Cheap Upgrades for a Faster Laptop (Part 2)
How To RAMp Up Your Laptop
I don’t remember. I sat through so many chapel messages during 4+ years of seminary. My lack of memory says more about me than it does about chapel, seminary or the wonderful teachers who stood behind the lectern. The fact I remember any is cause for reflection. The fact it comes to mind when I am writing an article to help you put RAM in your laptop borders on the miraculous.
Chapel occupies the “brunch” hour in your seminary block schedule. Instead of English tea and toast with jam, you dine on great teaching. The speaker on this particular morning was a well-known master of illustration and alliteration—the kind whose reputation draws a larger crowd than usual. For reasons beyond my comprehension, I remember in vivid detail one such masterful illustration. The text was Revelation 2:1–7. I will paraphrase (sadly, minus the compelling delivery)…
“You take the exit ramp of repentance. Come across the overpass of remembrance. And then take the onramp of returning to your first love.”
While I doubt this article will rise to the level of ‘1 out of the 5 most influential chapel messages recalled from four years of post-grad’, a RAMp up of RAM in your sluggish laptop could earn me a spot among your favorites for an hour or so. At least, until Keller or Piper releases another insightful article.
Church planters face many challenges. They are part of the journey. One common reality is a slow laptop, a stealth budget and the high cost of a replacement (of your laptop, not you). You can feel stuck. This is a way to get unstuck. An upgrade in RAM, when paired with a needy computer, can be the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to get the most out of your laptop. This is the machine we find ourselves married to for the bulk of each workday. So an attainable upgrade is good news.
In the words of Nacho Libre—who never spoke at chapel—“Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.”
A cRAM of the Previous Article
In the previous installment, we pointed out what causes slow performance in our laptop as it relates to RAM. If you recall, we made the analogy that your computer’s HD is the file cabinet and your computer’s RAM is your desk. The larger your desk, the fewer times you have to return to your filing cabinet because you can spread more files across a larger desk at once. Next we identified several symptoms to look for in order to diagnose whether your laptop is a candidate. We ended with a quick tip that cost no time and no money. The tip? Quit the applications you do not need for the current task. You don’t need nine music apps running when you can only listen to one at a time.
How You Can Upgrade Your RAM
I said it before, and I will say it again. A RAM upgrade does not necessitate the hands of a surgeon nor the mind of a rocket scientist. So here is your chance to live the life of your dreams: Geek Squad. Before you follow these simple instructions, pull a pen out of your pocket protector and note the following:
- RAM comes in “sticks.” You can have a 2GB stick of RAM, or a 4GB stick, etc. (You will find 2, 4, 8 or 16GB options)
- Laptops have “memory slots” that hold those sticks of RAM. The norm is to have two slots.
- Laptops support a certain maximum amount of RAM. IE A fairly new laptop with two slots usually supports up to 16GB of RAM. This means the maximum RAM you could install is two 8GB sticks of RAM for a grand total of 16GB of RAM.
Not to worry, we will get some help with this below.
Check Your Current RAM
You need to determine how much RAM your laptop currently has. You also want to know how much it can support. Now take what you know from a Netflix binge or two—namely, that in every movie or TV drama featuring a prison, people take care of our own (if you know what I’m saying). In this case, geeks take care of other geeks…and these are now your “people.” So say ‘hello’ to your new geek compadres over at Crucial, because they made you a killer tool that tells you exactly what you need when it comes to RAM.
- Go to Crucial: Memory Scanner.
- Download their System Scanner.
- Unzip the System Scanner app and run it.
Crucial’s System Scanner will inform you of what you have, and what your options are for a RAM upgrade. For the record, you could purchase RAM from other manufacturers, but I have always been pleased with Crucial’s quality and simplicity.
Purchase Your RAM
Assuming you followed the above steps, you can purchase your RAM right there from the Crucial website. If you are a bargain hunter, you can copy the long model number of the recommended Crucial RAM and head over to Amazon. Here is an example of how I did this for my recent upgrade.
How To Get A Better Deal from Amazon
- Copy the “Part #” of your Crucial RAM (it should look something like ‘part #: CT25664BA160BA’).
- Head to Amazon.com.
- Paste the Part # you copied into the search bar and hit return (or the magnifying glass).
- Find the same model number from the results (be careful to ensure you get the same model #).
- Buy your RAM from Amazon and save some dough.
I bought my Crucial RAM from Amazon because I saved money, I got it in 2 days thanks to Prime and Amazon makes returns easy (more about this below).
Prepare for Installation
After purchase, your RAM is beamed from satellites flung in the sky and reconstituted in a subterranean chamber on the outskirts of the nearest densely populated city. It is then transported by drone to your location. After a retinal scan, your RAM is released to you in an unmarked white styrofoam box on dry ice. In the mean time, you can gather a few tools you will need for installation. (For the record, this is not exactly how the RAM gets delivered, but it probably feels that way if this is your first time tackling a DIY computer issue.)
- Check the screws on your laptop and make sure you have a non-magnetic tip screwdriver that will work. This is often a small Phillips-head screwdriver. Run to Home Depot if you do not have what you need.
- Get a small plastic cup to serve as the temporary holding bin for these tiny screws. You will want it when you end up removing them. Otherwise, you may find yourself reenacting a modern version of one of the parables from Luke 15: The Parable of the Lost Laptop Screw. NOT fun.
Install Your RAM
When your RAM arrives, one of two things will happen. On the day of the scheduled delivery, you will A.) wake up with cold sweats, thinking ‘what have I done?’; or B.) run to the door when the brown UPS truck comes barreling down the street in anticipation. Either of these reactions is normal and depends upon your wiring. Those prone to self-doubt or techno-intimidation will fall in category A. Those with a penchant for adventure and the thrill of the fight will plant their flag in category B. Regardless of where you land, there is a way forward young Jedi.
TIP: Keep your old RAM sticks safe and handy until you test your new RAM.
- Head back to our friends at Crucial for a DIY Memory installation video
- Watch the 3-minute video and follow along.
Spoiler: Here are the simple steps outlined in the video.
- Shut down and then close your laptop.
- Place your laptop on a soft cloth for protection. (A towel is fine.)
- Flip your laptop over so the bottom is facing you.
- Using a non-magnetic tip Phillips-head screwdriver (or the one matching your screws), unscrew the screws that keep the back cover fastened. Remove the back cover. Put the screws in your plastic cup.
- Touch something metal on the inside of your laptop to release any static electricity. RAM and static do NOT play well together.
- Locate the RAM slots. They will be holding sticks of RAM that look like the ones you ordered.
- Push the levers holding the existing RAM in an outward direction to release each stick.
- Remove each stick gently.
- Place your new RAM into the empty slots. The gold contact strip on the RAM will face inward. Gently push the RAM in place and listen for a click.
- If you feel confident, replace the bottom cover and power up your computer. If you are unsure, replace the bottom cover and only screw in a few of the screws. If it worked, turn it back over and replace all the screws. If something went awry, power down and easily remove the back. Ensure you inserted each stick all the way.
Check Your RAM Installation
You want to double-check your RAM to ensure it is working properly. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to get a bad RAM stick. On one of my recent upgrades, I noticed some crazy activity on my laptop after my upgrade. I ran a simple test and saw an error. I replaced my new RAM with my old RAM, returned my new RAM to Amazon and got a replacement in two days. No problems. Here is how you check your RAM:
If you need more help, I’ve got you covered. I put together a list of free web resources for you. The single-page PDF includes links to a few great How-To articles, How-To guides, and Support articles. Grab your copy here. In addition, if you grab the resource and still have questions, shoot me an email and I will see if I can help.
There is another common culprit that zaps speed and performance from your laptop. We will look at it next time.