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How to Upgrade Your Desktop Computer Memory

by Paul Sanders

Computer upgrade

Things You Need:

  • Compatible RAM
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Your computer
  • Latex gloves (optional)

You might not know that you can upgrade the RAM (random access memory) of your desktop computer to boost speed and performance. Your computer uses RAM to shuffle and store temporary information while it makes calculations to run programs. This computer memory is different from your hard drive memory. The important thing to remember is that installing more memory on your desktop computer will give your computer more "room" to maneuver information quickly and efficiently. Don't be intimidated about opening up your desktop computer to install computer memory yourself. By taking proper precautions and following these steps, you'll learn how to upgrade your computer memory properly.


  1. Learn how much RAM you currently have. Check your user manual or help file to learn how to find your computer's properties. Once you find the properties on your computer, the amount and type of RAM memory currently installed on your computer memory will be displayed. Copy this information down.

  2. Learn which RAM is compatible with your computer's motherboard. Your desktop computer is made up of a main circuit board called a motherboard. Your RAM memory card will plug into one of the motherboard's slots. Consult your user manual to learn which kinds of slots are used and which kind of RAM is compatible. If it isn't listed in the manual, read the model number directly from the motherboard inside your computer and search the manufacturer's website for RAM specifications. Your desktop computer will accept either a SIMM (single in-line memory module) or a DIMM (dual in-line memory module). The instructions for installing each type of computer memory have slight variations, so consult the instructions that come with your computer memory.

  3. Choose the amount of RAM you need. RAM is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). The amount of computer memory that your system needs depends on the type of programs you'll be running. Check the system requirements for software you want to use and use the recommended RAM requirements as your minimum for computer memory.

  4. Prepare your computer. Turn your computer off but leave it plugged into the surge protector. Disconnect all external devices, like the keyboard, mouse and speakers. If possible, work on the computer in a non-carpeted area to reduce static electricity. While working, maintain contact with the metal frame of the computer. This will ground the static away from your body and electronics.

  5. Remove the cover from your computer tower. If you haven't already, remove the computer cover and set it aside. Take a look inside and note where everything is connected. You may want to take a few digital photos in case you need to disconnect anything. You will see the existing computer memory cards already plugged into one or more motherboard slots. If you have extra upgrade slots, you can leave the old computer memory where it is and use free slots or you can replace it altogether. There might be a lot of dust inside the tower, which can cause heat build-up and component corrosion. Purchase compressed air in a can to clear out the dust without damaging the components.

  6. Install the new computer memory card. Maintain skin contact to the metal frame of the computer. Holding the computer memory card by the edges, firmly place the memory card into the motherboard slot. Different types of computer memory cards have variations for installing them, so be sure to read your user manual. Push the card down gently but firmly until you hear the retaining clips click.

  7. Test your new RAM upgrade. With the cover still off, plug the monitor, mouse and keyboard into the computer. Turn on your computer. Check your computer properties as you did in step one. The amount of computer memory should now match what you have just finished installing.


  1. Read you user manual thoroughly before working on your desktop computer. Follow all instructions exactly to make sure you are installing computer memory correctly.

  2. Follow all safety instructions and wear appropriate protective gear whenever you work with electricity or tools.

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