Laptop Memory – Deciding If a Memory Upgrade Is the Right Path to Take

The general word on the street aka “…you need more RAM! “

It is widely propagated by many that upgrading the memory within our laptop will considerably boost performance. While this statement is true, it leaves one wondering if the results are always the same. That is a common problem with generic statements like the above, just because it has made a friend’s laptop breathe a new sign of life, will it do exactly the same for me? The reality is that it may, or may not, and to what degree is really down to our own specific situation.

In that case is a laptop memory upgrade right for me?

While it is not possible to conclude whether upgrading your laptop’s memory will boost system performance by exactly 27%, 52% or for example 74%(all these figures are ballpark guesses) via any other method than running specific benchmarks after an upgrade, it is possible to take a more human approach and still arrive at a plausible degree of certainty. This will inform us how much of a benefit a future laptop memory upgrade might be. From this we can then decide whether it is worth the cost.

Setting a course for action – upgrading pragmatically

In order to arrive at a valid answer to the above we first must lay down some facts that will automatically prove helpful. First of all if we have an older laptop ( > 5 years old) and use it to run modern software then upgrading its memory may help but ultimately it’s processor speed and architecture will hamper from it having the most affect. In an opposite light, if we have a newer laptop ( < 2 years old) and also use it for running modern software then upgrading its memory will likely have a greater performance effect, however in this case the hard drive speed will equally become the bottleneck. In fact, even if you have a laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD) it too can be of an older generation that also becomes a bottleneck.

The above is what may be referred to as a basis for understanding the benefits of laptop memory upgrades. The processor, memory and hard drive are the three key contributors to general computer performance. Consequently, all influence the performance contributions of the other two (whatever the combination) and so ultimately model system performance in joint force. Does that make sense? Let’s take a quick look at each to show you how.

A hard drive is important because each time we start any software it must first load that into memory, as a result its speed will be the deciding factor to how soon the benefits of memory kick in (play an active role). A processor (also known as CPU – Central Processing Unit) plays a more central role – everything we do with our laptop will involve the processor in some form. If it is busy engaged in processing other tasks then even if we have ample memory, the benefits of the latter will be delayed until the processor can execute the foreground task (any that is part of the program we are currently using).

Making a decision focused on your own requirements

From the above we have learned that how much a new laptop memory upgrade contributes to our laptop’s performance is largely influenced by the processor and hard drive in our laptop, i.e. how modern they are and also how fast. With that in mind it is time to make an educated guess, but before we can do that we need to consider some other variables that stem from our current situation.

Firstly, we need to determine if we are running out of physical memory when using our laptop for everyday tasks. In order to check this, load all the software you normally use and then in Windows (NT/2000 or newer) press CTRL+ALT+DEL at the same time. This will fire up Task Manager. Next, click on the on the “Performance” tab. Finally, look at the section that states “Physical Memory (K)”, this name may defer slightly depending on the version of Windows you are running. In the same area you should see a label such as “Available”. This is the amount of free physical memory in your laptop. If this value is low in comparison to the “Total” label next to it then this indicates you are already overloading your laptop and purchasing a laptop memory upgrade could indeed help and inject a speed boost.

Secondly, ask yourself if your usage habits will change in the foreseeable future. For example, if you have just took on a job as a web developer and plan on using software such as Adobe Dreamweaver then your memory usage will grow dramatically. In this case you may want to upgrade. Let’s look at another example, this time you may be a graphics artist using equally demanding software such as Adobe Photoshop but with a difference. You may already have enough memory installed for what you do today, but what if you get a new request from a client to make a series of graphics and need to edit them concurrently (have them opened in separate windows)? Such scenario may also warrant upgrading your laptop’s memory. All in all whatever you do when thinking through this part make sure you also plan ahead.

Thirdly, identify the Operating System you are using, or intend to use (should you want to upgrade this too). This part will play a particular role especially in newer laptops that support over 4GB of memory. 32bit versions of Windows (NT, 2000, XP, Vista and 7) only support up to 4GB of memory in total. In reality however much less of this is made available, this is because other devices in the laptop (i.e. the graphics card) need their own memory address space and this needs to fall within the 4GB range of memory addresses. If you plan to upgrade to 4GB or more you need to be running a 64bit version of Windows XP, Vista o 7 as otherwise a vast chunk of the additional memory will not be usable by your software, if otherwise stay below 4GB in total. Older laptops that run Windows 98 or Me (both 16/32bit hybrid Operating Systems) have problems when more than 512MB of memory is installed (even if the memory controller supports it). Windows 95 based laptops are also problematic and realistically work best with up to 64MB memory (again, regardless if the memory controller supports more).

Now, gather and think through all the findings, these along with the knowledge learned above should enable you to make an expert guess and help you decide whether a laptop memory upgrade is indeed right for you.

In summary

Be sure to extract the fundamental truths from the above. Always remember that each time you hear “upgrading memory will boost your computer’s performance” (or any derivative of such statement) it is a generic deposition and therefore usually only valid to a specific use case (i.e. what the laptop is used for).

Furthermore, appreciate that the processor, memory and hard drive (or solid state drive) in your laptop are three key contributors to overall system performance and all influence each other’s potential. As a result, you need to take into account the age and speed of each when determining how much significance any further laptop memory upgrade will have to system performance. Finally, ask yourself some questions that expressly concern what you use your laptop for at present but also what you intend to use it for in the foreseeable future. At the same time, take into account your laptop’s Operating System remembering the limitations of older versions of Windows (95, 98 and Me) and that of 32bit versions of newer versions of Windows (NT, 2000, XP, Vista and 7).

Software Development Life Cycle and Testing

These five phases constitute the life cycle of a software project called the software development life cycle (SDLC).

The Five Phases of the SDLC:

Phase 1 – CONCEPTION: This phase starts as soon as someone, either a user or a member of the data processing department, recognizes a problem or opportunity that suggests a data processing solution.
The objective of this phase is to answer the following questions:

– What is the perceived problem (or opportunity)?
– What are the goals to be achieved by the solution?
– What benefits will result from achieving the solution?
– What will be the scope of the project?

These details may be recorded in an informal note or in a formal document. This document is called Project Request Form.

Phase2 – INITIATION: In this phase the analyst, working with the user, does a preliminary study of the user’s need. The information developed during this phase permits the organization to decide if it is worth spending money on the project.

The key information to be recorded consists of the following:

– Proposed system solution
– Alternative solutions considered
– Economic justification (Cost Benefit Analysis)
– Schedule of time and cost estimates for the completion of the project

This document is referred to as System Proposal.

Phase 3 – ANALYSIS: During this phase, the analyst and user come to a detailed agreement on the functions that the proposed system has to perform. A detailed document is prepared containing:

– Outputs to be produced
– Inputs that must be received
– Data to be retained
– Procedure to get the outputs from the given inputs
– Audit and control requirements: This specifies the features that are required to ensure that the user can monitor the system to check that it is working properly.

– System Acceptance Criteria: This lists the tests that the user would actually perform to check conformity with the previously agreed performance requirement and other specifications, before accepting the system.

This document is called Function Specifications. In addition to creating Function Specifications, the Cost Benefit Analysis prepared during the Initiation phase should be reviewed for accuracy. Similarly, the cost and time estimate should also be reviewed/revised.

Phase 4 – DESIGN: At this point, the emphasis changes from defining the user’s requirement to defining how the system will work. The documentation developed is technical. The design documentation should specify:

– Exactly how each input, output, operation, file and audit control requirement will be handled
– Acceptance test plan/schedule
– Facilities, equipment and personal required
– Manual procedure required to operate the system

This document is referred to as Design Specification. At this point again, the Cost Benefit Analysis and cost/time estimates are reviewed /revised.

Phase 5 – CONSTRUCTION: The last phase in the system development procedure includes three activities:

– Completing and testing computer programs and operating instructions for using the package (Run Manual, User Manual).
– Performing all tasks to carry out the conversion from the system currently in use to the new system.
– Conducting the final testing of the system to determine if it performs according to the acceptance criteria established during the Analysis phase.

Another essential activity for any system is the system evaluation. During system evaluation the performance of the system in a real life environment is assessed.

This is not considered a phase as:

– It may be several months before it is possible to take the first measurement of system effectiveness.
By this time the project development team might have been disbanded or moved to other projects.
– It is an ongoing activity. In fact, it should be regarded as a project in itself.
– The results of the system evaluation might indicate that the system has to be modified /re-developed.

Software Testing is the course of completing a program or system with the intention of finding errors. Or, it involves any activity aimed at appraising an attribute or capability of a program or system and determining that it meets its required results.

The testing process:
1. Create test plans.
The test plan documentation consists of two documents:
• Detailed test plan (DTP) document
• Detailed test case (DTC) document
2. Review the design.
The design review also helps in identifying the scenarios that must be tested for one or more of the following:
• Possible security attacks
• Performance optimizations
• Profiling to ensure that there are no memory leaks
3. Perform black box testing.
Black box testing includes the following:
• Testing all of the external interfaces for all possible usage scenario
• Ensuring that the interfaces meet the functional specifications and address all of the requirements testing for various types of input.
• Testing for various types of input.
• Performance testing
• Load testing.
• Stress testing
• Security testing

How You Can Get a Better Memory

Wouldn’t having a memory that performs in a fantastic way be just great? Imagine having the ability to remember where you placed your glasses, recall peoples’ names, memorize your homework or things needing to be done in your work place in the easiest way possible. Imagine how much time could be saved with an improved memory and all the stress and disappointment that could be avoided.

A better memory can of course be achieved and I’ve written this article to show you just how. Gaining an enhanced memory doesn’t occur magically. To get the positive well performing memory you’ve always wanted, you should set two goals in mind:

1. Learning the most effective memory improvement methods
2. Improving your brain health

To accomplish the goals mentioned above, it is suggested you take the actions stated below:

Most effective memory improvement methods:

1a It is suggested you use memory systems such as:

-Phonetic method (a system which can be used for the memorization of long numbers).
-Loci or journey method (a system which is used to link information to places or routes you’re already familiar with.)
-Face-name method (a system which is quite amazing as it enables one to remember names and faces of many people, all at the same time.)

To find other great memory system types you can learn how to use, try performing a search based on the key phrase “memory improvement system types” or “types of memory improvement systems”.

1b Make use of mnemonic devices as supplemental memory improvement techniques when you find suitable.

Improving your brain health

To improve the health of your brain, it is suggested you engage in:

-Meditating so you can improve your concentration

-The consumption of supplements and vitamins (for the improvement of your brain health)

-The inclusion of memory improvement related exercises into your every day life

-Playing brain games in order for your brain skills to get strengthened

-Obtaining plenty of sleep in order to strengthen your memories

-The performance of intense cardio exercises to enhance the health of your brain cells

– The eating/ drinking of brain foods such as fatty fish, grape juice, green tea, apples, avocados, barley and so on…

The best memory improvement techniques according to conducted research, are memory systems that are based on visualization and association methods. How well they can work can be quite impressive. As a piece of advice to you, learning how to use memory systems is highly recommended!

Getting a superb memory in the same way you would be able to get a better car or a new pair of shoes cannot be possible. Your brain cannot be exchanged for one that is better. It is the same as getting a body that is better. In order to become stronger, it is required that you perform some exercise. To lose weight you would need to eat food that is better in quality and also reduce the quantity of the food you eat. To get an immune system that is stronger, you would need to consume both foods that are healthy and vitamins.

To get a body that is better would mean to change your habits into ones that are not only new but also better. You would need to do the same to obtain a better memory as you are in need of forming of habits that enable your brain to perform in a satisfactory way. The way you learn new information would also need to be changed.

In order to improve your memory, you need to develop new permanent habits and to be able to succeed in doing so, you need to be committed. Whether you are prepared to do all it takes to transform your memory into a great one is a decision you’d need to make.

Are you motivated and persistent?

You’d like to have a better memory but the question is how badly would you like to have it? Is your motivation strong enough?

If you were to only partly engage in playing memory-boosting games, for example play only once a month then you wouldn’t be able to improve your memory this way. Neither would getting proper sleep one night out of seven be good enough. For your memory to really improve, you’d need to make efforts every day.

If you want a stronger body, you need to exercise many times a week for several years because if you dont, your body will become weak and your muscles will start shrinking.

To strengthen your memory, it takes implementing your new behaviours (which are good for remembering things) continuously, this means every day and creating the best environment for your brain.

Is forgetting a normal thing?

The answer is yes. The most clever people even don’t always recall everything. Forgetfulness protects the brain from getting over loaded with details that aren’t important. The idea of forgetting being not normal is a myth. As a matter of fact there many other memory-related myths people have assumed to be true.

There are people who forget a lot. Remembering things like an important meeting or certain details for your exam are important though and need to be remembered. The reason why people forget is because they face difficulties while trying to recollect things from their memory.

The information is available, but they cannot find it because they seem to be missing the clue. However, it is fortunate that there are ways in which clues can be created by you if you want to recall something.

So are you ready to start improving your memory? Visit my site to find out more about how to improve your memory!