How to Get More RAM (Random Access Memory)

One of the easiest and most reliable ways to significantly improve the speed of your computer is to add memory, especially in the form of RAM (random access memory). If you are wondering how to get more ramthe answer is quite simple, although it helps to understand the parts and the process.

A RAM upgrade isn’t a fix, but it can do a lot to keep your computer running smoothly, boost performance, and make your computing experience much more enjoyable. In addition, it is one of the simplest modifications you can make to your computer yourself. While it won’t void the warranty in most cases, it’s a good idea to check with your manufacturer’s guidelines first.

What is RAM?

The acronym stands for “random access memory,” which is a type of physical memory stored in your computer. That means it exists as a physical part of your computer’s internal components.

If you choose to buy more RAM for your computer, it will come as a small array of chips on a rectangle of silicon, looking a lot like what’s already sitting inside your computer. Some RAM upgrades involve inserting a new RAM module into the RAM slots on your desktop or laptop.

How RAM Works

Imagine RAM as if it were laid out like a big grid, kind of like the board on a Battleship game. Each box in the grid represents a memory cell, and each cell can store information. You can access any cell within RAM if you know what row and column it is in.

That’s why more RAM means a faster computer. The more squares on the grid, the more data your computer can process and store. This makes programs run faster (ie, more efficiently) for your machine.

Information in RAM memory cells can be overwritten or erased. That’s one of the ways it differs from read-only memory (ROM). Your computer’s ROM is hardwired into your machine’s circuitry. It contains the information that allows your computer to perform basic functions such as booting the operating system or activating hardware.

What Does RAM Do for My Computer?

RAM usage is critical to allowing your computer to run applications. Your computer stores temporary information within the memory cells and refers to the data as it runs applications.

If the information is not in your computer’s RAM, the computer must refer to its hard drive. This is slower than pulling information from RAM. Therefore, if your computer does not have enough RAM to run many applications or even one large program, it may feel like it is spinning.

All computers have a maximum amount of RAM. When you hit that limit, you’ve gone as far as your hardware can go. But unless you’ve customized your computer, chances are your computer has plenty of room for extra RAM.

Before You Upgrade Your RAM

The first step in upgrading RAM involves gathering a little information. First, you need to know how much RAM your computer already has. Next, it’s time to look at how your RAM is being used through an app like Task Manager on Windows.

From there, you can free up RAM using a few different methods. Finally, if you still find that your computer is not performing fast enough, you can buy and install more RAM in your computer.

Checking Your RAM: Windows PCs

To see your current RAM usage, open Task Manager on your Windows PC. Next, select the performance tab and click on memory. This will allow you to see how much RAM your machine is currently using, whether both RAM slots are full and how many gigabytes of RAM you currently have.

Checking Your RAM: Macs

What if you’re using a Mac? Apple has made it easy to find out how much RAM you have in your computer. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen. Select the option that says About This Computer. You will see a line that says Memory. This is how much RAM your Mac currently has.

Information on Your RAM Upgrade Ability

Once you know how much memory your computer has, you need to know how much it can handle. There are hundreds of different computers on the market and not all have the same features and limitations. It would be impossible to list them all here.

Fortunately, there are several online resources that keep track of this information. We recommend using:

These resources will not only tell you how much more RAM your machine can handle, they will also tell you what type of RAM you can install. There are almost as many different types of RAM chips as there are computer models; you have to match the right RAM to your machine.

One Stick or Two?

If your computer uses dual-channel memory, you may need to install two modules (or sticks, as they are sometimes called) of RAM instead of one. So if you want to upgrade to 8 or 16 gigabytes of RAM, you may have to install two separate RAM modules.

Make sure both modules have the same specifications, otherwise the dual-channel feature will not work.

A program to improve RAM for free,

Before you go out and buy some not-so-cheap RAM modules, it’s good to know that you can get more performance out of your current RAM with a few relatively easy steps. Then, if you’re still finding that your computer is slow, you can chip away at that hard dough.

  1. Keep up with updates. Having an old OS can make your computer’s RAM use better than it could be. By staying up to date with the latest operating system, you can ensure that you are getting the best performance out of your current RAM.

  2. Less multitasking. Running programs takes up memory, and if you have a lot of programs running at the same time, this can tax your RAM. To free up RAM, try closing programs you don’t need at the moment.

  3. Restart your computer. This is a classic and reliable method to free up RAM on your computer. Sure, it’s annoying – who wants to spend a few extra minutes waiting for their computer to shut down, then booted up? – but it can really help.

  4. Adjust virtual memory. Virtual memory is a way around RAM limitations. In both Mac and PCs, going into your System Settings will allow you to maximize your virtual memory.

  5. A clean house. This is another one of those simple but labor-intensive processes that will help improve your computer’s performance. By deleting files and programs you don’t use, you’ll make the most of all the RAM you currently have.

Download the RAM to your computer

Now that you know how much RAM you have, how much your computer can handle and the type of RAM chip you need to buy for your machine, you’ll need to buy the new RAM modules and get a few tools.

In most cases, all you need is a small screwdriver. When in doubt, consult your computer’s user manual.

Power Down

Before making any modifications, make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged. If you’re upgrading a laptop, it’s a good idea to remove the battery before you begin.

Open your computer’s case with your screwdriver and locate the part on your computer’s motherboard that contains the RAM. Consult your user manual if you need help. Some laptops even have a specific panel you can remove to change RAM modules.

Before you touch any component inside your computer, you must discharge any static electricity you have built up. The elements inside your computer are very sensitive to electricity – hitting them with a quick zap of your finger could damage them.

But discharging static electricity is simple: You just need to touch something metal before continuing.

Remove Old Memory Modules

If you are replacing existing memory modules, you will need to remove the ones that are currently on your computer. Many personal computers use clips to hold RAM in place. If this is the case, gently lift the clips and remove each module from its RAM slot, then set them aside.

Install the new RAM

Next, take your new RAM out of its cover. Be careful not to touch any of the metal connectors or circuitry on the module. Line up the module with the slot in your computer. Most PCs have a notch to guide you so you don’t install the module incorrectly.

Gently push the module into the RAM slot. Once you have the module installed, you can close the clips, replace the computer cover and you are ready to go.

Power Up Again

Don’t forget to replace the battery if you are working with a laptop. Plug in the computer, turn it on and check your system RAM. If the updated information is correct, you are set!

If not, you may have to restart. If you still have problems, you should turn off the machine, unplug it, open it and check to make sure the module is installed correctly.

That’s all there is to it.

With more RAM, your computer will be able to run more applications at the same time without consulting your computer’s hard drive. Although you didn’t increase your computer’s processing speed, you did decrease the amount of time required to check specific data. It’s an easy and relatively cheap way to get more life out of your computer.

Lots More Information


  • Apple. msgstr “iMac: Memory specifications and upgrades.” March 17, 2009. (May 6, 2009)

  • Apple. msgstr “Macbook: How to install memory.” March 17, 2009. (May 6, 2009)

  • Computer Memory Upgrade. msgstr “Installing Laptop Memory.” 2003. (May 4, 2009)

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  • Kingston Technology Company. (May 5, 2009)

  • Microsoft. msgstr “Find out how much RAM your computer has.” (May 5, 2009)

  • Pass, Adam. msgstr “Hack Attack: How to install RAM.” Rescue tractor. November 22, 2005. (May 5, 2009)

  • Rosental, Maurice. msgstr “How to upgrade a laptop – Upgrading Laptops or Notebooks.” 2008. (May 5, 2009)

  • Steer, Kirk. msgstr “How to upgrade your computer’s RAM.” PCWorld. February 27, 2007. (May 4, 2009) .

  • Walker, Andrew. msgstr “How to Add RAM.” January 1, 2008. (May 5, 2009)

Original article: How to Get More RAM (Random Access Memory)

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