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Simple Tips for Speeding Up Your Home PC
Illustration by Neil Webb

What is RAM?


From:

Simple Tips for Speeding Up Your Home PC

with Laura Bungarz

Video: What is RAM?

One of the ways we can speed up our computer after we've been through all the things we can do ourselves, is to start to buy or upgrade the hardware that's in the computer. One of the simplest, cost-effective, best ways to speed up your computer is by upgrading the RAM. But what is RAM? RAM stands for random-access memory. Think of it as the short-term memory for your computer.

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Simple Tips for Speeding Up Your Home PC
45m 55s Appropriate for all Jul 09, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Is your computer sluggish? Cluttered? Bursting at the seams? In this course, author and computer teacher Laura Bungarz shares some of her favorite techniques to help you speed up your home PC. Learn about defragmenting, checking your RAM, sorting files, and using utilities you already have to clean up "behind the scenes." Laura will also provide tips on upgrading your computer and, if your budget permits, looking for a new PC.

Topics include:
  • Cleaning the desktop
  • Organizing files with folders
  • Using Disk Cleanup, msconfig, and Disk Defragmenter
  • Freeing up disk space
  • Buying and installing RAM
  • Upgrading your computer
Subjects:
Business Productivity Home + Small Office
Author:
Laura Bungarz

What is RAM?

One of the ways we can speed up our computer after we've been through all the things we can do ourselves, is to start to buy or upgrade the hardware that's in the computer. One of the simplest, cost-effective, best ways to speed up your computer is by upgrading the RAM. But what is RAM? RAM stands for random-access memory. Think of it as the short-term memory for your computer.

Every time you open a program, every time you open a file, it goes into the RAM. RAM is much smaller than your hard drive. Your hard drive is hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes of space; it's huge. The RAM is a considerably smaller space and therefore much faster for your computer to access and pull information off of. When you turn on your computer in the morning and then you go ahead and turn on Microsoft Word or Powerpoint or whatever, that first time after you restart that computer, it's slower.

Partly because the computer's probably still trying to load up all the software. But it's slower because there's nothing in the RAM. The RAM refreshes itself every time the computer is restarted. So after you've used it once and you close it down and then you go back to it later, it's faster the second time. The reason it's faster the second time is because now that information is in the RAM. So the computer doesn't have to look as hard or go as far to find that information again.

Why should we upgrade? Well, number one, it's cost-effective. RAM is cheap. It's also a really, really easy way to upgrade your computer. One of the main reasons why computers slow down over time is the lack of RAM. As hard drives grow, as we install more software, as we do more stuff, that RAM gets used, and it fills up. So what you want to do is give yourself more space. You can increase your virtual memory, that's part of it, but that's not the whole story.

If you increase the RAM, you'll also help prevent those virtual memory errors. It's also really easy to install. A home user that's semi-comfortable with the inside of a computer can install RAM. That's why to upgrade, and that's what RAM is.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Simple Tips for Speeding Up Your Home PC.


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Q:  Can I defragment a solid-state hard drive?
A: It is not recommended to defragment a solid state drive (SSD). If you are confused about whether or not you have a solid state drive verses a standard hard drive there are a few ways to check. One way is to simply go into the Control Panel through your Start menu and go to the Device Manager. Look for the Disk Drive option, click the little plus (+) sign to the left of it and check the name of the hard drive listed. If it doesn't say outright one way or the other a simple Google search of the name of the hard drive will provide you with the information you need.
 
Another way to find it is by simply going into Computer or My Computer and right-clicking on your hard drive, probably C:. Under the Hardware tab it will tell you what type of hard drive you have. Again, if you're still unsure, do a simply Google search to find the information you need.
 
 
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