Originally created 11/29/97

Get more RAM if speed is what you need



Q:The computer I am currently running has a Pentium 133 with 24 megabytes of RAM. I use the computer in my work as a free-lance writer, with most of my work being done on WordPerfect 7.

With memory prices now so cheap, would I benefit by increasing my RAM to 48 MB? (As I understand it, the way my memory is configured, I would have to get rid of two 4 MB chips and add to the remaining 16 MB, making it likely that I would add 32 MB.)

Would this give me enough of a boost in word-processing speed to make the upgrade worthwhile? Would it speed up any other uses, such as accessing the Internet?

I have had no serious problems with speed thus far, so I am not desperate for an upgrade, but I am somewhat concerned with potential memory needs for future applications (for example, I understand that WordPerfect 8, a copy of which I'll move to shortly, runs best with 32 MB of RAM).

A:Let's run through the basics of why more RAM potentially speeds up your computer, and then we'll let you make up your own mind. Windows uses something called virtual memory - really disk space - that adds more memory as it is needed by swapping stuff from RAM to the disk. Obviously, that takes time, and if you have a little bit of real RAM and a lot of programs, things can slow down. You notice this is happening if your computer pauses a lot while the disk light flashes.

Adding more real memory reduces disk access, which tends to speed things up a bit. Running a current Web browser suite such as Internet Explorer 4.0 or Netscape Communicator, along with a word processing program that recommends 32 megabytes of memory, could overload your computer.

The improvement won't be dramatic, but at current prices it is probably worth adding another 16 or 32 megabytes of RAM.