How to Install Computer Memory

Believe it or not, memory is one of the easiest things to upgrade in your computer. But, as with all computer parts, you have to be careful not to do something wrong. The first step, of course, is buying the memory you are putting in. I will assume in this guide that you have already purchased the memory you want to install. If you haven’t, make sure you get the right type of memory (such as DDR, DDR2, etc.) or it won’t fit in the slot. Also keep in mind that you have a limited number of slots available, and if all of them are full you’ll have to take an old one out to put a new one in. Take this into account when you decide how much you want to add.

So let’s begin. Before I forget, turn off the computer; not doing so could damage components beyond repair. You shouldn’t need any tools other than a screwdriver that can open up the side of your case (some cases don’t even need a screwdriver). Open the side panel of your case (if both are removeable, take out the left one). You’ll need some space to work, so if you can’t see anything through the cable clutter you’ll have to remove cables and put them back when you are done. Make sure you remember how everything plugs in so you don’t mess anything up.

Inside the computer you’ll see a large board on the right wall of the case. This is the motherboard. At the top of the motherboard you will see the fan and heatsink that cover the CPU. To the right side of this you will see four long, thin slots with clips at both ends. These are the memory slots, and depending on your motherboard, you will probably have between two and four of these slots.

If you have to first remove modules to make room for your new ones, do this by pushing the clips that hold it in place outward, and the module will pop up. Pull it out slowly (it’s okay to use a little force, but if it’s not coming out fairly easily check the clips). Repeat until you have as many free slots as you need to install your new memory. (Note that your modules might be different sizes. If you are trying to take one specific one out, you might have to take them all out and determine, usually from a sticker on the module, what size they are. If all else fails, just keep switching them around until your operating system sees the right amount of memory.)

Now you put in your new modules. Look at the slot on the motherboard, and note the way the contacts go in. There should be two thin gaps running down the slot, separated by a bit of plastic. Make sure the separator on the slot corresponds with the space between the two sets of contacts on your memory, or the module won’t go in. Then carefully align the module along the slot and push in; when it goes in far enough, the clips will move inward by themselves and lock the module in place. I’ve found that it works better if you push in one side first until it locks, then line up the other side and push in. No matter how you do it, it’s imporant that you don’t force it in. If it doesn’t want to go in, make sure you have the separator aligned with the gap in the module; otherwise turn it around. If it doesn’t match up either way, you bought the wrong memory, and forcing it in will damage not only the memory but the motherboard as well.

If you did everything correctly, you should be able to boot your computer, and it should display the correct memory size in your BIOS setup utility. There are no drivers to install; your computer will immediately begin using your new memory.

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