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Windows 7: Questions Concerning Upgrading RAM and Hard Drive


11 Sep 2012   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 
Questions Concerning Upgrading RAM and Hard Drive

The original hard drive that came with my Dell Studio XPS 8100 crapped out and I installed a new one just this spring. Now that hard drive has also bit the dust. I was advised to upgrade my RAM and I have a few questions concerning that.

I get that RAM is like "hands". The more "hands" you have, the quicker tasks are completed, programs are opened, etc etc. Does having more RAM also help the hard drive last longer? I was told that the more RAM installed, the easier the tasks are done by the hard drive, thus less strain. Is this true?

Also, since I have to purchase a new hard drive and re-install everything, should I wait until after it's all done before slipping in a new stick? Does it matter what slot out of the 4 it goes into? Are there any specific requirements/recommendations that you might advice me to take?

I really appreciate all the help and advice you send this way! Thank you for your time and patience with my newbie questions.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Sep 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

See comments in bold:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Seraphyn View Post
The original hard drive that came with my Dell Studio XPS 8100 crapped out and I installed a new one just this spring. Now that hard drive has also bit the dust. I was advised to upgrade my RAM and I have a few questions concerning that.

I get that RAM is like "hands". The more "hands" you have, the quicker tasks are completed, programs are opened, etc etc. Does having more RAM also help the hard drive last longer? I was told that the more RAM installed, the easier the tasks are done by the hard drive, thus less strain. Is this true?

I wouldn't think it would have any measurable effect on hard drive life. You just had bad luck. RAM is much faster than a hard drive and that's why you see improved performance, within reason. RAM doesn't perform miracles. If you are not using all that you now have, putting more in isn't going to help. Your CPU horsepower is also a major factor in overall performance.


You have 8 GB of RAM now. I don't know what you do on your PC, but 8 is plenty for well over 90% of all people. The chances of you needing more is small. I've got 4 GB and have never used it all.



Also, since I have to purchase a new hard drive and re-install everything, should I wait until after it's all done before slipping in a new stick? Does it matter what slot out of the 4 it goes into? Are there any specific requirements/recommendations that you might advice me to take?

You can install RAM before or after the hard drive. The location does matter, depending on motherboard. Typically, you will have RAM slots of 2 different colors and should use all of one color, all of the other color, or all of both----as opposed to one stick in color A and another stick in color B. Most likely, you have 4 RAM slots, with a total of 2 colors.

We would need to know your motherboard to get more specific. If I were you, I would confirm that all of the existing RAM is being used frequently (through Performance Monitor) and if it is, go to Crucial.com and have their very handy tool "sniff" your PC and recommend the type of RAM you need. You should not just go down to Best Buy and buy any old RAM.


I really appreciate all the help and advice you send this way! Thank you for your time and patience with my newbie questions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #3

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

RAM is more like a table, the bigger it is, the more stuff you can keep on it to work with. But past a certain point it's so ridicolously big that you become the bottleneck, as you cannot really work with more than X stuff on the table at the same time.

Most people do fine with 4 gb, from 8 gb to infinity you'll likely not notice the difference even when gaming. Assuming your specs in the panel are correct, you have already 8 gb.


Now, since you have to buy a new HDD and everyone here will say that you don't need more RAM so you'll have extra cash, and you likely want something faster and less failure-prone than your older ones, what about buying a SSD? (solid state drive)
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12 Sep 2012   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Wow, your hard drive certainly didn't last very long. Most hard drives come with a 1 year warranty, some even longer. You should check on it to see if you have any recourse.

But as bobafett suggested, if you have to go with a new one, consider an SSD or SSD+HD hybrid. While it has only been this past year that they finally became "affordable", the technology has been ramping up rather quickly. If you want a large drive, SSD will be too expensive. But if you can get by with 256Gb or less, SSD is an affordable choice. The speed differences are significant, so much so that standard magnetic media HD's will be going by the way of the floppy drive in less than 3 years (my prediction).
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12 Sep 2012   #5

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

Does ram change the way your hard drive has to work? Yes. The more ram you have means the system will use your ram instead of accessing your hard drive for some operations. That being said, your 8 gigs of ram should be more than enough than most people will use or need. I seriously dough add more ram to your system will extend the life of your hard drive. Proper mounting and to some extent proper cooling would be my concern. I think you had bad luck with your hard drives. Wish you good luck with your new hard drive. Go to Resource Monitor and get this type of picture. Hold your cursor over each color square and it will give you information about that ram be used.

Questions Concerning Upgrading RAM and Hard Drive-resource-monitor-ram.png


My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2012   #6

Black Label 7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bobafetthotmail View Post
RAM is more like a table, the bigger it is, the more stuff you can keep on it to work with. But past a certain point it's so ridicolously big that you become the bottleneck, as you cannot really work with more than X stuff on the table at the same time.
That is the best analogy I've ever seen about RAM.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2012   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Thanks for all your comments! I honestly have never heard of SSD and never knew that it was an option. I do have fears about how even though SSDs have no moving parts to wear and fail, they can only be erased and written a limited number of times before it fails. Also how data loss can be attributed to firmware bugs. I'll need to delve further into it, and possibly ask even more questions.

Also, thank you for clearing up the issue about RAM. I figured with 8 GB, that would have been enough even with my computer gaming and my husband's constant music and movie downloading/watching, so when I was told I needed more RAM, it threw me for a loop.

Other then asking what everyone's preference is when it comes to hard drives and SSDs, I can't really think of any other way to answer my questions, so once again, thank you very much!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2012   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Seraphyn View Post
I do have fears about how even though SSDs have no moving parts to wear and fail, they can only be erased and written a limited number of times before it fails.
That's also true of HDDs.

The fear of overwriting thing seems to have been exaggerated, particularly for recent generation drives.

I've written over 2 TB to my SSD in 19 months. My Intel Toolbox for the SSD still says 100% for "estimated life remaining".

Re brands: the current SSD favorites are Samsung, Intel, and Crucial. For HDDs, probably Western Digital and Samsung.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2012   #9

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1
 
 

I have a Intel 510 and I don't worry about writes because Intel doesn't. It's warranty is for 5 years no matter how many wrights. I'm also still at 100% life remaining.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2012   #10

Black Label 7 x64
 
 

Tom's does this once a month for all kinds of components:
Best SSDs for the money - August 2012

I've got a couple SSDs and a couple HDDs in my machine for a fastness/bigness mixture. Don't worry about SSDs conking out on you prematurely - just google "ssd longevity" and you'll find more than enough information about this.
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