Note by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida
Recent Note: This is an old note about a laptop computer that I no longer use. I suspect adding RAM to newer models is still possible, but I have not tried to do it.
If you have an old laptop that is slower than molasses, you can easily speed it up by replacing the RAM. I have six computers in my office and I keep them all because each one allows me to do things that the others cannot do, e.g., use programs downloaded that I can't move to a newer machine, read old 5.25 and 3.5 floppy disks, zip disks etc. So I found this tip from PCWorld* to be very useful.
How to add RAM to an Old Laptop
Turn the computer off, flip it over and remove the battery. You will need a small screwdriver. A little screwdriver used for screws in eye glasses works well. Then remove the panel where the RAM modules are located. There may be more than one panel, so keep looking until you find one or more small modules. Most laptops have two sockets. If only one socket is occupied, buy a module that matches the one that is there to double your system's RAM. (Note: Push the little springs back on each side of the module and it will pop up. Slide the new module in, push it down and it should snap right in.) There should be a label on each module to indicate the amount of RAM it has. For example, I found two 256MB modules in my five year old Sony.
If both sockets are filled, as in my case, you will need to replace both of
them according to Rick Broida.* I replaced my Sony's 256MB modules with two
512MB modules. According to a geek at Best Buy that is the maximum RAM my old
Sony would allow. I found the 512MB modules at Staples. It's still not real
fast, but I doubled the RAM from 1/2GB to 1GB and it performs much better.
* Broida, R. 2010. Laptop tips: Add RAM.... PCWorld (November): 116.