How to install RAM

RAM, also known as Random Access Memory, is similar to your short term memory. An analogy might be effective in understanding how it works…

Say it’s Saturday morning and you need to run some errands but since you only have a few things to do, you choose to keep them on your mind without writing them down.

The more RAM, short-term memory, you have – the more tasks you can keep in your head at once. Writing them down on a sheet of paper would be like saving to a hard drive, which loosely resembles your long-term memory.

So increasing system RAM will most likely increase the performance of your computer. If your computer has been slow lately and you’ve taken all the steps you know to speed up your computer, then it might be time to add some RAM. Incidentally, I would also argue that replacing your hard drive with a SSD is the single fastest way to speed up your machine.

Believe it not, installing RAM is easy; the hardest part is often surmounting the fear of opening a computer. Once you leap that hurdle you’ll find that installing RAM isn’t as arduous as you thought.

1. Find out the exact kind of RAM that’s required by your desktop or laptop computer

The easiest way is to enter your serial number into the search field of your computer manufacturer’s support web site. Usually the support page is simply the manufacturers’ home page prefixed by the word “support”. For example, I entered support.lenovo.com into Google Chrome to bring up the support page for my Lenovo laptop.

2. Buy the RAM online

Online is cheapest. In my experience, Amazon and NewEgg offer the thriftiest prices.  But you don’t have to buy the RAM directly from the manufacturer’s website. I’ve often found better deals by searching the internet for deals. Just make sure you’re searching for the right thing; you did record the exact RAM modules you need from the manufacturers web site right?

3. Open the Computer and Insert the RAM

The key thing to remember is that you probably won’t break anything as long you don’t force anything. Also, keep away all hazards like liquids (and kids) and finally remove anything that could cause static electricity like carpet, sweaters and those balloons statically clinging to your hair from your kid’s birthday party.

When you’re ready to install the RAM this is what you should do:

Shutdown your computer

Make sure it’s completely powered down, but leave the power cord plugged into the wall. Why? Because if you inadvertently generate a static charge you’ll transfer it to ground through the power line instead of the motherboard where the sensitive memory modules reside.

Remove the case

Most computers built after the year 2000 have screwless cases that open by lifting a latch or turning a thumb lock. Once inside, touch the case chassis to ground yourself. You don’t have to keep your hand there, touching it once is usually sufficient to remove any static charges.

Focus on the insides

Next turn your attention to the insides of the computer case.

Isn’t it glorious? If you’re using a laptop it’s not as eventful, but the inside of the desktop computer never ceases to fill me with geek giddiness. After your excitement abates, find the memory modules that hold your current RAM sticks. These slots are long, narrow rectangles that are the same length as the RAM sticks you just brought.

Line up the RAM

Line up the RAM with the memory slots and gently insert in at a 45 degree angle. The slots are notched so that it only goes in one way. Gently push in the memory card until it can’t go anymore then tilt it forward until it’s standing straight up at 90 degrees to the motherboard. Most RAM slots have plastic clips on the ends that snap into place when the memory stick is seated correctly.

Turn on the Computer

If you’re using Windows, login, then hold down the Windows Key and press the Pause button to see your system memory. Alternatively, you can right click on Computer or My Computer and click Properties to see your new added RAM.  Windows should show the full about your purchased; however, sometimes it doesn’t.  I wrote an article that explains why Windows might neglect to display all your RAM.

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