32-bit and 64-bit Windows: Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. 

Upgrading from the 32-bit version to the 64-bit version of Windows requires that you reformat your hard disk, install the 64-bit version of Windows, and then reinstall everything else that you had on your device.

Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings > System > About .
    Open About settings

  2. At the right, under Device specifications, see System type.

Windows 7

  1. Select the Start button , right-click Computer, and then select Properties.

  2. Under System, see the system type.

To install a 64-bit version of Windows, you need a CPU that's capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows. The benefits of using a 64-bit operating system are most apparent when you have a large amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer, typically 4 GB of RAM or more. In such cases, because a 64-bit operating system can handle large amounts of memory more efficiently than a 32-bit operating system, a 64-bit system can be more responsive when running several programs at the same time and switching between them frequently.

To run a 64-bit version of Windows, your computer must have a 64-bit-capable processor. To find out if your processor is 64-bit-capable, do the following.

Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings > System > About .
    Open About settings

  2. At the right, under Device specifications, see System type.

Windows 7

  1. Select the Start button , and then select Control Panel. In the search box, type Performance Information and Tools, and then, in the list of results, select Performance Information and Tools.

  2. Select View and print detailed performance and system information.

  3. In the System section, you can see what type of operating system you're currently running under System type, and whether or not you can run a 64-bit version of Windows under 64-bit capable. (If your computer is already running a 64-bit version of Windows, you won't see the 64-bit capable listing.)

Find out how to choose between the 64-bit or 32-bit version of Office.

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