A Step by Step Guide to Installing RAM

Published on 08-02-2007  | 

As today's applications offer more and more functionality, they require additional RAM memory to get their jobs done. Over time, a older computer will appear to slow down as newer, more RAM intensive applications are loaded on it. In fact, as programs begin to demand more RAM than is available, Windows starts using your computer's hard drive to temporarily store information from the RAM memory - a process called swapping. Swapping is a much slower process using the RAM directly. Adding RAM to your PC is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to boost its performance.

Most computers today use DIMM memory. DIMM RAM comes in several variations, so it is important to purchase the right memory for your computer. Websites like sell memory online and offer a vast RAM compatibility directory. Be sure to check what kind of memory you need before you make your purchase. Buying the wrong RAM can damage your computer or reduce its performance levels.

ram1 installing ram

Toady's PC's offer anywhere from two to four memory slots. Before you purchase your RAM you will also need to find out if your computer has an open DIMM slot. If you have an open slot, you can simply add another stick of RAM memory to increase the total available to your computer. If all of your slots already have RAM sticks in them, you will need to remove an old stick and replace it with a stick containing more RAM than the old one had.

Now that you know how many RAM memory slots your PC has and you know what kind of memory your computer requires, it is important to know how much you have to begin with. To find out how much RAM memory you have in your PC, open your control panels window and double click on system (double click on performance and maintenance first if you don't see the system control panel). Once you have the system control panel open, you should be able to see how much RAM Memory your computer has now. Remember this number, as the end goal will be to increase it.

Many people are quite casual in the way they handle RAM memory sticks. In reality, these components are very sensitive to electrostatic discharge (ESD). In fact, an electrostatic shock that you wouldn't be able to feel is strong enough to completely destroy a RAM memory module. For this reason we recommend you ware an antistatic wristband to prevent damage to your RAM memory modules during the installation process. If you do not have an antistatic wristband, you can still upgrade your own memory. If you don't have one, diligently remember to touch something metal on the case of your computer each time before you touch the RAM memory module.

ram2 installing ram

Now that we have the right RAM memory and have discussed handling it, it is time to grab your philips screwdriver and take off the cover of your computer's case. Not all computers open in the same way, so it is important to pay attention to how you expose your computer's motherboard. Some PCs, like Dell for example, often open without the need for a screwdriver at all. However your computer opens, you will need to gain access to the main circuit board inside the computer, commonly called the motherboard.

On the motherboard you will find anywhere between two and four memory slots. These slots will be notched to only allow your memory to be installed in a particular direction. Pay attention to the notching of the slot in relation to the notching in your DIMM memory module, as attempting to force memory into a slot in the wrong direction can cause damage to your motherboard, the memory module, or both.

If you have an open memory slot on your motherboard you can simply insert a new memory module to increase your computer's total RAM memory. If you do not have an open slot, then you will need to remove an existing stick of memory to install the new, larger one. You will notice that each each memory module is secured in place by two white clips. These white clips are textured so you can pivot them away from the memory module. When you do so, you will notice the memory module raise up out of the RAM memory slot on the motherboard. Once both white clips have been released, you can safely remove your old RAM module. Keep it in a safe place (preferable the packaging that your new RAM memory module came in) in case you need it at a later time.

ram3 installing ram

With the old DIMM module out of the way (if necessary) you are now ready to install your new RAM memory module. As mentioned before, take care to note the proper orientationof the RAM module before you attempt to insert it into the motherboard. Once you have the RAM module properly oriented, insert one corner of the module into the white plastic clip. Asyou do this, the clip will begin to rotate into a fully upright position, grip the RAM memory module, and secure it in place. You may hear a "click" sound when this process is complete. Once one side is secured, make certain the RAM module is straight in the slot and then apply gentle downward pressure on the module until it clicks into place as well.

Don't put the side panel of your computer back on yet! There is one more important step before you can be certain that you have successfully upgraded your computer's RAM memory.

With the new memory module in place, you need to confirm it is working properly To do this, plug your computer back in and turn it on. If you get a series of beeps and the computer is not functioning properly, consult our beep codes chart to determine the cause of the problem. If the computer boots properly, open up your control panels window again and open the system control panel. Look at the amount of reported RAM memory and compare it to the original amount you had. You should have an increase that is roughly equivalent to the amount of RAM memory you installed (less any memory you had to remove if you had to do so).

If your reported amount of memory is less than it should be, your memory module may not be seated properly in the motherboard slot, or it may be defective. Immediately shut down your computer. Double check that you purchased the correct memory module, and make certain it is properly seated in the slot on the motherboard. If you continue to experience problems, exchange the RAM memory module where you purchased it. If you are still experiencing difficulties, consult your local computer repair center.

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