How to Find Out How Many Bits Your OS Is

By Contributing Writer

A processor can be 32-bit or 64-bit depending on how the information is handled internally. An operating system can also be 32-bit or 64-bit depending on if it can use the 64-bit part of the processor. A 64-bit operating system can manage more RAM memory. In order to install a 64-bit operating system, you need a 64-bit processor. But a 32-bit operating system can be installed on a 32 or a 64-bit processor. OS X is the only consumer 64-bit operating system that does not have a 32-bit equivalent. Both Linux and Windows can be either 32-bit or 64-bit.

Windows

Step 1

Go to the lower-left corner and click on the “Start” menu. Go to “Control Panel."

Step 2

In the new window, scroll down and double click the “System” Icon.

Step 3

You can see if your operating system is 32 or 64 bit by looking at the “System Type” line in the new window.

Linux

Step 1

Open a terminal by clicking on the TV-like icon in your task bar. Both KDE and Gnome have a similar icon.

Step 2

In the terminal type ”uname –a” and press “Enter.”

Step 3

A string of information is displayed. If you have a 64-bit operating system, you will see x86_64 towards the end of that string. If you have a 32-bit operating system, you will see i386, i486, i586 or i686.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can run 32-bit program on a 64-bit operating system but you cannot run a 64-bit program on a 32-bit operating system.
  • If you are planning on using more than 4GB of RAM, you will need a 64-bit operating system as 32 bit will not detect the memory beyond 4GB.