SOMETIMES IT’S CRUCIAL

Crucial Memory

A couple guys from Crucial stopped by and we talked over memories. This wasn’t memories about us — we never saw them before — but the memories in computers.

Crucial is one of the two leading vendors of memory chips; the other is Kingston. What lots of memory does for your computer is make it run faster and cleaner. We have said this before, but it’s definitely worth saying again: Adding memory is the cheapest thing you can do to improve your computer’s performance.

But how do you know what memory chips to add? Are there are a lot of possibilities? Answer: You bet. How about a quarter of a million!

The two guys from Crucial one of them a tester told us there are about 50,000 different computer systems out there. These are not different brands, but various models and designs — different mother boards, processors, input/output systems, etc. What’s a user to do? Well, once again, you go to the web.

The Crucial.com website has a “Memory Advisor Tool.” Click it to begin. It’s not perfect, but it really cuts down on errors; their return rate on memory products is around one percent.

We have an old desktop machine that didn’t appear on their list, so we used the option to chat with an agent online. He gave us a link to a two gigabyte upgrade kit that was right for our machines. The cost to upgrade our five-year-old Compaq Presario was only $35. For the nine-year-old HP Pavilion the price was $92 The higher cost for the HP was because of its age; chips that match up with old computers cost more.

Most people get a new computer every four years, according to Crucial’s research. We have new laptops but have kept our old desktops. That’s because unless your speed requirement is very high someone working with movie editing, animation or huge databases, for instance, there is seldom a need to get a new computer; it’s bad for the environment and a waste of money, just add memory.

Digital memory is very cheap these days. For laptops, installation is as easy as sliding in the memory module. For desktops, plug the memory sticks into slots on the computer’s motherboard. Of course you have to take the case off a desktop computer to do this, and that scares some people away from the task, but there’s nothing dangerous about it if the computer is unplugged. To see how easy installing memory is, check out the tutorials at crucial.com/support/video.

We saw a huge speed improvement when we upgraded our old HP system from one to three gigabytes of RAM a few years ago. Another happy camper commented about her upgrade on the Crucial website and said that before that, it was constantly freezing, or crashing. The additional memory doesn’t just help everything run faster, it also lets you have several programs open at once, and boom, each one responds immediately.

By the way, Crucial is sponsoring a contest to find the owner and computer with the oldest relationship. If yours is older than nine years, you beat us. The prize is a new ASUS Eee Multi-touch Tablet PC tablet. To enter, go to crucial.com/research. If we win, we will donate our prize to a school or other worthy user.

A CURIOUS ASIDE: Crucial computer is owned by Micron, America’s largest maker of memory chips. Not surprisingly, that lets them get their supply at low cost. Micron was founded and financed by the late J.R. Simplot, who died just a few years ago. Simplot was an Idaho potato farmer who became wealthy supplying French fries to McDonald’s. So if you ever went into a McDonald’s and ordered fries, you helped improve computers’ memories.

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