32-Bit or 64-Bit Windows

Should I install the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7? You probably already realized your Windows 7 DVD has both the 32-bit and 64-bit version of Windows to choose from. In order to decide which you should install, we need to cover some important factors that will determine if you’re capable of, or have a compelling reason, moving from a 32-bit to a 64-bit Operating System. Sixty-four bits is the future of PC computing. But that doesn’t mean the future has to be now for you.

Differences Between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows

Determine Which Version You’re Currently Running – You might be surprised to realize you’re already running a 64-bit Operating System. If you’ve purchased a new computer within the past couple of years, it’s likely a 64-bit machine. To find out for sure, right-click  Computer ( In Vista or Windows 7) and select Properties.

64-bit processor

Look under the System tab to view the details of your installation. If you’re running 64-bit, it will say “64-bit Operating System”. Otherwise, you’re running 32-Bit.

What Is The Difference Between 32-bit and 64-bit – The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the type of CPU you have in your computer. The important difference between the two is the amount of memory you can run. In 32-Bit machines, you’re limited to 4 GB of RAM. A 64-Bit machine can handle much more. So if you want to break that 4GB barrier, you’ll need a 64-bit Operating System to do so. View the RAM Limits for various 32 and 64-Bit versions of Windows.

Can I Run A 64-bit Operating System – To run a 64-bit version of Windows, you need a 64-bit CPU. While a 64-bit CPU can run a 32-bit Operating System, a 32-bit processor cannot run a 64-bit version of Windows. To determine if your computer is capable of running 64-bit, you need to do the following:

Go to Start, Control Panel. In the Control Panel’s search box, type “Performance” and you should see the option for “Performance Information and Tool” appear. Click that link.

64-bit operting system

Next, select View and print detailed performance and system information. You will either see that you are already running a 64-Bit Operating System or it will say 64-Bit Capable under the Processor section. Otherwise, you have a 32-Bit processor and you must install a 32-Bit OS.

Will My Other Hardware Be Compatible With 64-bit Windows – This is the tricky part. If you’ve already determined your CPU is capable of handling 64-bit Windows, you must next determine if the rest of your computer has drivers available for the new version. The fastest way to do this is to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and choose the 64-bit tab when selecting the Operating System. This tool will scan your machine and point out any hardware that currently does not have 64-bit driver support.

In conclusion, there are a lot of reasons to stick with a 32-bit Operating System, such as compatibility. In comparison, there isn’t any significant reason to switch unless you plan on installing more than 4GBs of memory. If your computer’s hardware is not compatible with 64-bit Windows, you can either upgrade the hardware or wait until you buy your next computer.

Category: Windows 7

About the Author ()

David is a tech professional with over fifteen years of experience in the IT fields of hardware, software and system administration.

Leave questions or comments here!