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by Ray DeCosta

Q. A friend told me I should add more RAM (Random Access Memory) to my computer. How do I do this?

A. One of the best and most cost-effective upgrades you can make to your system is to install additional RAM. After doing this, your computer will be faster and more responsive. Typically, the minimum useful RAM for an XP system is 1 GB (gigabytes) and 2-4 GB for Vista or Windows 7.

What many people don't realize is that you can't just run down to your local store and pick up some additional RAM. Not only is the determination of exactly what kind of RAM to get quite confusing, but different systems can only accommodate fixed amounts.

The easiest way to get accurate information is to visit the Crucial Memory website. They have a "System Sniffer" which will look at your system and determine the specifications and amounts of RAM you should purchase. You will have to let Crucial install a small program to do this but it is perfectly safe to allow them access to your computer. On their website, go to the "System Scanner" tab and click on the "Scan My System" button.

The scanner will report the amount and type of memory you already have along with suggested upgrades. You can order directly from Crucial or use the information obtained to price your new memory elsewhere. If you're uneasy opening your computer, you might want to ask one of your computer friends to install the RAM for you.

Published: Courier 8/7/11 - Page 5C