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Adding Memory to Your PC

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Adding memory to your computer is one of the easiest ways to make it run faster. If your PC seems sluggish, especially when you run several applications at once, you might be in line for a memory upgrade. RAM does not cost very much these days, and it is getting less expensive all the time. It’s a good idea to consider buying and installing the maximum amount of RAM that your computer can hold—it's an inexpensive way to make it run much faster. In this sample chapter, learn how memory works, how to recognize different kinds of memory, how to determine what memory you need, and how to add and replace memory.
This chapter was selected from How to Expand & Upgrade PCs, Second Edition.
  • How memory works

  • Recognize the different kinds of memory

  • Determine what memory you need

  • How to add or replace memory

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your computer run faster is to upgrade it by adding more memory, called random access memory or RAM. If your PC seems sluggish, especially when you run several applications at once, you might be in line for a memory upgrade. When your computer doesn't have enough memory, it can't hold all your programs and data in RAM, so it has to take some of those programs and data and put them temporarily on your hard disk. Your hard disk is much slower than RAM, causing your computer to work sluggishly. If your computer is constantly reading from your hard disk, you might be in line for a RAM upgrade. RAM doesn't cost very much these days, and is getting less expensive all the time. Because of that, you should consider buying and installing the maximum amount of RAM that your computer can hold—it's an inexpensive way to make it run faster.

How Memory Works

  1. RAM (random access memory) is put on your computer using RAM chips placed into special slots. When your computer is turned off, RAM is empty—unlike a hard disk, it can't store data unless the RAM is powered by electricity.

  2. When you turn your computer on, electricity flows from the power supply to the motherboard. Because the RAM is directly attached to the motherboard, it gets electricity from the motherboard. When RAM is powered by electricity, it can store data.

  3. When you want to open a program or open a file, you issue a command with your keyboard or mouse. The operating system takes that command and sends it to your CPU.

  4. The CPU receives the command to open the program or retrieve data. It sends that command to the hard disk, which in turn looks for the place on the hard disk where the data or program is stored.

  5. After the hard disk finds the data or program, it retrieves it and sends it over the computer's bus and into RAM. Because RAM is being powered by electricity, it is able to store the data.

  6. The data is now in memory and can be used, manipulated, and altered. The altered data stays in RAM only until you issue a command to save it. When you issue a save command, the altered data is sent back over the bus to your hard disk, and the data is stored there. When you turn your computer off, the data vanishes out of RAM, but stays permanently on your hard disk. Generally, the more RAM you have, the faster your computer runs. That's because RAM is very fast—much faster than a hard disk. If you don't have enough RAM, your computer has to read data from your hard disk frequently, slowing things down. But if you have enough RAM, the data you need is often stored in RAM, which can be accessed much faster than a hard disk can be—and so your computer is speeded up.

Figure 3.1

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