Think you need a new computer?
If you’ve got a PC or laptop so slow it reminds you of the dial-up days, there’s probably a quick, easy and cheap solution.
In fact, you might be able to get your current computer running like new again for as little as $25. All you have to do is add more memory, called RAM.
“Today’s computers are engineered with processing power that far surpasses the demands of most users,” said Roddy McLean, a spokesman for Crucial.com, which makes and sells memory storage.
“Most computer performance issues result from not having enough RAM memory, thus forcing the computer to prioritize the use of RAM,” McLean said. “Upgrading a computer’s RAM memory is an easy, cost-effective fix that often yields immediate results.”
OK, so that middle part sounded like “beep boop beep” to me, but I can tell you adding more RAM to your computer really is easy, and it makes a huge difference in your computer’s performance.
I had always heard my tech geek friends talk about RAM, at which point my eyes would glaze over and I would assume they were talking about some abstract swirl of particles.
But I’ve learned to think of RAM as being much like those little memory cards you have in your phone or digital camera. In fact, switching RAM in and out or adding more is just as easy as dealing with those memory cards or changing the batteries in a remote.
You’ll probably want to add RAM to your computer two to three years after you purchase it. While it can cost as little as $25, the average consumer spends $80 to $100 to upgrade their RAM – which is still much cheaper than a new rig.
There are a zillion YouTube tutorials on how to upgrade RAM yourself, and any techie friend will be able to walk you through the process, but you can also pay a professional to do it for you.
Specifics will vary slightly depending on whether you’re using a laptop or desktop, but here’s the basic idea for a desktop PC.
1. Figure out what kind of RAM you need. If you don’t get the right kind, your computer won’t turn on.
You can run Crucial.com’s Crucial System Scanner Tool for free, which will tell you exactly what kind of RAM your specific computer takes.
2. Turn everything off, unplug and press the power key down for five seconds to make sure there’s no electricity coursing through. Remove all the wires.
3. Use a screwdriver (or the computer’s thumbscrew) to open the side panel.
4. Look for the little RAM modules inside. You’ll know what they look like because you’ll have the new ones you just bought.
5. If there are free slots, add the new RAM by snapping it in to the extra slots. Don’t force it. You’ll see a little notch that lines up with a corresponding one in the slot to know you’re putting it in the right way.
6. If there are no free slots, you’ll first have to switch out one of the existing RAM modules by pressing down the little arm alongside it and popping it out.
7. Close it up, plug back in and enjoy your “new” computer!
Note: It takes just 10 volts of electricity to fry a motherboard, so prevent static by working on a bare table. You can also touch something metal before you start. A file cabinet works great.