Last updated on 22-11-2017

To tell you the truth, I’m a little embarrassed calling it a tutorial (cause it really isn’t!). Alas, so many people have asked me how to tell whether their pc has a 32-bit or 64-bit system.

HARDWARE

As microsoft itself says, The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the way a computer’s processor (also called a CPU), handles information. The 64-bit version of Windows handles large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more effectively than a 32-bit system.

But what does really mean?

Let’s do some math.

A 32-bit processor includes a 32-bit register, which can store 232 (that is 4,294,967,296) values. A 64-bit processor includes a 64-bit register, which can store 264 (that is 18,446,744,073,709,551,616) values. I guess you can see where this is going. A 64-bit register is not once, nor twice, but 4,294,967,296 times larger than a 32-bit!  That’s huge, right?

Plain and simple, it means that a 32-bit prosser can access up to 4GB of RAM, and a 64-bit can access up to 16 exabytes (theoretically).  So, a 64-bit processor can compute a lot faster than a 32-bit.

SOFTWARE

Most programs come out in two versions. A 32-bit version and a 64-bit one. As it is expected, a 32-bit program can run either on a 32-bit or a 64-bit system. However, a 64-bit program can oly run on a 64-bit system.

Of course, in order for any program to run, there has to be an operating system (OS). You guessed it right! The OS too, has a 32-bit (you will find it as (x86) )and a 64-bit version.

Note! A 64-bit processor can run a 32-bit operating system, but that is unadvised cause it wouldn’t be using the full extent of its’ capacity.

On the other hand, a 32-bit processor can not run with anything other than a 32-bit OS.

So, to sum up.

  • If you have a 32-bit processor, then you’re running a 32-bit OS and 32-bit programs.
  • If you have a 64-bit processor, then you’re most likely running a 64-bit OS and both 64-bit and 32-bit programs.

HOW TO FIND IF YOU HAVE A 32-bit OR 64-bit SYSTEM

The most likely scenario is that you have a 64-bit OS, especially if you bout your pc after 2009, but let’s see where you can find out what kind of an OS you have. There are a couple different ways, but the easiest is below

Go to start menu

right-click on the Computer and choose properties

 

And there you have it, at the “system type”

On a final note, if you have an 64-bit OS you also have an 64-bit CPU, but there are some cases where we can find an 64-bit CPU running an 32-bit OS. In that case in order to examine if your CPU is either 64-bit or 32-bit you can go to:

-Start Menu

-All Programs

-Accessories

-System Tools

and select System Information

There you can check the type of your CPU.

check-cpu-screenshot

 

If you are in this category you should upgrade your OS to 64-bit for best performance.

As described before, if you have an 64-bit OS you are able to run 32-bit programs and applications.

If  you want to check, upgrade or replace them you can find them installed in the folder “C:\Program Files (x86)”.

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