CNS wants to help! How do I add more RAM to my PC?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is essential to a well functioning computer. All computers contain RAM in some capacity. When you first purchase a PC or laptop it will contain enough RAM to run base functions at a steady pace. When you begin to add more software or applications to your PC or laptop the speed can significantly slow down. This is usually the cause of a 5 minute start up, you know, when you first get into the office you push the on button and even after you have made your coffee and answered a few phone calls your PC is STILL starting…. This happens because the more you put on your computer, the more RAM it needs to function well.

How much RAM do I need?

Before you buy 4 extra gigabytes of RAM you may want to consider what your daily functions are on your PC. Do you only use your PC for word processing, email and internet? Or, do you use your PC for those things plus graphic design or QuickBooks and maybe Inventory Software? The Former can be done with around 1gb of RAM. Usually a PC will have something close to this when you buy it. The latter will need more. The best way to start is by adding more than you would need but not so much that it is unnecessary. For today’s technology demand, 2-4 GB of RAM should do well for whatever you will be doing.

How do I install it?

SAFETY CHECK: First, before you do anything, make sure that you unplug your PC completely and maybe even move it away from the power source if that will make you feel safe. We do not need anyone to get an electrical shock during this process. Keep all liquids away from the PC as well so that there are no spills or accidents, which can ruin the parts inside of the computer tower.

Open your computer case. There is often a latch on the back of the computer that has a screw in it, so you may need a screwdriver (probably Phillips). Some new computers have a latch on the top (Dells). It will be easier to install the RAM if your computer is on a solid surface on its side, with the motherboard facing up toward you.

SAFETY CHECK: Ensure that you do not have static built up on your body. Static can damage computer internals. Do not wear a wool sweater, do not drag your feet on carpet, and do not rub a balloon on your head unless it’s absolutely necessary. If necessary, you can purchase a small wrist band that can connect to a ground to prevent static discharge.

Once you have the case open and are free of static, you need to locate the RAM slots on your motherboard. Most of the motherboards in computers have 2 or 4 RAM memory slots. Most RAM slots are located on the top of the motherboard, on the right-hand side. You should see something in the computer that is similar to what you purchased.

If you have an extra empty slot, put the new RAM in that one. If there is only one slot available, push the clamps open to release the chip. The clamps are on the side and are typically white. Push them toward the sides of the computer. There is one clamp on each end of the RAM chip. Remove old memory. Hold RAM by the ends, and do not touch the chips or metal connectors. The old memory may be kept or sold.

Look at the new memory and survey the motherboard memory slots. The RAM ports should have a notch in each memory slot. Hold the RAM chip carefully by the ends or plastic parts. Do not touch the metal or chips. Line up the notch on the motherboard with the notch on the new memory.

Press gently but firmly until the clamps close completely. You may need to push the clamps in toward the chip, but do so very gently. If the chip does not fit, do not force it. Try putting it in the other way.

Remove dust from the computer, if it’s dusty, using a bottle of compressed air. These are available at any office supply store. Do not blow air too closely at the computer. While you have the computer open, now is a good time to do this.

Close the computer and reattach all of the cords to the computer, including the screen and power cord. Turn on the screen and turn the computer on. The computer should present a screen that shows a message about detecting new memory and the amount of the new memory. The size displayed may not be exactly how much you purchased. Operating systems calculate memory differently and some computers dedicate a certain amount of RAM to specific functions (e.g., video), decreasing the amount available. For example, you may have purchased 1 Gigabyte of RAM. The operating system may only display 0.99 Gigabytes.

As a last check, check the system settings to make sure the RAM is okay. (In Windows, press and hold the Windows button and press the Break/Pause button on the upper-right of the keyboard. The RAM amount should appear in the lower part of the menu.) The system settings will probably say less than the amount you installed, e.g., 0.99 G for 1 G of RAM.

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