Trading Computers – How Much RAM Do You Need?

My Name is Eddie Z and I am the author of How to Buy a Trading Computer & Save Thousands .  I have been trading the financial markets electronically for over 15 years, and during that time I have come to learn what technology online traders need, what works best  and what does not.  This is article 3  of 20 EZ Tips on How to Buy a Trading Computer.  My goal in this series is to educate you, inform you, and hopefully save you over 1000 dollars on your next trading system. People ask me all the time: How Much RAM do I need? And it really is a great question…. Well what is RAM?  RAM is Random Access Memory.  When you first turn on your computer, your RAM is totally the empty.   The first thing the computer does is pull the Operating System, like Windows 7 or Vista , from your hard drive and loads it into the RAM where its then  initiated and your computer boots up.  Whenever you open a program, your computer pulls the program instructions from the hard drive and puts them into the RAM.  RAM is where all your programs reside when they are in use.  When they are not in use they live on the hard drive.
So how much RAM do you need?  You need enough RAM to hold ALL of the programs that you use simultaneously.   Windows 7 by itself uses 1 to 1.5 GB of RAM and then you add in your trading programs, browsers, instant message programs, virus protection. Etc and you can get up to about 4 GB very quickly.  If you are running more programs than your RAM can handle, your computer will start using your hard drive for space and this can really slow things down.  Years ago when we first got broadband, most of our computer did not have enough RAM to suddenly handle the large amounts of data we were pulling off the internet and it took a long time for pages to load.  Adding RAM at that time made an enormous difference.  A safe amount of RAM for traders these days is 6GB and if you want to make sure you never run out of RAM, you can go with 12 GB. When it comes to RAM,  better safe than sorry.  If you are running windows 7 with 8 monitors, 6 browsers, a trading platform generating 10 charts,   6 GB will work well.  If you are running some kind of quantitative automated trading strategy uses more than 10 indicators it would probably be best to go with 12 GB of RAM.
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