Mike Binns
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Is What I Have Enough?

As the saying goes: "You cant get blood from a stone". If the computer you are using is too old, you simply are not going to be able to get it to do what you want, even after cleaning up the software on it.

First off: Even if you do feel that your computer is too old based on what this page says, you should still do all the steps that are recommended in the Software Section. You should also look into how much it would cost to Upgrade the RAM in your computer. You may find out that your current computer, after being cleaned, works fast enough for you. It will also allow you to keep your old computer as a clean, running, secondary computer should you decide you want a new one.

What do I Have?

The two items you need to know are the CPU speed/processor type of your computer and the amount of RAM memory you have. If you already know this, you can skip down to the "Is It Enough" section.

CPU Speed/Processor type

The CPU (Central Processing Unit) speed simply means the number of computations that the processor chip in your computer can do in one second (number of hertz). 1.5 gigahertz (1.5 ghz) means 1.5 billion computations every second. This is traditionally the single main indicator of a computer's "speed".

Connected to your CPU's Speed is the CPU type, or Processor type. There are two main brands, Intel (creates the pentium's) and AMD (creates the Athlon's). Within each company, there are a few different processor types (Intel has Pentium 4, Pentium 3, Celeron, etc. and Athlon has the Athlon XP, Athlon MP, Athlon Duron, etc.).

When you put these together, you get your standard computer description: I have a "P4, 3.2 Ghz" (Pentium 4 processor running at 3.2 gigaherts) or an "Athlon XP 2.8Ghz" (Athlon XP Processor running at 2.8 gigaherts).

To figure out what your CPU type/speed is, you need to right click on the "my computer" icon on either the desktop of your computer or the start menu and then click "properties". Alternatively, you should hold down the "windows" button on your keyboard and press the "pause/break" button.

NOTE: Some older operating systems do not show you what the processor speed is. If the CPU speed does not show up on system properties, but the RAM does, you will have to find out what the processor speed is a different way, either by remembering what it was you bought, or by finding the box it came in, etc.

RAM Memory

RAM Memory is what your computer uses when you run programs. Think of it as the short term memory of the computer. RAM is different from "Hard Drive" (long term memory) in a few very important ways. This chart does a good job at explaining the differences. The benefits of ram are that it is millions of times faster for your computer to read than Hard Drive Space, while the disadvantages are that it is "volatile", meaning when you shut off your computer (or it crashes), it gets wiped out. RAM is also much more expensive than Hard Disk space.

Because of this, your computer uses both RAM and Hard Disk space, each for different purposes. All your programs and documents are stored long term on your hard disk, that way they aren't deleted when you turn off your computer. When you turn on your computer, and "run" a program, you are loading that program into RAM memory, this is necessary because the CPU can access the RAM millions of times faster than it can the Hard Disk.

If you either don't have enough RAM, or have enough but your computer has too much spyware running (and therefore taking up the ram), your computer will run out of RAM very quickly. If your computer runs out of RAM, it has to use "Virtual Memory", which means it uses the Hard Disk instead of the RAM. Remember how the hard disk is millions of times slower than RAM? This means your computer grinds to a halt, even if you have the fastest processor on the market.

To figure out how much RAM you have, you need to right click on the "my computer" icon on either the desktop of your computer or the start menu and then click "properties". Alternatively, you should hold down the "windows" button on your keyboard and press the "pause/break" button.

Is It Enough?

As with anything, your specific needs may vary. These recommendations are for the standard home user.

CPU/Processor

For a Processor type, you should have either a Pentium 3, Pentium 4, Celeron, Athlon, or Athlon XP. For Processor Speed, the absolute minimum you should have is 1ghz. I recommend you have at least 2ghz on a desktop and 1-1.5ghz on a laptop. If you are any less than this you really need to consider upgrading. The 1ghz chip is now over 5 years old.

RAM Memory

Because of how much RAM affects your computer, desktops should have a minimum of 512MB of ram, I recommend 1GB (1024MB). In a laptop, RAM is more expensive, so a minimum of 256MB, with a recommended 512MB.

Note: Because most people only look at the CPU speed when purchasing a new computer, computer manufacturers have traditionally put their money into the CPU, and taken it out of the RAM, so most brand name computers out there have way too little RAM. Because of this, if you purchased a brand name computer in the past few years, you probably would benefit most from upgrading the ram. See this section for an explanation of how to purchase RAM.

Next >> I need more RAM, how do I get it?

Or

Next >> I need a new Desktop, what should I buy?

Or

Next >> I need a new Laptop, what should I buy?






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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Although these instructions have been tested on thousands of computers without incident, and chances of any damage or loss of important data resulting from following these instructions are virtually zero, there always exists a very small chance that something could go wrong. I add the following warning not because I ever believe that anything will happen but because today's lawsuit happy world requires it:

Although I will attempt to assist you (via the contact me form) with issues that arise from following these instructions, you are using this website at your own risk, and I am not legally responsible for any damage or loss of data that may occur related to the use of this website.


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