“Gigabytes, Gigahertz? What is this stuff?” (Part 2)

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Comments   |   Computer General

Let’s Talk About Memory (RAM)

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Memory and RAM are generally interchangeable terms. RAM stands for “Random Access MEMORY” and “memory” is another way to refer to the same thing. A lot of people have hard drive space and memory confused. “Memory” makes one think, “Oh, that’s the stuff I have stored on my computer!” but that’s not true. “Memory” is a slightly confusing term that on a practical level refers to how much the computer can do at one time. Memory is normally measured in quantities of GB (gigabytes) such as 1 GB, 2 GB, 3 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB, 8 GB. Most computers do not have yet ship with 12 GB or 16 GB of memory, although those denominations will become more common in the future.

More memory means you can do more things at one time without your computer slowing down on you. Generally speaking, a system with more memory is going to be faster than a system with less memory. There are exceptions, of course. If you have a Windows XP machine, 1 GB of memory will run just fine under the majority of workloads. A Windows Vista machine needs at least 2 GB of memory in order to not drive the user insane with slowness slowness. A Windows 7 machine operates best with 3 or 4 GB, but can operate well on as little as 1.5 or 2 GB.

Again, I would like to stress that “memory” is not what is “stored” on your computer. The purpose of memory is to give the operating system (Windows) room to work. Allow me to illustrate: Imagine working on a car in a garage. You have plenty of room to work, plenty of room for your tools, and you can be productive because you have enough room. That is sort of like Windows operating with an ample amount of memory. Now, imagine working on that same car, but rather than working on it in a garage, you are working on it in a bathroom. There is no room for the car, let alone room for your tools or even for you! That is like what Windows tries to do when it does not have enough memory–such as a Windows XP machine with 256 MB, or a Windows Vista machine with 1 GB, or a Windows 7 machine with 512 MB. It’s just not enough room! You need to upgrade your memory!

I hope this has been helpful. Next week, we will talk about hard drive space–what it does, and what to look for.

Au revoir,

Scott Davis
Store Manager and Lead Technician
Powell Location

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