Memory Tips

Read these 27 Memory Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about PC tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What is PC Memory?

Adding with ease:

Adding memory. Most people hearing this phrase conjure up adolescent nightmares of unsuccessful attempts at building model cars. The truth is it's a lot easier. Your owners manual should provide you with step by step details. However, here are few key things to keep in mind. Before installing anything make sure your computer is off. After opening the case look for the computer's memory expansion sockets located on the motherboard. Insert the memory module at an angle and make sure it's firmly in place. Consult your owner's manual for more specific instructions.

   
What is the latest product in DDR RAM technology?

DDR-3 SDRAM

The latest in DDR RAM memory was announced last year, and labeled DDR-3. Expected to be in new computers this year, DDR-3 technology has the ability to produce faster results at a higher speed. It provides a higher bandwidth compared to DDR-2 RAM technology, but accomplishes this while using a decrease in electrical power. As a result, computer users can expect a longer battery life, in laptops for example, while being able to maintain a lower power consumption.

   
What is a memory card?

Memories that never fade

When a memory card is damaged it doesn't necessarily mean your pictures are done for. There are all kinds of software designed to recover digital files from damaged cards. If you have this software load the card on your computer through a regular USB card reader. Not your camera. If the software still doesn't help there are services that specialize in this problem. To prevent any future problems like this from occurring it's important to always back up your files.

   
What are dual inline packages? What does is meant by 256 MB of memory?

Dual Inline Packages

The first set of memory chips created were the DIP pins configurations. DIP stands for dual inline package. This configuration was great for older computers that needed only a small amount of RAM compared to computers today.

The DIP pin configuration has been replaced by creating a separate memory circuit board or memory module which could then be attached to the computer's motherboard.

The memory modules are usually referred to as 8x32 for example, which states the number of chips on the modules multiplied by the number of megabits of each chip. So a 8x32 memory module would have eight 32-bit memory chips, or memory of 256 megabytes. Now you know what someone means when they say your new computer has 256 megabytes of memory.

   
What is PC Memory?

Memory: Forget this

Just like good ‘ol mom never forgets, computers have the same uncanny ability. Sometimes it's good to have these records when you have a problem. Other times it can drain your memory needlessly -- like web surfing. Every website you go to the computer remembers you were there and what you did. The information collected is called cookies and cache. To make sure you maximize your memory use it's probably a good idea to empty this collection of cache and cookies every so often. If you're not sure how to do it search through the help index on your computer platform.

   
What is PC Memory?

PC memory: A look back

PC Memory got its start back in the early 80s. The first amount included in computers was around 16 kilobytes. Today, you'd probably use that much in a 1paragraph word file. In PCs today it's not uncommon to find up to a gigabyte of memory. Two types of memory are found in your PC -- RAM (Random Access Memory) & ROM (Read Only Memory). ROM is the little memory needed to start up your computer. In contrast, RAM is pretty big since it's used for everything else. To save some cash it's better to buy a computer with more RAM than spending extra bucks to add extra memory later.

   
What is a memory card?

Memory made to watch or print

Looking to make your digital life even easier? Check out the next generation of TVs and printers. They've been designed to totally nix one of the steps for viewing and printing pictures. The download to the computer process. Just pop your Secure Digital Card directly into a slot on the TV or printer and you're in business.

   
What is a memory card?

Card Comparison

A memory card is a card that contains a unit of flash memory. Today, the top two formats of these cards are Secure Digital Card (SD) & MultiMedia Card (MMC). Both can be used in a ton of devices. Though overall, SD cards are more durable and faster. However, on average MMC costs a bit less.

   
What is a memory card?

Memory Card Care

Yes, memory cards are made to last, but that doesn't mean they're made to be indestructible. One of the most common ways to damage a card is using it in a device with low or no battery power. If a battery dies in the middle of taking a digital pic it could screw up your card. Impatience is also a key killer of cards. Snapping a new picture before the last one has had a chance to registered on the card could cause problems. Finally, the most obvious way to damage the card is inserting it incorrectly.

   
What is PC Memory?

The Memory Minimum:

Don't think you'll need too much memory for your PC? You probably won't if you're going to use your computer for a giant paperweight. However, if you're planning to run a platform like Windows XP you'll need around 256mb. Games use even more. Plus, photo albums, word files, Mp3s…the list goes on and on. Today, to be on the safe side a gig of memory should keep you covered.

   
What is a memory card?

Memory Game

Memory Cards have also entered the gaming arena. Now, game systems are equipped with slots that use their own type of memory cards. These cards store game levels, characters and more. One card can also handle a number of games. However, before choosing a game memory card make sure your game system will accept it.

   
What is fast page mode random access memory?

FPM RAM

FPM RAM stands for fast page mode random access memory. It is faster than DRAM, and functions by accessing different memory addresses once, instead of every single time. However, FPM RAM is only suitable for low-end model computers operating at 66 MHz and below.

   
Can you tell me information about SDRAM?

Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory

Synchronous dynamic random access memory was first made available in 1997 for speeds of 66 MHz. It is also used with speeds of 100 MHz, 133 MHz, and 150 MHz. The popularity of SDRAM has skyrocketed since its first introduction. As its name states, SDRAM has the ability to provide synchronization with the Central Processing Unit.

   
do you know exactly what you need to upgrade?

Laptop Vs Desktop

There are several differences between laptop and desktop computers. The most obvious difference is, of course, desktops are stationary and laptops are portable. More importantly, though, is that upgrading them can be a completely different process. Again, this sounds obvious.

A common mistake made by people who may not have a lot of computer experience is purchasing the wrong kind of upgrade. Take RAM as an example. Computer memory used in laptops is not the same as in desktops. Often times people do not pay close enough attention to the designation before making a purchase.

It is important to know how many memory slots your system has. Desktops usually have four and laptops only two, or even one. If your laptop has 1GB of RAM in two slots it will have a 512MB chip in each slot. This means that you do not want to buy a 2GB chip, but rather two 1GB chips. Do you need DDR RAM or DDR2 RAM?

Current higher performance laptops will max out at 4GB, while it is becoming more and more common to see desktops with 8GB. Computer memory can make or break your whole experience, so make sure to know what you are purchasing.

   
What is virtual memory?

Virtual Memory

Virtual memory is a term you might hear, but it is not something you can really buy. If you are running several applications at once and run out of RAM, this is where virtual memory comes into the picture.

When all of your RAM is being used and you attempt to open another application or execute a command, inactive content stored in your RAM is temporarily moved to your hard disk storage to make more room for active content. This is essentially a way for your system to act as though it has more RAM than it really does.

Information stored in virtual memory will be transferred back to RAM once it is accessed again. If you receive a warning that says your machine is low on virtual memory, it means that you are running more simultaneous applications than your RAM and hard disk can handle.

If you regularly see these types of warning messages or feel that your computer is slowing down substantially when you try to run multiple programs at once, this is usually a good indicator that a RAM upgrade is needed. Some machines can only support a certain amount of computer memory, though. Make sure your system is capable of the upgrade before making a purchase. If it cannot be upgraded, it might be time for a new computer.

   
Do you know what L1 and L2 cache do for you?

Cache Is Money

Another type of memory used by your computer is called cache memory. Cache is built into your processor or located right next to it. Simply put, this type of computer memory stores commands that are repeatedly used to run programs. So commands that you execute most often are stored in your processors cache so that they can be executed much faster.

If the cache is located in the processor itself, it is called L1. If it is located on a chip next to the processor, it is called L2. Memory designated L1 will be faster, but both will be substantially faster than RAM by at least double. The more RAM and cache memory your computer has, the more efficiently you will see your day-to-day tasks executed.

When buying a computer, look for L1 and L2 cache in the specifications. The price will go up a bit the higher this number goes, but it is worth it to the overall performance of your new computer.

   
Upgrade to Vista but didn't upgrade your RAM?

Everything Is Connected

When building or upgrading your computer keep a few things in mind. First, RAM has to be compatible with your motherboard. DDR RAM will not interface with a motherboard designed only for DDR2 RAM. So make sure to match the configurations.

Second, check the speed of your RAM and make sure it does not exceed that of your motherboard. Being that the two are designed to work in conjunction, installing memory faster than the motherboard can handle is a waste of money.

Third, if you are upgrading from Windows XP to Vista you will need more RAM. Vista is a more complex operating system, but one that will run fine with the right amount of memory. A common mistake is upgrading from XP, which could easily run on 512 MB or 1 GB, but not upgrading the RAM. For Vista, you should have 2GB or more to run smoothly.

Finally, just like your processor, graphics card and other components, think about what you value the most. Gaming? Short boot time? Multi-tasking? All of these factor into what type of RAM and how much is ideal for you. The leg bone is connected to the hip bone ...

   
What does RAM do?

Random Access Memory

Random Access Memory (RAM) is computer memory that allows you to multi-task. It is the memory that allows you to complete a specific job faster while doing other things too. Typing in a word processor while listening to music on your system and surfing the Web all at the same time may be taxing. Having more RAM, as well as higher quality/speed RAM, will let you run multiple programs at one time and minimize any lag or delay in their performance. It can also seriously cut down on your boot time.

Whether building your own computer or buying one in a store or online, remember to check how much RAM the system is packing. Anything less than 2GB is not recommended. That number used to be much lower, but with advancements in both hardware, software and newer operating systems, 2GB is the bare minimum. If you go the 4 or 8GB route you will see a huge difference in your computer's performance. It's memory the size of an elephant.

   
The computer cannot read my new memory! How do I fix this?

Troubleshooting Problems With Memory

If you have installed new memory but the computer fails to acknowledge this, there are different factors to consider. To troubleshoot this installation, test the following areas:

If you have installed memory that was not purchased new, have the memory card tested to see if it is defective.

Another option to troubleshoot the installation is to check if you correctly installed either the SIMM or DIMM added. If the card is not installed correctly, it will not be able to function.

A third point to consider is whether the new memory has been configured properly. This can cause error messages as well. Do not hesitate to run memory testing software.

   
Is there free memory testing software available?

Free Memory Testing Software

The Internet makes it possible to download free software to test your memory. MemMXTest is a free public license software allowing users to check if there might be a problem with their computer's memory. The software is able to test the CPU, L1, L2 cache memory, and generate a report highlighting the test number, the address that failed the test, the failing data pattern, and other errors with the same address that failed.

A second type of software that can be used to test a computer's memory is DocMemory. DocMemory will report all the areas that fail the memory test. The test is run from a diskette, so make sure you have an empty one available.

   
When Should I Upgrade My Memory?

When Should I Upgrade My Memory?

There is no set number of rules to follow when considering if your computer will need a memory upgrade. However, there are general tips, which can be adopted.

Many computer technicians would advise you to upgrade your memory after key times. These key times include after upgrading to a new operating system, and upgrading to a better sound or video card.

When you have decided to install a better version of the operating system you are currently using, it is a good idea to think about upgrading your memory. Your old memory might have been fine for the older operating system, but this might not be the case with the advanced features of the new operating system.

Often computer owners decide to upgrade their memory after they have replaced a sound or video card. Upgrading your memory is especially important when the new video or sound cards are high-end models. Your cards will work more effectively with higher memory.

   
How does EDO RAM compare to FPM RAM?

EDO RAM

EDO RAM or extended data-out dynamic random access memory is faster than FPM RAM. It has the ability to access bytes of information as soon as the last byte has been found. It is ten to fifteen percent faster than FPM RAM and operates at speeds of 75 MHz.

   
Is DDR SDRAM an improvement over SDRAM?

DDR Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory

DDR SDRAM provides double the speed of SDRAM. When it was first introduced, it was used with speeds of 200 MHz and above. However, DDR-2 is now used more often in new computers than DDR RAM. This is due to the fact that DDR-2 can be used with higher CPU clock speeds providing a transfer of one gigabyte per second.

   
How does a computer technician upgrade my memory?

Memory Upgrades By Computer Technicians

If you are not capable of upgrading new memory into your computer, you should send your computer in to have the memory upgraded by a professional. In order for a technician to upgrade your memory, they will determine what type of memory is currently installed. It is very important for them to know what type of memory your computer takes.

They will open the back of the computer case and insert either a SIMM or DIMM into the sockets, being careful not to touch the pins.

The back of the computer will be closed, and from there, it is just a matter of discovering if the computer recognizes the newly upgraded memory.

   
What is dynamic random access memory?

Dynamic Random Acess Memory

The most well known type of computer memory chip is DRAM, or dynamic random access memory. As the name states. this type of memory is dynamic and has to be continually refreshed or it will lose the information it contains. It was one of the first types of memory chips to be used, but now SDRAM and DDR RAM is used in its place.

   
What memory modules are available?

Memory Modules

The memory modules can be divided into three main categories. The first category is the SIMM memory modules. SIMM stands for single in-line memory module. Using SIMM memory modules means that someone would usually have to install more two modules in order to reach a decent amount of memory for their computer. The SIMM vary from a 30-pin connection to a 72-pin connection capable of 256 megabytes of RAM.

The second category of memory modules is the DIMM or dual inline memory modules. These are larger in size with 144 and 168 pin connectors, and can be installed as a single unit to receive the amount of memory needed. DIMM memory modules can provide up to 1 gigabyte of memory.

The third category of memory modules is the SOIMM or small outline dual inline. These are smaller than the regular DIMMs, and are used on Macintosh computers.

   
What is RDRAM?

Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory

Rambus dynamic random access memory uses a Rambus Inline Memory Module (RIMM). RDRAM can function at a higher speed, however, it also produces a high amount of heat that needs to be dissipated. Even after the Intel Corporation, advised the use of RDRAM, it was still unable to gain as much popularity as SDRAM.

   
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