How to Install Notebook Memory

Installing notebook memory can improve the performance of your computer. Luckily, adding notebook memory is one of the simplest computer upgrades you can undertake. Notebook memory comes in modules called SO-DIMM (Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module). SO-DIMM modules are similar to those used in full-sized PCs, but come in a smaller form factor.

A word of caution before you begin adding notebook memory: some manufacturers make it simple to add more notebook computer memory, while others make it nearly impossible for home users. Cracking open the shell on your notebook could void the warranty, and there are lots of tiny components in there that are easy to break. If you're not comfortable with electronics, or if it looks difficult to install notebook memory, have your memory installed by a professional.

Taking Inventory of Your Notebook Memory
Before you can install memory in your notebook, you'll need to gather some information. From your manual, you'll need to know the type of memory your notebook uses (SDRAM or DDR-SDRAM), the memory speed required and the maximum memory capacity of your notebook.

You'll also need to know the current amount of memory in your notebook. The easiest way to get this information is to check the Systems Properties dialog box. To do this in Windows XP, click the start button and then select My Computer, View System Information. The amount of memory will be listed in the General tab of the dialog box. Another way to get this information is with a third-party program. System Information for Windows ( is a free application that quickly gives you an inventory of your computer's hardware.

Once you've gathered this information, you can purchase the appropriate memory modules.

Tips for Installing Notebook Memory
Follow these tips to avoid problems:

  • Unplug. Power the computer down and disconnect all of the attached cords.
  • Avoid static. Once you've started working on your computer, stay at the task-moving around can generate damaging static electricity. Ground yourself by touching a metal surface that's away from your computer to discharge any static electricity.
  • Keep track. Small fasteners and screws are easily misplaced. Be sure to keep track of all parts so that you can put your computer back together again.

Installing Notebook Memory

  • Open the memory panel. Notebooks have several access panels. You'll need to find the one that covers your memory modules. Your manual will have this information, but most notebooks also have graphic labels on the panels to describe what's behind them.
  • Remove the existing memory for your notebook. If you have an empty slot, you can skip this step. Otherwise, release the memory module's side locks with your fingers. The memory module will pop-up at a 45-degree angle. Remove the module by pulling up and out.
  • Install the new module. Remove the new module from its anti-static bag, holding it by the sides. The edge with the gold pins will have a notch in it. Line this notch up with the matching key in the memory module slot. Gently but firmly press the memory module into the slot until it is firmly seated. Now, press the module down until you hear the click of the module locking into place.
  • Testing, 1-2-3. Before you close up the computer, power it up and check the amount of reported memory. If the new memory modules are not being reported, check to see if they are properly installed. They may not have been seated correctly. Once you get a proper reading, close the notebook panel making sure all fasteners are returned properly.
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