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Six months ago, your computer was state of the art. Now its performance is slow and frustrating. You don't want to abandon it all together in such a short time, so what to do?

Chances are very good that a simple memory (RAM or Random Access Memory) upgrade will improve your computer's performance enough to keep you happy for a while longer. This job is so simple that there is no need for you to take your computer to a repair shop for the upgrade: do it yourself!

First you will need to consult your computer's documentation to find out exactly what sort of RAM to buy. Most Pentium type PC's will need PC 100 compliant SDRAM. You will also need to decide how much memory to add. You must find out how many memory slots your computer has available. If your documentation doesn't tell you this, you can open up the computer and look. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Shut down your computer and disconnect all the hardware plugged into it. Be sure to unplug the computer as well.

2. Remove the cover from the computer. Usually, a Phillips head screwdriver is all that's required for this.

3. Locate the RAM slots in the computer. RAM is about 3 inches long and is fairly thin. Your computer documentation should show you where it's located.

4. Determine how many free slots you have. You cannot put in more RAM than you have slots for.

5. Reassemble the computer.

Once you have determined what kind of memory to buy, shop around online for a good price. Prices can vary dramatically so do some research, it will save you money. Be sure to shop with merchants that are well known or familiar to you.

To add the new RAM to your computer, follow these steps.

1. Shut down your computer and disconnect all the hardware plugged into it. Be sure to unplug the computer as well.

2. Remove the cover from the computer. Usually, a phillips head screwdriver is all that's required for this.

3. Locate the RAM slots in the computer.

4. To prevent damage to your computer from electrical static, you must ground yourself to the computer. Do this by touching an unpainted, metal portion of the computer, such as the power supply housing. To best prevent static damage, purchase a wrist strap that connects you to the unpainted metal. These are inexpensive and available at computer stores.

5. Your new RAM chip came in an anti-static bag. Remove the chip from the bag and taking care not to touch any of the pins, locate the slot you will be placing the chip in.

6. Hold the chip at a 45 degree angle to the slot. Tip the chip up so that it is perpendicular to the slot and the pins contact the holes they align with. The chip should now snap into place. Be careful not to use too much pressure as this will damage the pins and ruin the chip.

7. Reassemble your computer and boot it up. Windows 95 or higher will automatically configure the RAM for you. As you boot up, it should recognize and report the new RAM in the memory test.

Enjoy your new memory!