One of the biggest complaints I always hear from people about their computers, even brand new ones, is how slow their system seems to be.  My first question is always, “How much RAM do you have?”, and I almost always get a blank stare in return.  You know that “cheap” computer you just bought?  There was a reason it was that price, and usually RAM is one of the most common cutbacks to lower those prices.  However, not all is lost if you’re willing to spend a few more dollars to solve the problem.

ramRAM is short for “Random Access Memory”, and is possibly one of the most important parts of your computer.  When purchasing a computer, people can easily get lured in by the size of a Hard Disk Drive (HDD), but all that space will be for naught if your computer doesn’t have enough memory to run what you are currently working on.  While HDDs stores the files and programs, RAM is the memory that handles everything on your computer that is currently being used. So, the more RAM you have, the more programs you can have open at any given time, or the smoother they will run.

This problem really became more glaringly obvious to a lot of people as Windows Vista required huge amounts of RAM to run properly.  While it told you the minimum requirements, it really was ‘the minimum’ you needed, and it didn’t take into account all of the fancy bells and whistles of that system, such as the Aero Glass visual effects.  So while Microsoft listed 2 GBs as the minimum amount of RAM needed for the operating system, you needed three to four to really make it run smoothly.

Another thing that can slow down your RAM is if your graphics card doesn’t list any dedicated video memory.  In this case you are probably running a graphics system that uses “shared memory”,  meaning that the video system and the main computing will be sharing the same memory.  If that’s the case, then more RAM is going to be essential as you have to figure at least a portion of it is being used for graphics.

While the easiest solution may be to just plop some more RAM is, there are definitely some steps you need to take first.  First off, not all computers use the same chips, so when buying RAM you need to use a seller like Crucial which will either let you select your model of computer by model number, or it will scan the system you are on to tell you what you need.  They will also answer questions for you like if you need to install in pairs, how much memory is the maximum for your computer and so on.  You can also do this at pretty much any local computer store.

So if your system seems like it could use a little bit more speed, think about dropping $50 or so on RAM, but also make sure you purchase it with some advice so that you don’t end up frustrating yourself when it doesn’t work.