How to Increase the Memory Capability of Your Computer

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This article describes how to increase your computer's memory capability or available random access memory (RAM). This may be useful if you want to increase your computer speed and performance so that you can run more programs simultaneously, and so on.
NOTE: This article is for informational use only. It does not contain any troubleshooting information. If you are searching for troubleshooting information that is not mentioned in this article, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base again by using keywords that are listed in the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
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To increase your computer's memory capability or available RAM, use either of the following methods:

Note: Although there are different types of memory in a computer, this article only describes computer RAM and virtual memory.

Increase the Amount of RAM in Your Computer

For information about how to add more RAM to your computer, contact the manufacturer of the computer, or view the documentation that is included with your computer.

When you consider increasing the RAM on your computer, keep in mind that you are adding a physical piece of hardware to your computer. Understand that there are risks involved with replacing hardware components in your computer, so you should consult your hardware manufacturer or an organization that specializes in hardware if you have questions. For RAM to work correctly in your computer, it must comply with the requirements of your motherboard.

IMPORTANT: Note the following precautions before you upgrade the RAM on your computer:

  • If your computer is under warranty and you remove the cover from your computer, you may revoke the warranty. Consult your hardware manufacturer for more information before you proceed.
  • Determine how much RAM you have on your computer. To do this, right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop, and then click Properties. The amount of RAM that is installed on your computer is in the Computer section.
  • Determine how much RAM you need. Usually, if your computer slows down when you have many programs open, or if you are working with large files, you may want to install more RAM.
You may want to consider the following tips before you purchase RAM for your specific motherboard:

  • Contact your hardware manufacturer before you install new hardware to ensure that the warranty is not revoked if you remove the cover from your computer.
  • Check your owner's manual or motherboard manual to determine if your RAM is parity or non-parity.
  • Determine the speed of RAM (measured in nanoseconds).
  • Determine whether the computer uses single in-line memory modules (SIMMs) or dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs).
  • Determine whether the computer uses Fast Page-mode DRAM (FPM DRAM), Extended Data Out DRAM (EDO DRAM), Burst EDO DRAM (BEDO DRAM), Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), or RAMBus DRAM (RDRAM).
  • Determine the number of pins on the motherboard: 30, 72 or 168.
  • Determine the number of open RAM slots that are available on your motherboard.

Alter Your Virtual Memory Settings

Windows Millennium Edition (Me), Windows 98, and Windows 95 use virtual memory to augment your computer RAM. Virtual memory is a method of using your hard disk as temporary storage for data that may normally be stored in RAM. By using this method, Windows can provide extra resources that effectively add additional "virtual" memory and extend your computer's capabilities.

WARNING: Although you can alter the virtual memory settings, they are already configured for you by default; do not alter the virtual memory settings unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Also, before you alter these settings, note the current configuration information so you that can restore the original settings if necessary.

To alter the virtual memory settings:

  1. Right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Performance tab.
  3. Click Virtual Memory, and then click Let me specify my own virtual memory settings.
  4. Click the hard disk that you want to use for virtual memory, and then select the minimum and maximum amounts of virtual memory.
  5. Click OK, click OK, and then restart your computer.
NOTE: If necessary, you can restore the original settings. To do so, repeat steps 1 through 4, but click Let Windows manage my virtual memory settings (Recommended) in step 3.

Article ID: 259184 - Last Review: Sep 23, 2011 - Revision: 1