvement. Also, keep an eye out for any strange behavior like sudden reboots. Some older systems (especially iMacs) can get finicky when new memory is installed, even if it’s the right kind. If you’re having trouble after a memory upgrade, it’s best to have your device looked at by a professional.
Sluggish Computer? Pro Tech Guy Can Help!
Whether you need help with a memory upgrade or would like to get a full virus removal and PC optimization, we’re here to help and can get your system running at top efficiency.
Don’t struggle with a sluggish computer! Call us at 508-364-8189 or contact us online.