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Old 09-21-1999
Jim Sexton Jim Sexton is offline
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RAM on Board

What is RAM used for and why should I have so much? Aren’t eight or 16 MB enough for electronic charting programs?

D.J.

Jim Sexton responds:

The RAM in your computer is used to store the operating system and all running programs or applications. If your RAM memory is too small to hold the operating system and all running applications, then the computer is forced to use the much slower hard disk as a buffer to hold extra information. The process of moving blocks of memory to disk for temporary storage is called swapping. This will drain performance and cause a serious speed bottleneck.

Although great strides in processing power have pushed computer performance to higher and higher levels, most complaints about computer speed are the result of too little RAM. Personally, I would far prefer to use a computer with a marginal processor and lots of RAM than a computer with a fast processor hamstrung by a small amount of RAM.

The following is my suggested minimum and recommended amounts of RAM for various computer applications based on my experience in setting up systems and working in tech support. These numbers are not only my own opinion, but also the recommendations of computer experts. If you follow these guidelines, you will find your computing experience much improved. For each PC and Application the first number is the minimum suggested RAM and the last number is the recommended RAM.

PC with Windows 95/98, with a standard office suite, web browser and e-mail: 16MB; 32MB

PC with Windows 95/98, all the above uses plus electron charting: 32MB; 64MB

PC with Windows NT 4, with standard office suite, web browser and e-mail: 32MB; 64MB

PC with Windows NT 4, all the above uses plus electron charting; 64MB; 128MB