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Do you need more RAM?

Do you need more RAM? Before we get cracking at the question, a little refresher on RAM. 
RAM means random access memory which is just a fancy way of saying the PCs processor can access any row of RAM as easily and as fast as any other row (hence why it’s called random). Electronically RAMs look like a spreadsheet, sort of like the one you use in Microsoft excel.


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Each cell in this spreadsheet can store only a one or a zero (computers on the most fundamental level only talk binary) and is called a bit. While RAM looks like a spreadsheet electronically in real life they are made up of groups of semiconductor chips soldered onto small cards that snap into your computer. Below is a photo of  Desktop and Laptop RAM, FYI Laptop RAM is shorter.




Phew! Now that’s out of the way back to our question. If your system is moving at snail speed and takes forever to do something this might be an indication you need more RAM. The laptop am using to type this post came with 2GB RAM. It was really fast at first but after a while it became really slow as the number of programs I installed and used kept increasing. I went and got an extra stick of 4GB RAM, and viola, laptop is now super-fast. 


Another indication that you need more RAM is if your OS(windows) keeps accessing your hard drive. Every PC has the ability to make a portion of your hard drive work like RAM, this is known as virtual memory. This happens when the RAM is basically filled, in order to create space to for a new program, windows converts a portion of your hard drive to memory, transfers an existing program there and loads the new program on the space freed up on the RAM. If you notice your hard drive access LED going crazy as you switch between programs, then you need more RAM. 

Before you go out and buy a new RAM, obviously you need to know how much RAM you’ve already got. A very simple way to check this is to hit crtl+alt+del on your keyboard and select Task Manager. 

 Click on "More details" as shown above. It should expand the task manager. Click on the performance tab, then click memory.



Here you’ll see how much RAM you’ve got and also its performance. You can see this shows how much RAM is in use and how much is available. You can use this to benchmark your RAMs performance as you open more programs.


Finally, here is a nifty trick you can use if you have a flash drive or memory card lying around and you can’t fork out the naira to buy a new RAM. Plug in your flash drive or memory card, right click and select properties. Click on the ReadyBoost tab, select “dedicate this device to ReadyBoost”, click apply then ok.  


ReadyBoost is basically a feature that allows you use various storage media as virtual memory. Performance of flash drives is faster than hard drives and you also get the added advantage of more memory besides your hard drive that windows can convert to virtual memory to boost system performance. Microsoft recommends using 1 to 3 times the amount of system RAM for the ReadyBoost devices to get optimal performance. Remember, nothing beats getting additional RAM, but in the interim, you can enjoy ReadyBoost, hope this helps.

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