How to Install External Memory

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Your computer's Random Access Memory (RAM) is used to temporarily read, write and transfer data. In other words, your RAM helps the computer process information. The more RAM you have, the quicker your computer is able to perform tasks. For a sluggish PC, more memory can boost performance. Installing internal memory upgrades is costly and time-consuming. However, you can use an external hard drive to add virtual memory to your computer. Virtual memory functions just like internal RAM, but it uses hard drive space to process extra data flow.

Things You'll Need

  • USB external hard drive
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Plug a USB external hard drive into your computer. Many external hard drives offer hundreds of gigabytes of storage, but you will only need a fraction of that. Avoid overpaying for a large-capacity hard drive unless you plan on using the extra space for storage rather than just memory.

  • Wait a moment while your computer automatically detects the hard drive and installs any necessary drivers. USB devices are typically plug-and-play compatible. This means that installing the device is completely automated, and you can use the hard drive right away after Windows detects it.

  • Click on the "Start" button once you notice a message in the lower right-hand corner of the screen saying that the USB hard drive is "ready to use."

  • Right-click on "Computer."

  • Click "Properties" from the list of options.

  • Write down the amount of internal memory currently installed on your computer--you will need to know this number later. This is found under the "System" heading next to the "Installed Memory" heading. The amount of memory number is typically given in gigabytes. When installing a hard drive for external memory, you can only add up to three times the amount of installed internal memory, according to Microsoft. For example, if your computer has 3 gigabytes of internal memory, your external virtual memory cannot exceed 9 gigabytes.

  • Click on "Advanced System Settings." This option is located near the top left-hand side of the Properties window. This will open a window labeled "System Properties."

  • Click on the "Advanced" tab at the top of the System Properties window.

  • Click on the "Settings" button underneath the "Performance" heading.

  • Click on the "Advanced" tab at the top of the Performance Options window.

  • Click "Change" under the "Virtual Memory" heading.

  • Click to uncheck the box labeled "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives."

  • Click on the external hard drive. It will be listed beneath your main "C" hard drive. The external drive is often labeled as drive "E," "F" or "G."

  • Click "Custom Size" while the external hard drive is still selected. Type in the number of megabytes you want to allocate for memory on the external drive. Remember, your RAM is given in gigabytes. One gigabyte of RAM is equal to 1,000 megabytes. Do not type a number greater than three times your internal RAM.

  • Click "OK" to confirm the changes to your virtual memory. Close all open windows. Your computer now has extra external memory for faster data processing.

References

  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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