Frequently Asked Questions and Support
1. How will upgrading the RAM in my computer affect system performance?
2. What is the difference between name brand and generic memory modules?
3. How much RAM do I need for my computer?
4. Once I receive the RAM, how do I install in my computer?
5. Should I upgrade the memory in my computer or buy a new system altogether?
6. Why should I buy my memory upgrades from Rocky Mountain Ram?
7. What is flash memory?
8. I've heard all these terms when people talk about memory such as SDRAM, DDR, Rambus, SODIMM, PC100. What do they mean?
9. Hard Drive formatting: When should I use FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS?
10. How do I format my Rocky Mountain RAM Hard Drive for Time Machine compatibility (for an Apple/Mac computer)?
Upgrading the system memory is one of the ways to make a computer perform a little bit better. Think of it as a piece of paper you use as a scratch when you are doing math problems. The bigger the paper is, the more space you can work on for your computation.
Name brand memory simply means that a recognizable memory manufacturer like, Kingston, Samsung, Micron, etc. built the memory. The smaller and lesser-known memory manufacturers on the other hand build generic brand modules. One important thing to know here is that, memory modules are built to a certain standard outlined by a governing body called JEDEC. Having said that, if a memory module is built by Kingston or a third party you can be assured that they are both built according to JEDEC standards.
This is a very difficult question to answer because it is affected by a lot of factors. Like, Do you do a lot of graphic work? Are you a gamer? Do you do a lot of mathematical simulations? Do you spend a lot of time on the Internet? Do you have a lot of money to spend? If you answered yes to any of this questions then you need as much memory you can afford or as much memory your computer can take.
If you are technically savvy enough to upgrade your computer then you should consult your manual on how to install the memory. If you are unable to program your own VCR then I would suggest asking for the help of a knowledgeable friend or taking your computer to a computer shop and have them install it for you.
If there is still room to upgrade your memory then I suggest you try that first before buying a new computer. If after upgrading your memory to its maximum and you are still not satisfied with the increase in performance, then consider the alternative of upgrading the CPU, if possible, or buy a new computer.
Rocky Mountain Ram has been in the memory business for more than ten years and we have built a reputation rivaling the best in the industry. All of our memory are built according to JEDEC standards and undergo rigorous testing to assure high quality products. We also have a 24-hour turn around replacement policy for our customers who needs their memory yesterday.
Flash memory is a nonvolatile (retains information even when the power is removed), solid-state (no moving parts like a hard drive) memory. Flash memories are being used in digital cameras, game consoles, cell phones, handhelds, and etc. due to its durability, high-speed data rate of transfer and low voltage requirements.
SDRAM, DDR and Rambus are some of the different types of memory according to the type of technology. SODIMM is the type of memory module according to its physical dimension.
To NTFS or not to NTFS—that is the question. But unlike the deeper questions of life, this one isn't really all that hard to answer. For most users running Windows XP, NTFS is the obvious choice. It's more powerful and offers security advantages not found in the other file systems. But let's go over the differences among the files systems so we're all clear about the choice. There are essentially three different file systems available in Windows XP: FAT16, short for File Allocation Table, FAT32, and NTFS, short for NT File System.
The FAT16 file system was introduced way back with MS–DOS in 1981, and it's showing its age. It was designed originally to handle files on a floppy drive, and has had minor modifications over the years so it can handle hard disks, and even file names longer than the original limitation of 8.3 characters, but it's still the lowest common denominator. The biggest advantage of FAT16 is that it is compatible across a wide variety of operating systems, including Windows 95/98/Me, OS/2, Linux, and some versions of UNIX. The biggest problem of FAT16 is that it has a fixed maximum number of clusters per partition, so as hard disks get bigger and bigger, the size of each cluster has to get larger. In a 2–GB partition, each cluster is 32 kilobytes, meaning that even the smallest file on the partition will take up 32 KB of space. FAT16 also doesn't support compression, encryption, or advanced security using access control lists.
The FAT32 file system, originally introduced in Windows 95 Service Pack 2, is really just an extension of the original FAT16 file system that provides for a much larger number of clusters per partition. As such, it greatly improves the overall disk utilization when compared to a FAT16 file system. However, FAT32 shares all of the other limitations of FAT16, and adds an important additional limitation—many operating systems that can recognize FAT16 will not work with FAT32—most notably Windows NT, but also Linux and UNIX as well. Now this isn't a problem if you're running FAT32 on a Windows XP computer and sharing your drive out to other computers on your network—they don't need to know (and generally don't really care) what your underlying file system is. FAT32 has a 4GB per file size limitation.
The Advantages of NTFS
The NTFS file system, introduced with first version of Windows NT, is a completely different file system from FAT. It provides for greatly increased security, file–by–file compression, quotas, and even encryption. It is the default file system for new installations of Windows XP, and if you're doing an upgrade from a previous version of Windows, you'll be asked if you want to convert your existing file systems to NTFS. Don't worry. If you've already upgraded to Windows XP and didn't do the conversion then, it's not a problem. You can convert FAT16 or FAT32 volumes to NTFS at any point. Just remember that you can't easily go back to FAT or FAT32 (without reformatting the drive or partition), not that I think you'll want to.
The NTFS file system is generally not compatible with other operating systems installed on the same computer, nor is it available when you've booted a computer from a floppy disk. For this reason, many system administrators, myself included, used to recommend that users format at least a small partition at the beginning of their main hard disk as FAT. This partition provided a place to store emergency recovery tools or special drivers needed for reinstallation, and was a mechanism for digging yourself out of the hole you'd just dug into. But with the enhanced recovery abilities built into Windows XP. I don't think it's necessary or desirable to create that initial FAT partition.
*Apple OSX – will read NTFS, but is unable to write to the drive without a simple plug-in or program such as: Paragon NTFS for Mac, or Macfuse.
When to Use FAT or FAT32
If you're running more than one operating system on a single computer, you will definitely need to format some of your volumes as FAT. Any programs or data that need to be accessed by more than one operating system on that computer should be stored on a FAT16 or possibly FAT32 volume. But keep in mind that you have no security for data on a FAT16 or FAT32 volume—any one with access to the computer can read, change, or even delete any file that is stored on a FAT16 or FAT32 partition. In many cases, this is even possible over a network. So do not store sensitive files on drives or partitions formatted with FAT file systems.
Further Notes: (NFS+, SMB)
SMB and NFS are both usable in Windows, OSX and Linux/Unix. SMB and NFS are NOT file system formats that you create on your local machine. They are network file systems. For example, NFS (Network File System) allows the local machine's hard disks to be in any format (NTFS [windows NT family], EXT3 [Linux], FAT32 [DOS], etc.). But when shared across the network as an NFS share, any computer with the ability to read/write NFS will be able to access these disks. SMB works on a similar idea, but it is a Microsoft product, therefore it is limited to windows file systems (though SAMBA for Unix/Linux/OSX allows these operating systems to connect to Windows shares using their own file systems).
As for external hard drives, the best format would be FAT32. An external disk formatted in FAT32 will be usable (Read and write) on nearly ANY system. If you format the drive for NTFS, it will only be writable on Windows based systems (though almost all OSs can read NTFS).
And if you have the wrapper driver installed, any linux distro can write NTFS using the DLL from a windows installation.
Mac OS X will read but won't write a NTFS drive, the best solution would be partitioning it in hfs+ and access it from the PC with "MacDrive for the PC" in order to use a modern filesystem ...
Of course, this is all local limitations -- Mac OS X can both read and write to NTFS volumes being shared on a network (disk format doesn't matter over a network -- only protocol) or you can use FAT32, like it has been said, but remember that Mac OS X doesn't manage FAT32 volumes of more than 137GB. Note that a 250GB disk, for instance, can be partitioned in two volumes of 125GB (with Partition Magic or the like) and will then be managed correctly, at least under Mac OS X
You cannot format a hard drive with SMB. SMB is a network file system just like NFS. This means that if you're on a network and someone has an SMB share available, and you can read SMB shares, it doesn’t matter what format the HD is.
NOTE:NFS and SMB are independant of the hard drive's file system.
FAT32 becomes inefficient after a specific size. This is why modern file systems such as NTFS, xfs, EXT3, or RieserFS exist. At over 100GB, FAT32 will be horribly inefficient. Another option would be to use gigabit Ethernet. It can read/write data about as fast as the hard drive, so it will probably be as fast as your internal hard drive, in either case, there is no FAST way to transfer over 100GBs without additional resources.
Rocky Mountain Ram ships Hard Drives into the education channel formatted FAT32 for compliance with Windows and Apple.
Please follow these instructions for Time Machine compatibility:
Formatting your FAT32 drive for a HFS+ Time Machine Partition
- Go to your applications folder -> open the folder that is called utilities
- Open the application called 'Disk Utility'
- You will see various hard drives on the left hand side of the application window. Select the one that is from the hard drive you have plugged in (If you have not plugged it in, do it now).
- There will be four or five tabs on the middle screen that will say something like, First Aid, Erase, Partition, RAID, Restore
- Click on 'Partition'
- Then just select one Partition, give your hard drive a new name, and select Mac HFS (Journaled)
- Select Options on the bottom and then click the first option
- Then just hit 'Apply'