Aug 27, 2008, 14:42 GMT
Consider 2 GB of RAM a requirement for all editions but Vista Basic. EPA/KEITH BEDFORD/HO
Washington - If there's one way to get more from your computer equipment, it's by adding memory. More memory can often make your computer equipment work more efficiently, allowing you to be more productive or simply to have more fun. But figuring out whether you need more memory or which type you need is not always easy. Read on for some solutions.
Q: I bought a new black and white laser printer. The model I purchased can accept twice as much memory as it came with. What's the advantage of adding more memory to the printer?
A: More printer memory will generally allow you to take advantage of all that your printer has to offer - its maximum rated speed, the highest resolution it provides, and its ability to handle pages laden with both graphics and text. Also, if you share your printer over a network or at home, adding more memory should allow several people to spool print jobs to the printer without receiving error messages from the printer.
But if your printer is currently handling all of your printing chores adequately, then there's no reason to rush out and buy more memory just because you can. One of the reasons that printers offer an option to upgrade the memory - rather than having the full amount installed from the outset - is that many people will never need or use features of the printer that require the maximum amount.
Q: I'm about to buy a new computer with Windows Vista installed. How much memory do I really need to run Vista?
A: Consider 2 GB of RAM a requirement for all editions but Vista Basic. You'll be able to operate Vista adequately with less RAM - even as little as 512 megabytes. But you won't be able to do much multitasking or have large documents or photographs open at the same time. When Vista does not have enough memory to do what you're asking it to, it will use your hard drive as a form of temporary memory. That means Vista will spend time writing and erasing files, which will slow down your computer altogether.
So make 2 GB your target amount of RAM, and consider adding another 2 - for a total of 4 - if you regularly use many applications at the same time.
Q: I went out to purchase memory for my desktop computer and became confused almost immediately. Can I mix unbuffered and registered memory?
A: No. You need to find out whether your motherboard uses unbuffered or registered memory. The two are not interchangeable. Typically, consumer-level desktops and notebooks use unbuffered memory. Advanced servers often use registered memory, which often comes with ECC (error checking and correction) as well.
Registered/ECC memory may sound like a better idea, given that it can correct errors, but there's a downside. Usually registered/ECC memory is slower than unbuffered memory, and most experts recommend sticking with unbuffered memory unless you intend to install more than 4 GB in a system.
In terms of which particular memory to buy, check out an online memory wizard such as the one available on Crucial.com (http://www.crucial.com). By answering a few simple questions, you can determine exactly the type of memory required by your computer, and you can then purchase your memory either at Crucial or at another online vendor.
Q: I have 4 gigabytes of RAM installed in my Vista computer, but Vista only shows 3.2 gigabytes when I check in the System part of the Control Panel. Does this mean I have defective memory?
A: No. Most likely it means that you're using the 32-bit version of Vista, which can utilise a maximum of 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM. Although Vista 32-bit can 'see' 4 GB of RAM, it uses some of that memory to store essential system files. Therefore, the amount of available free RAM reported to you in the System dialog box is typically substantially less than 4 GB. On some computers, the amount of free RAM listed on a 4 GB system is just over 3 GB.
The only way for you to get more available free RAM is to upgrade to the 64-bit version of Vista. This version comes on the same DVD with the 32-bit version of Vista if you purchased Vista as an upgrade or off the shelf. Note, however, that you cannot simply upgrade to a 64-bit version of Vista from the 32-bit version by popping in the Vista 64-bit disk and clicking 'upgrade.'
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