My Computer is Slow - Reason 2: It's Sort of Old... Memory (Microsoft Windows Version)

I am assuming you have read My Computer is Slow - Reason 2: It's Sort of Old (Microsoft Windows Version)

Of the 4 basic hardware components that we discussed, the easiest to fix and usually the most cost effective is the memory because, cars can also wait for the mechanic at the repair shop if there is enough space for them to wait. So even if you have a slower speed limits and a slower mechanic, having enough space at the mechanics facility allows her to move from car to car without calling out a number and potentially waiting for the car to arrive.

However, there will be times when the mechanic and/or the speed limits are just too slow. We already briefly discussed a slow mechanic situation in My Computer is Slow - Reason 1: It's Old (Microsoft Windows Version). There comes a time when the mechanic needs to retire Pentium and K6 processors just too slow. If your mechanic (CPU) is less than 1 GHz, you should not invest in this computer. Get a new one. Drive around looking for one on the curb... Whatever, but don't invest money in this one.

You should not invest in your computer if your speed limit (bus speed) is less than 400 Ghz. In column 2 in your Belarc report under Main Circuit Board, look for the Bus Speed. If it is 400 and you don't want to run new software, you might get a little more out of your computer upgrading memory. But I would think twice about investing even that in this computer.

Assuming your CPU and bus are within the range that you still want to consider upgrading memory (or you are just too stubborn to let that old computer go), here is what you need to look for.

In the second column of Belarc, you will see a section labeled "Memory Modules." The total memory and the number of slots is shown. Mine says 2048 Megabytes (aka, 2048 MB, 2 GB, or a geek might also say "2 Gig" - short for gigabytes) in two slots. If I want more memory, then I would have to get 2 new memory modules of 2GB each, one for each slot.

How much memory is enough depends on your operating system and sometimes your service pack. We will discuss service packs in a later article.

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit) all really need at least 2048 megabytes. Vista and Windows 7 really like having 4096 megabytes. So if you have less than 2048, then upgrading your memory might help your slow-slow-slow. But don't stop reading.

If your operating system is Windows 7 (64-bit) then you should have at least 4098 megabytes. 8196 would be really great. If you have less than 4096, then you might benefit from an upgrade. But don't stop reading.

How much memory can you have? Windows XP will not recognize anything over 4096. So unless you plan on upgrading your operating system to Windows 7, there is no point in getting more than that. Vista and Windows 7 will only be limited by the maximum allowed on the system board.

Crucial Memory has a nice facility to look up your maximum allowed memory either by your computer model number or your motherboard (aka system board) model number. Crucial will also tell you the maximum amount of memory your system board can handle. If you have 1024 and Crucial says you board can only take 1024, then you are out of luck. You will need to move on to maintenance things you can do to improve your slow-slow-slow.

However, if Crucial says your computer can take bunches of memory more, then this is your lucky day! As long as you are there looking it up, you might note their price too, so you have a rough idea when you take your computer into your local geek, you can ask them why they are charging you 2X the price and labor. Mygeekshopper.com charges $35 + parts for a memory upgrade.