Posted by & filed under Business, IT Purchasing, IT Support.

Ensuring you have the right amount of memory (RAM as it tends to be called in computer terms – Random Access Memory) in a PC is essential to ensure its smooth operation, maximising the user’s time and minimising frustration.

One of the problems we constantly come across with customers is that the information generally available to businesses regarding memory requirements is inaccurate or misleading and results in most business PCs being woefully under-specified, leading to wasted user time and frustration.

Remember a worker on only £12,000 per year losing only 15 minutes a day due to poor performance of a PC is costing the company over £400 per year whereas 1Gb of RAM typically costs about £40+VAT.

The problem is that most web sites provide minimum requirements for certain operating systems but they don’t account for the real world where a typical user will have a number of applications open at the same time (e.g. a few pages on a Browser, a Word document and a spreadsheet). Each of these applications users further memory and if the PC doesn’t have enough then the information has to be put somewhere else, so it uses the hard disk which massively slows down operations as a hard disk reads and writes data significantly slower than RAM.

Here’s The PC Support Group’s guide to typical RAM requirements for business PCs.

Windows XP
When Windows XP came out, Microsoft quoted 128Mb as the recommended minimum. At the time that was barely adequate, but with all the updates and add-ons over time, it is now impossible to run with this amount of RAM

Just for the XP to operate smoothly and effectively we would recommend 512Mb but to accommodate any application use (which of course everyone requires) we would suggest an additional 512Mb giving an absolute minimum for a business PC running XP of 1Gb. Given the relatively low cost of RAM and the importance of users not being slowed down we would suggest that ideally this should be 2Gb if the rest of the system is well enough spec’d for reasonable performance.

Windows Vista
Yet again Microsoft’s minimum requirements for Windows Vista of 512Mb appear to be inadequate in the real world and more realistically the requirement for Vista Home Premium, Business and Ultimate is quadruple this (2Gb).

Windows 7
The good news is that one of the improvements with Windows 7 over Vista is that it is a bit more “lean and mean” and so doesn’t require any more RAM than its predecessor.

The argument for not having the right memory in every PC in a business simply doesn’t add up. Even very small businesses could save thousands every year by investing just a few hundred pounds.