How to Install RAM

By Techwalla Computers Editor

If your computer slows down when you're working with large files or many programs at once, you might be able to improve performance by installing extra RAM (Random Access Memory - your computer's temporary operating memory). These instructions will work for the majority of machines built in the mid 1990s and later.

Things You'll Need

  • RAM
  • Anti-static Wrist Band
  • Surge Protectors

Step 1

Determine what kind of RAM you need, and whether your computer has enough open slots to hold it. The new RAM should match the existing RAM's specifications and configuration.

Step 2

Shut down the computer and leave it plugged into the surge suppressor.

Step 3

Disconnect all peripheral devices, such as the monitor, from the computer.

Step 4

Remove the computer cover.

Step 5

Ground yourself to the computer with professional grounding equipment like an anti-static wristband or hold a metal part of the chassis.

Step 6

Remove any cards or internal components necessary to give yourself unobstructed access to RAM sockets.

Step 7

Pick up your SIMM (single in-line memory module) or DIMM (dual in-line memory module) by the ends without touching pins or chips.

Step 8

If adding a SIMM, find the notched end and turn the SIMM so that it is parallel to the existing RAM card(s). Insert the SIMM into the socket at a 30-degree angle. If adding a DIMM, insert the DIMM straight in so that it is perpendicular to the motherboard.

Step 9

Use slight pressure to keep a SIMM from backing out while rotating the module to an upright position perpendicular to the motherboard.

Step 10

Make sure the small holes on each side of a SIMM fit into holders.

Step 11

Feel or hear retaining clips lock a SIMM into the socket; close the side clips on a DIMM.

Step 12

Gently try to pull the module out to ensure it is locked in position.

Step 13

Replace all internal components.

Step 14

Leave the cover off and reconnect the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Step 15

Turn on the computer.

Step 16

Check the amount of RAM by right-clicking the My Computer icon in Windows and choosing Properties. On a Mac, use the About this Macintosh command in the Apple menu.

Step 17

If you don't see the right amount of RAM, turn off the computer and try "reseating" the SIMM or DIMM (take it out and put is back in) and reboot. If that doesn't work, call a technician.

Step 18

Shut down the computer and disconnect the peripherals again.

Step 19

Replace the cover and reconnect all the peripherals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your computer will accept either SIMMs or DIMMs. Check your manual to find out which.
  • If you have an older machine, you may need to adjust DIP switches or jumpers. Consult your manual.
  • Label any cards or internal components that you remove in order to access RAM sockets - this will ensure that you replace them in their proper places.
  • Stand on uncarpeted flooring to reduce static electricity. Touch as little as possible inside your machine and especially avoid touching any computer chips. Static damage, and even oil from fingertips, may cause a failure months later.
  • Some recent stub-chassis computers built by Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and others have little or no work space inside. Some units require removing the hard drive and power supply to access the RAM. Do not attempt to do this yourself.
  • If your computer is under manufacturer's warranty, modifying the product usually invalidates that warranty.