Do you need more RAM?


RAM is a common go to upgrade from the past for additional performance that isn't applicable for many systems today. In the past RAM was so expensive most people couldn't afford to have enough so adding more RAM if you could was a no brainer. Not having enough RAM does degrade performance quite a bit. These days RAM is so cheap many typically have 4GB which is more than enough for the average user and adding more does little to nothing for the performance of the system. For higher end users such as Gamers or Graphic Artists having 8GB will typically be enough.

In your computer there are two types of memory. The RAM that I discuss in the paragraph above which is fast short term storage and gets erased when the computer is shut off or restarted, and then there is slow long term storage called your hard drive and it keeps all of the information when your computer is shut off or restarted. RAM is very fast, hard drives in comparison are very slow. When you turn your computer on, your computer attempts to load everything it is going to need off of your slow hard drive into your fast RAM. If you don't have enough fast RAM to hold everything your computer needs to operate, your computer uses a portion of your slow hard drive for virtual RAM, and that is when you take a performance hit for not having enough RAM.

If you have 16GB of RAM, and your computer uses 4GB or less to operate, you will have 12GB of RAM that will mostly sit there and do nothing. The money spent on that extra RAM would have been better spent else where such as a solid state drive.

Solid State Hard Drives


Hard drives are moving to a new type of technology called Solid State. What's the difference? No moving parts which gives you a huge performance increase. So much so a 3-5 year old computer with a an i3 CPU and a Solid State Hard Drive will appear to run faster than a brand new computer with an i7 CPU and a regular platter drive.

Typical boot time for a standard mechanical drive is 45 seconds or more before you get a responsive desktop and can open applications. Typical boot time before you get a resposive desktop and can open applications for a Solid State Hard Drive will be around 12-20 seconds. With a Solid State Drive most things like Microsoft Word will open in 1 or 2 seconds vs. 5, 10, or 15 seconds on a mechanical drive.

One of the most common failures - Mechanical Hard Drives


A standard platter based hard drive is a high precision mechanical device. It has platters that spin between 5400 and 7200 times per minute depending on the drive. The heads read so close to the platters that a tiny particle in between the head and the platter is enough to cause damage. They are also very susceptible to damge from movement while running.

Another more important interesting fact about your hard drive, it holds all of your data. If your hard drive fails, there is a good chance you will lose the data on the drive.

What can you do? Back up your data. When I say that to customers sometimes it is met with a sigh or a look of panic and a question "How do I do that?" Backing up does not have to be complicated. Backing up simply means having a copy of your data in another place so if the device holding your data in one place fails, you have a copy in another place. However you accomplish that is up to you. You can copy and past your data on a regular basis to an external pen drive or hard drive. You can have an automated process that does it for you. A cloud based backup solution that handles everything automatically might suit you better. However you do it, make a copy of your data on a regular basis so it is always in two places.


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