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How To Install RAM on your Desktop PC

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 6/2/2011

You have a great computer, and you really don't think you need another system. But, she's running a little slow, and seems to lack the pizazz she used to have when running your programs. How do you get the speed back into your system without upgrading to an entirely new PC? That's easy! Upgrade the amount of RAM on your PC! Need to know how? That's what this is for!

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    RAM is short for Random Access Memory. This part of your computer acts as the short term memory, whereas the hard drive acts as the long term memory. Your applications need a sufficient amount of RAM to function properly. At some point, every system will need an upgrade in RAM. This is a cost effective way to get a new system, without breaking the bank to buy a new one. Depending on the vendor and the amount of RAM you are purchasing, you can expect to upgrade for $20-$100.

    For more information on RAM, take a look at this article: Computer Components: What is RAM?

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    Things You'll Need

    • Sticks of RAM (2 or 4 depending on upgrade and motherboard capacity)
    • Anti-Static Bracelet (optional, but cheap)
    • Any tools required to remove the case of your computer
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    Step One

    Shut down your computer, and disconnect the power. You will have the case open, so you do not need power running to anything, for your safety.

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    Step Two

    Remove the case that protects the inside of your computer. Before touching any internal components, either wear the anti-static bracelet, or touch the metal casing of your computer. This will prevent damage to the components.

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    Step Three

    Locate the RAM on your motherboard. The slots you are looking for are usually long, thin, and black. Each motherboard has a different set-up, but you should be able to figure it out based on the RAM sticks you have purchased. The larger capacity RAM sticks should be located in the first two slots, if you have four.

    If you have two slots:

    • Release the clips on the sides of the ports. (May be top and bottom of the port depending on your motherboard.)
    • Remove the RAM sticks. Place them to the side for safe keeping. You may be able to use them in another computer, or sell them.

    If you have four slots:

    • Release the clips on the sides of the ports.
    • Remove the RAM sticks.
    • Unless you are installing four new sticks of RAM, put these to the side to install again in the lower two slots in the next step. If you are installing four new sticks, place these two to the side for safe keeping.
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    Step Four

    Now that your RAM ports are empty, open your new RAM sticks, and be sure to discharge static electricity again (just to be safe!). Insert each stick of RAM into its own slot, and press firmly until you hear a snap. This indicates the RAM is snugly in place. Push the clips in on the sides to be sure that the RAM stays in place.

    If you have four slots and are upgrading two sticks, place the two sticks that were already in your computer in the two lower slots.

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    Step Five

    Replace your computer cover. Reconnect your computer's power, and re-boot the system. You will see an indication that the computer has new (or more) memory. You successfully installed RAM, and you should notice an increase in your overall system performance.

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    Tips, Warnings, and Other Information

    • Remember to discharge static electricity by touching the outer case of the computer, or by wearing an anti-static bracelet during installation.
    • Consult your computer manufacturer's website to determine the type of RAM your PC will support before making a purchase.
    • Install RAM in pairs. It helps your system to better handle the upgrade.
    • Do not overload your motherboard. Most motherboards can only handle 4GB of memory.
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    Other great 'How To' guides from this writer

    >>> How To Partition Your Hard Drive in Windows

    >>> How To Run Two Operating Systems on One Hard Drive

    >>> How To Defragmenting Your Hard Drive in Windows

    >>> How To Defragment System Memory (RAM)

    >>> How To Clean Internet Junk from your Computer