How Much RAM Does Your PC Really Need?

Frank DeLuca is a field technician for Tech Experts.

First off, note that how much RAM (along with the type and speed) that your system supports will depend on your motherboard.

Consult your PC/motherboard manual, or, if your PC was manufactured by an OEM, use a system checker such as the one found on to find out what RAM is compatible with your system.

Adding RAM to your computer is not a process that will magically make everything run faster. But it can aid your PC in multitasking and performing intensive-heavy tasks like loading 20+ browser tabs, content creation like editing videos or images, editing multiple productivity documents, and running more programs at one time.

Computers may experience significant slowdowns when running a large number of programs at once with low memory.

If all RAM space has been used when trying to open programs, the computer resorts to using virtual memory on the hard drive, which slows the computer down quite a bit.

Upgrading or adding additional memory can eliminate this problem as the computer doesn’t have to resort to using the hard drive for slower pagefile memory.

How much RAM you need in your computer depends heavily on what you use your PC for on a day-to-day basis and on how long you intend to keep the computer.

If you are thinking of investing in a new machine in the near future, waiting things out until your purchase might be the best bet.

If you already have a computer you love but want to shift gears into a different daily task that requires better performance, then upgrading your RAM as part of the process is a great idea and can breathe some extra life into your computer.

If you use your Windows 10 computer for word processing, checking emails, browsing the Internet, and playing Solitaire, you should have no problem using 4GB of RAM. If you are performing all of these activities at once, however, you might experience a dip in performance.

Many budget PCs come with 4GB of RAM as a base option. If you plan on keeping your machine for several years, then opting for 8GB of RAM is the safer bet, even if you use it for light tasks.

Video and Photo Editing
This really depends on your workload. If you are editing quite a bit of HD video, go for 16GB or more. If you’re working mainly with photos and a bit of video thrown in, 8GB should get you through. Again, in this instance, it may behoove you to opt for 16GB to give yourself more future-proofing headroom as photo and video quality is only getting better with file sizes exponentially increasing and becoming more memory intensive. Editing will work on lower amounts of RAM, but you’ll become so frustrated with the poor performance that you’ll soon start yearning for an upgrade.

In a nutshell, here are some simple guidelines that apply to most PC devices:

  • 4GB: Entry level memory. Comes with budget notebooks. Fine for Windows.
  • 8GB: Excellent for Windows and Mac OS systems. We recommend this for most people.
  • 16GB: Ideal for professional work and the most demanding tasks.
  • 32GB and beyond: Enthusiasts and purpose-built workstations only.

Remember, buying more RAM than you need doesn’t net you any performance benefit. It’s effectively wasted money.

Buy what you need, and spend what’s left of your budget on more important components such as the CPU or faster storage space like a solid state hard drive (SSD) which can be 10 times faster than a conventional hard drive.

RAM And You: How Much Memory Do You Need?

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Is there anything as frustrating as experiencing issues with your computer? There are many different performance issues that can affect your experience as a user.

If your computer is running slower than normal (or slower than it should), there are so many things that can factor in. One of the more common causes is system memory being over utilized.

First, we have to understand the different types of “slow” your computer expresses.

If Internet pages are slow to load but programs like Microsoft Word are quick and responsive, your speed issue is Internet related.

If programs are slow, lag out, or won’t respond, you are dealing with a system issue.

In these cases, a restart can be your best friend. If a restart doesn’t help your system, take a look at your resource usage. The task manager will show in real time the usage of your CPU and memory (RAM).

Let’s say your RAM usage is high, even after a restart. This is a problem and you just don’t have enough system memory to support your daily tasks.

How does this affect your system? What can you do about it? How much is enough?

A shortage of RAM on your computer wreaks havoc on the system performance. It not only limits the work that the RAM is capable of handling, but it also affects the CPU and the hard drive performance.

When applications need more than the available RAM, they use virtual memory from the hard drive. The amount of virtual RAM can be increased in your system by increasing the size of your paging file.

While this may help to run your programs, your system performance will suffer greatly.

The virtual RAM your system will use is much slower than physical RAM, causing a bottleneck where you are now reliant on the speed of your virtual memory. This limits the speed of data traveling between the CPU and RAM as well.

We know the RAM is limiting our performance. While the paging file allows you to run the programs you need to work, your system performance will make multi-tasking nearly impossible.

The best thing at this point is to upgrade to more physical memory.

There are some limitations to upgrading your RAM. Operating systems have a maximum supported amount of RAM. This varies from operating system versions, from year to year, as well as 32-bit versus 64-bit.

Your motherboard and CPU could also have a maximum amount of RAM.

RAM sticks come in different memory quantities as well and each slot in your computer may have a maximum, as well as an overall system maximum as well. A single stick of RAM can be 512mb or 8gb and anywhere in between.

RAM also comes in many types that can vary based on your specific motherboard. Upgrading your RAM can make your system run better, but there are many things to factor in when you upgrade your RAM.

So how much RAM do you need? It varies for everyone, but the more programs you use, the more RAM you need.

If you are buying a new computer for modern business, a minimum, of 8gb is strongly recommended and 16gb is even better. If you run many programs, especially things like graphic and video editing software, you may want more. If you are upgrading your current system RAM, similar rules apply.

Your tasks and usage dictate your needs; don’t be afraid to give yourself one of the best performance upgrades out there by adding more memory to your system.

What Are The Seven Basic Parts Of A Computer?

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

People usually notice performance issues in their computers after five to six years. When that starts to be the case, a hardware upgrade can be a real boost to both performance and the computer’s lifespan. Where do you even begin when upgrading a computer, though?

Even though their inner workings can seem complicated, computers are actually made up of a few key parts.

Core Upgradable Components – RAM
Random-access memory comes in small removable cards (or “sticks”) that are inserted into the computer’s motherboard. RAM modules usually come between two and four gigabytes each, used in sets of two.

In a computer, RAM holds the code and data actively used by the CPU. Every program you have open takes up a certain amount of space in RAM. For example, using an Internet browser with 8 tabs open takes about 1 gigabyte of RAM.

Using up 95-100% of RAM capacity will usually cause the computer to crash, so it’s something you want to avoid. Adding more RAM to a computer will allow the user to have more programs running at once.

Hard Drive
The hard disk drive (HDD) stores the operating system and all user files on several small disks, called platters, stacked on top of each other. They are read by a mobile arm, much like record players.

Hard drive performance is determined by how much data the manufacturer is able to fit on each platter (areal density) and how fast the platters spin (RPM). Usually, the only public number is the RPM, either 5400 or 7200. A 7200 RPM hard drive is about 30% faster than a 5400 RPM one.

If you want real performance though, you need a solid state drive (SSD). Solid state drives are five times faster than 7200 RPM hard drives. They just have a little less storage capacity and can be more expensive.

Graphics Card
The graphics processing unit (GPU) handles graphics and image processing. Most business computers don’t have one since they just use database or word-processing applications. However, if you use any graphics intensive programs like computer-aided design (CAD), computer-generated imagery (CGI), or digital content creation (DCC), you will see a massive performance boost after installing a graphics card.

Other Parts In A Computer – CPU
The Central Processing Unit is the core of the computer. Every action taken by the user or a program is processed one-by-one in a CPU thread. Modern CPUs have multiple cores so that it can have more threads running at once. Four cores are the standard amount now.

CPUs are the main source of low performance on older PCs, especially if they were bought for a fairly low price to begin with. However, changing a CPU often requires changing the motherboard as well. Therefore, it is not a cost effective solution versus buying a new computer.

The motherboard is a large circuit board that all other PC components connect to. It is basically the framework that turns all of those pieces into a working computer.

The case refers to the outer shell around all of the components. Most cases come with several cooling fans installed. The main thing to remember about cases is that the smaller the case, the hotter the computer will be.

Power Supply
A small box with its own fan that runs power cables to all of the other parts. More expensive computers usually come with better power supplies, which is a good thing considering the severe damage that can occur when a power supply fails.

How Your Old PC Is Costing You Money

Ron Cochran is Help Desk supervisor for Tech Experts.

We all know that electronics become outdated almost as fast as you can purchase them, but what if I told you that holding onto that six to ten-year-old machine could be costing you just as much money as upgrading to a newer model?

Just like with any technology, the parts get smaller, more efficient, cheaper to buy, and cheaper to run. It could cost you real money in several ways: machine downtime, a sudden replacement when it crashes, paying an employee to redo their work after a failure.

Additionally, if a machine is extremely slow, tasks can be unnecessarily drawn out while employees wait for the computer to respond.

Then consider energy efficiency. That computer from 2008 could be using a 300w power supply that isn’t very energy efficient. Add an older, larger processor that is power-hungry to the mix and that 300w power supply is working at half capacity at 60% efficiency.

The use of other hardware – like your DVD ROM drive, USB, and video cards – can pull more power too, raising electricity costs.

Most computer manufacturers today plan on customers upgrading their technology within 3-6 years to keep up pace with the ever-changing software industry. Let’s say that, six years ago, you built your own machine with an almost top of the line CPU, more RAM than you needed, and a nice, fast hard drive.

That same machine will now have trouble keeping up with a machine of lesser quality.

This is partly due to the way software coding has changed, but also how electronic architecture has improved. The processors have gotten smaller and take less power, but work harder, faster, and more efficiently.

This shift in technology efficiency directly translates into more money left in your business account due to your employees being able to work more efficiently.

You also have to factor in data security once computers stop accepting essential critical operating system updates due to the lack of storage space.

Or how about that new graphic design software or CAD software you need to run that you can’t install because you don’t have enough RAM or a 64 bit operating system?

Once you need the 64-bit operating system, your RAM should be upgraded to run the operating system more efficiently.

The upgrades needed for older machines can pile up quickly.

The above principles apply to your company servers as well. Maybe even more so because of the amount of work they do and the data they store. In a server, the hard drives never stop spinning, the processors never stop processing.

You may have purchased an $8,000 server for your business, but if it was 12 years ago, it’s probably doing you more harm than good now. That server could be costing you more money in service calls for the issues that pop up or frequent, disruptive power cycles.

When buying IT equipment for your business or personal use, you should never buy something that is “just enough.” Not because it can’t do it, but because it will work harder to do the work, using more power to do it.

Think of it like a truck: a small truck CAN pull that new camper you bought, but a bigger truck will pull it more safely while costing you less money in fuel in the long run.

How To Keep Your Computer Speedy As It Gets Older

Evan Schendel is a help desk specialist for Tech Experts.

As a computer ages, it inevitably becomes slower. Applications and files can slow down a PC as quickly as dated hardware or too much heat or dust can. Preventive maintenance is the first and most important step to keeping a computer running as swiftly as it did on day one.

Extraneous Files

A computer’s storage can only hold so much and leaving it to sit and rot – especially if you browse the Internet frequently – can slow the system down to a snail’s pace.

Simply by using the programs on a machine, a computer can amass files that, if not removed, can add up to multiple gigabytes of unused and unneeded data. These do, however, tend to clean themselves up in time.

Unused applications, however, can take up space and slow down a system. Keeping in mind what applications you do and don’t use, and deleting the latter, can really help a workstation run much faster.

Dated Hardware

Bar none, the hardware parts of a PC are the most important pieces of a system. After all, it’s the system itself.

So, what do you do when hard drives begin failing and other mechanical nightmares begin plaguing your workstation? Replacing a system is easier than upgrading pieces of it at a time, but what are the benefits of replacing over upgrading and vice versa?

A PC tends to last five to seven years if well-maintained, or three to four if left in disrepair. Replacing a computer every five years may be easier in the short term, but computers aren’t free and the costs can add up if you are replacing more than one system.

Upgrading pieces of the computer cost only the part, but you would end up having to replace it yourself or have another person do it for you.

Additionally, you may run into limitations on how much you can upgrade based on your other hardware’s or software’s compatibility.

Upkeep of these parts is also important, so keeping the hardware installed cool and free of dust will extend the lifespan of the workstation quite noticeably.


Malicious files are an obvious culprit when a computer is running slowly and, most of the time, it’s a fair assumption. There are any number of viruses that could slow a computer down drastically, but in turn, there are many programs that help defend against them too.

Suspicious links and files received in emails or from sites you should be dubious of can, and likely will, infect your computer. Steer clear of these sites and ensure all links you click on are trustworthy.

Certain applications also may contain trojans, which lurk in your system for an extended period of time, only to reveal themselves when a certain application or service runs. Other applications can help spot and remove these before they even have a chance to set in.

Many things can slow a computer down, but proper maintenance can keep it running like new for years. If you haven’t kept decent care of your computer and it’s running slowly, some of these causes, or even all, may be the reason, giving a starting base in fixing the issues at hand.

What Are The Signs Of A Failing Hard Drive?

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

As a network engineer by day, I can say that have seen a lot of hard drive problems and, if they’re not taken care of properly, they can cause a severe technical headache. It is important to notice the signs that are present to you and, fortunately, there’s several to note.

Sluggish performance of your workstation is one of the main issues. This can occur without warning and it can even seem like a virus or cause a blue screen of death (BSOD).

Another sign is your PC or workstation making clicking or grinding noises. This can cause a read failure to occur and cause the drive to be inaccessible, which in turn causes data loss. [Read more…]

Double Your Screens, Double Your Productivity

Ron Cochran is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

When you think of a computer with more than one screen, you tend to think of a gaming computer or command center, but adding a second monitor can save money and improve productivity throughout the day. Having more than one monitor can save each employee several minutes to a couple hours each day, depending on the type of work.

Let’s break it down. It takes a few seconds to move the mouse and click a window or document; if you have to open that document, there is delay while waiting for it to load. Multiply that by how many times documents, programs, and windows are utilized throughout the day — then multiply that figure by the day, month, and then year. You could be saving thousands of dollars with just one employee.

You can add a second monitor to a laptop or desktop computer for a relatively cheap price. There are even monitors and stands on the market that will let you rotate into portrait mode (but don’t forget to change your display settings in your operating system as well).

There are a number of recreational and business reasons to consider getting a second monitor. One example is utilizing two or more screens for editing different types of publications, video, or still images. With dual monitors, you can edit and make changes to an image while comparing it against the original one on a separate monitor. That way, you can see in real time what you’re changing and with more workspace.

With many operating systems, you can have the monitors in a wide range of configurations. You could have: both in landscape mode (the way the typical user has a monitor — wider than it is tall), both in portrait mode (taller than it is wide), or one of each orientation (one landscape, one portrait).  You could also have one screen on top of another.

There are a couple drawbacks to adding a second monitor, but they can be lessened or resolved by getting one of several different mounting solutions. You can just set the monitors on your desk with the supplied stands or you can purchase a larger stand for both monitors. They also make a clamp style mount that would clamp or mount to the backside of your desk or desktop, which would frees up more desk space.

Some may think that having two screens may force the user to focus on too many things at once or clutter up their workspace, but the effect is typically the opposite. It has a staggering effect on productivity by making more resources readily available — to the point that some find it hard to go back to one monitor after using two or more. Utilizing more than one monitor has many benefits and a very few negative points and is something that should be seriously considered, especially for a business.

Don’t let the initial investment scare you off; you’ll immediately find yourself (or your employees) less frustrated and more productive… and dreading ever going back to one monitor again.

Free Windows 10 Upgrade for SMBs: What You Need to Know

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

While Microsoft has recently accounted that free Windows 10 upgrades have been reinstated, there is a caveat: They are only available to SMBs that have previously declined the offer.

If you fall into that particular category, now is the time to reconsider.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the free Windows 10 upgrade and how it affects you.

Is it open to everyone?
No. It is open to SMB customers on Enterprise plans that are running personal computers on Windows 7 or 8.1.

[Read more…]

Should You Upgrade To A Solid State Drive?

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

Solid state drives (SSD) are a relatively recent piece of technology that is slowly becoming more standard in the computer market, replacing hard disk drives.

SSDs are a very fast piece of technology that changes what we can do with computers, especially with mobile devices like tablets and laptops.

To understand the significance of an SSD, it’s important to understand the older hard disk drives (HDD) that most computers still use today.

HDDs are inexpensive and provide a large amount of space in a single drive. The speed of an HDD varies, but is very slow when compared to an SSD.

Since HDDs are cheaper, it is more reasonable to have large RAID of drives connecting to one another for backup purposes.

HDD are mechanical in nature in that it is a rotating disk spinning very fast with a single needle reading the information off of the disk.

Anything mechanical like this breaks down over time with wear and tear. If a laptop with an HDD gets hit or tilted at the wrong time, this can cause the HDD to break. For more portable and on the go devices, SSDs will not break nearly as easily as HDDs.

The biggest “pro” for SSD over HDD is the speed of an SSD in reading information.

For most computers, loading up Windows will take about a minute or much longer. With an SSD installed, Windows can load up in seconds. SSDs are about 10X faster than HDDs, possibly more depending on your set-up.

Having programs like Word and Excel open up instantly can drastically change your workflow and productivity. Having a faster drive means nearly everything you load from your computer will run faster as an SSD does not need to search for information like an HDD.

SSDs are still expensive when compared to HDDs, but are becoming cheaper with time. Currently, I can find a 500GB SSD for about $230 while a good HDD for the same space is about $100, so SSDs are little over twice as expensive as HDDs. Additionally, most HDDs will not fit into a laptop while all SSDs can fit into laptops.

If you wanted to upgrade to an SSD from an HDD, there is a cloning process where you can directly copy your drive information over to the new SSD as though nothing was ever changed other than the drive. This process would keep all of your programs and information and gain all the speed that comes with having a SSD.

If you want faster load times on your computer, have a laptop that moves around often, or you want Windows and Windows programs to start up almost instantly, then you want to upgrade your device to an SSD.

If you want a lot of storage with less expense but you can handle having slower speeds, keep your HDD. If you are interested in upgrading your computer but aren’t too sure yet, give us a call at Tech Experts and we can help.

Why Technology Is Important For Your Small Business

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

In modern computing, it is very important that you have a technological solution in place to allow smooth function at your small business. Here are 5 reasons why it’s important to do so.

Business Growth
As your business grows, you’re going to need a plan for expansion if you expect to grow. Technology changes every day and it’s important to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest tech in order to move forward in the growth direction. In today’s tech, there are even data growth solutions that will grow with your business automatically.

This not only saves time with expansion, but allows your business to save money in the long run. Technology is very important and should not be taken for granted in order for your business to thrive effectively.

On-The-Move Tech
As your business grows and you begin to move forward, you will need to be able to run your business from several locations. Technology allows you to do this from one central location. Utilizing tech makes certain that you’re not only monitoring your business at all locations, but that it’s more secure than ever.

From mobile devices to laptops to networking equipment, an IT professional will provide you with the best care needed to keep your business with you at all times.

Fewer Headaches With A Managed Plan
With a managed plan (such as the ones Tech Experts offer), your computer problems are monitored and are taken care of by a tech professional.

This cleans your hands of computer problems and allows you to run your business more effectively — minus the technology headache — and keeps your business running much more efficiently.

All workstations will be managed and up-to-date, along with programs that normally would fall behind due to user awareness.

Our tech team can and will make sure that your workstations servers and network equipment will have the latest firmware and software updates available.

Automate Computation
In today’s tech there are many ways to automate normally manual tasks. Such as automated password or online form completion.

Technology is designed to complete tasks for you while you sit back and save time and save money. Take advantage of a solution that is going to improve your everyday small business life on a colossal scale. Automation is domination in the computer world and should not be taken lightly.

Reduce Redundancy
Your data is a vital component to your business and it is very important that your data does not get overlooked.

When functioning in a business environment, the best practice is to not only have a backup of your data but prevent your data from being lost to begin with. This is when redundancy comes in.

Your server for your business should be monitored, verified, and managed by an IT professional. This will allow you to function throughout the day without worrying about your data being safe and secure, keep an increased outlook on productivity, and allow for a guaranteed solution for data retrieval.