RAM is one the most important and yet one of the most overlooked components when it comes to building and upgrading computers, especially when compared to other components like GPUs and CPUs. This is why in this article, we decided to talk about this unseen hero and answer the question of how long does RAM last. Can it last for years, or does it need to be replaced every now and then?
There are two reasons you might want to replace your RAM; Physical degradation or technological advancement. In this article, we will examine both these topics and help you determine how long your RAM sticks will last.
How Long Does RAM last (Physical degradation)?
The first and most obvious reason you might want to replace your RAM is if it stops working due to wear and tear. Of course, accidents can happen even five minutes after you have bought your RAM modules, but in general, RAMs are built to last many years (more than 10).
This is because RAMs don’t have many fragile parts like other parts do (coughing… GPU… coughing…), so unless there is an accident, your RAM will last for more than 10 years.
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How Long Does RAM last (technological advancement)?
This is by far the most common reason people choose to replace their RAMs.
When people upgrade their systems, along with other computer components, they will probably change their RAM modules too. This happens due to compatibility issues because, usually, the new motherboard won’t support the RAM generation they have or because they just want to add more RAM to their system. Let’s take a closer look at each case separately.
System Upgrade and Compatibility Issues
On average most people upgrade their PCs every three to five years, and when they do so, more often than not, they will upgrade the motherboard. And because RAM sticks are not cross-compatible (meaning different generations of RAMs are not compatible with each other), they need to be changed too.
For example, if you have a DDR4 motherboard and you upgrade it to a DDR5, you will need to replace your RAM, too, because your DDR4 RAM modules won’t physically fit into the new DDR5 slots.
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Adding More Memory to the System
This is not exactly replacing your RAM but adding more, and it is another very common thing people do when they want to maximize their computer’s performance.
When it comes to everyday computer use and stuff like browsing, listening to music, etc., RAM is the number one factor that slows your computer up. The reason is that computer applications like browsers, messengers, and word processors are very RAM-intensive.
Imagine that just a browser with many tabs open can utilize more than 2GB of RAM, add to this Slack or any other chat application, a music streaming app, and the word or excel you have been trying to finish for the past few days, and you will quickly understand why RAM speed degrades so fast and adding more RAM is such a common upgrade.
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So, how long does RAM last?
RAMs can last for more than 10 years if you don’t upgrade your system or have any physical accidents. But the truth is that because technology advances at such a rapid pace, the average RAM module upgrade happens every three to five years.
Can RAM wear out?
Yes, of course, RAM wears out. Just like any other computer part, RAM eventually will stop working. But because RAMs are very robust and don’t have many delicate parts, probably other parts of your computer will wear out first, and you won’t notice it.
How often should RAM be replaced?
There is not a one size fits all answer to how often RAM should be replaced. It all depends on your system performance and your needs. If you just bought the latest generation 128GB RAM, you probably won’t have to replace it anytime soon. But if you have 4 GB DDR3 RAM and your computer is lagging, then it might be time for a RAM upgrade.
How do I know if my RAM is failing?
The most common symptoms of failing RAM are:
Your computer randomly restarts
You get blue screens of death (BSOD)
Your programs run slower than usual
Your computer doesn’t boot up
You experience freezing and other weird behavior
Any of these symptoms can indicate that your RAM is failing. Of course, other components can be responsible for these issues, so make sure to properly troubleshoot your computer or consult a professional if you don’t know how to do it.
What can damage your RAM?
There are many things that can damage your RAM, but the most common are: high voltage, static electricity, and overclocking.
This is everything you need to know about RAM lifespan and how a typical RAM lasts. Probably you won’t be able to notice damage to your RAM because you will be upgrading the entire system before you can realize there is a problem. Do you have any more questions? Hit us up in the comment section.
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building