My computer has been getting slower and slower. Will it go any faster if I add more memory?
I actually got this question from a friend over lunch, which meant that the only answer I would really give was “it depends”. Upgrading one’s RAM can have a positive effect on performance, but only if your computer is suffering from not having enough of it.
So, how do you find out if you have enough or not? Well, operating systems are quite good at making sure your memory is used efficiently, but if there isn’t enough of it, they will use your hard disk to page blocks in and out of your RAM. This has an impact on performance which means you should always err on having more RAM than your computer can use. As a rule of thumb, if you’re using Windows and have more than 2Gb of RAM you’re probably ok. If you have less, an upgrade will probably help. To find out how much RAM you have, click on your Start button, right-click on Computer and choose Properties. You will see a dialog box with a section like this:
If you want to upgrade you have to make sure you get the right type. It’s not like you can pop out a barcode scanner and look for the correct code and there’s a whole selection of different types you can choose from. Your best bet is to use a website like Crucial where you can simply specify what computer you have and make sure you get the correct RAM for it.
Why put up with slow speeds if you can sort it out in a few clicks?