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Does installing additional RAM increase the potential lifetime of a computer? For example, if approximately 100% of a computer's RAM is used on a daily basis, does this have a "wear and tear" effect on the lifetime of a computer? Would upgrading more RAM be less "stressful" on the computer (and therefore increase its lifespan) or is some other part of the computer just more likely to naturally fail after say 4-5 years of use (and so worrying about RAM isn't an issue)?

I'm wondering about this question to determine whether:

1) I should be more frugal in the amount of windows/apps I have running simultaneously (i.e., whether I should change my daily usage habits) so that my computer lasts for a longer time than it would potentially otherwise.

2) I should (in addition to changing my habits) invest in more RAM to increase potential lifespan of computer?

  • I doubt that increasing RAM would increase the lifespan of a computer in any noticeable way, unless you're using an SSD, that is. lifehacker.com/… – Rsya Studios Nov 25 '14 at 3:43
  • Do note that installing more RAM is known to reduce the amount of data written to SSDs, extending their usable life. tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-ram-endurance,3475.html – bwDraco Jan 22 '15 at 15:34
  • Installing more RAM can reduce the amount of swapping (as can reducing the size of your page file - I don't recommend reducing it to 0, though), but keep in mind that explicit disk writes will still eventually get written to disk, so if your workload is write-heavy, you won't get a lot of benefit. If your workload is very read-heavy, SSDs aren't worn out by reads anyway. – allquixotic Jan 22 '15 at 15:45
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No it will not increase your computer's lifespan.

If your computer is using all the RAM it has available, the only drawback is performance and maybe even crashes.

However, adding more RAM will enable your computer to store data it needs in RAM rather than the pagefile (stored on the slower HDD/SSD), thereby speeding up operations.

It has no direct or indirect effect on the computer's overall life.

By the way, a 'computer' is not a single component. It is a collection of components. Thus, there is no such thing as the "computer's lifespan" because you can always keep it running by replacing dead parts. :)

  • 4
    Unless it is a Mac. ;) – R Schultz Nov 25 '14 at 3:54
  • @RSchultz I'm actually using a Mac, does this advice pertain to it (or only Windows)? – warship Nov 25 '14 at 4:00
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    @warship No it does not, he was just joking. A MAC is still a computer, only running a different operating system. – code_flow Nov 25 '14 at 18:51
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While any pretty much every electrical device has a lifespan that is related to the amount of use it gets, You need not worry about your Ram dying first provided you are not overclocking the Ram. It is more likely that a hard drive or power supply will go first. The hard drive because the mechanical nature. The power supply is based on anectdotal evidence. In my 30+ years of computer usage, I have had numerous hard drives and a few power supplies go bad but never Ram after it was safely installed.

That said, more Ram can have beneficial performance effects that make it seem like new life depending on how much you have prior to upgrading. It is possible that more Ram will reduce pagefile accesses thus reducing the wear on your mechanical hard drive but I would not buy extra Ram with that intent. Hopefully this helps.

  • Could you please reiterate: does more RAM mean a lower probability of a hard drive failure in the future? When a user is using almost 100% of the RAM (as stated in the question), that would be considered overclocking, so perhaps more RAM does indeed mean longer lifespan? – warship Nov 25 '14 at 3:59
  • While I have not performed a study, If gou are running at 100%+ ram causing your page-file on the hard drive to constantly get swapped, I would say yes. the question is, Is it significant reduction in life? That I would say probably not. How old is the computer, how much ram does it have? These days, computers and Ram aree cheap enough that the extra time you might get is not significant. The performance is another thing though. – R Schultz Nov 25 '14 at 4:04
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    Using 100% Ram is not the same as overclocking. Overclocking is running at a faster clock rate thus the transistors switch faster using more energy. the energy is dissipated in the form if heat. I believe there have been studies that show excessively high temperatures reduce lifespan. – R Schultz Nov 25 '14 at 4:08
  • @RSchulz It's an early 2011 Macbook Pro, but running OS X Mavericks, which makes it very slow on the older hardware (3.99 GB out of 4 GB's used practically at all times). I'm thinking of upgrading to 8 GB's (maximal allowable on my Mac) to solve not only these performance issues, but also to extend potential lifespan. – warship Nov 25 '14 at 4:09
  • Not sure what your doing but it sounds like you have some stuff that is not playing nicely. I would get the Ram if its not to expensive for the performance boost. That and a solid state drive if you can afford it. You should also make sure there isnt any malware hiding in the weeds. I had a similar model and only got that high when runnung memory intensive simulations. – R Schultz Nov 25 '14 at 4:11

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