Meta: Windows users need to depend on either 32-bit or 64-bit version to make sure their computer can work well with RAM. In general, 64-bit is better at handling RAM and applications than 32-bit.
When you buy a computer or download software installation, you often see notes that you must download the correct version (32-bit or 64-bit) for your computer. This is quite important to have the right selection because it will affect the performance of the operating system, software, sometimes can cause unexpected errors. So, what is the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows and their pros and cons?
32-bit and 64-bit Windows
32-bit and 64-bit Windows are both Windows operating systems installed on the computer. The main difference between these two operating systems is the ability to take advantage of RAM. Specifically, 64-bit Windows can work with RAM that has a capacity of over 3.2GB (or lower) to 128GB. On the other hand, 32-bit Windows can receive a maximum RAM of 3.2GB only.
It is important to know the version of your Windows (32-bit or 64-bit)
So, if you install a 32-bit version of Windows on a computer system that uses more than 8GB of RAM, the amount of free space will not mean anything. The large memory processing capacity makes the 64-bit version more efficient in performing the workflows. The 64-bit version will help increase overall performance on your PC, so it is more powerful than the 32-bit.
Advantages of 64-bit Windows
Have more RAM for the computer
Theoretically, a 64-bit operating system can support more than 17 billion GB of RAM thanks to the large register system. In fact, 64-bit Windows 7 Home only 64GB of RAM. The Pro and Ultimate versions support 192GB of RAM due to hardware limitations.
Increase computer performance
Not only does RAM increase in quantity, but a 64-bit system can use RAM more efficiently. Due to the features of the 64-bit addressing system in registers and the way 64-bit Windows allocates memory, RAM will not be consumed by secondary systems.
Computers can allocate more virtual memory per process
In a 32-bit system, Windows is limited in memory allocation (only 2GB for each application). Modern games, videos, photo editors, virtual machine applications will need more RAM. In theory, virtual memory can allocate up to 8TB in a 64-bit system, which is enough for photo editing sessions on Photoshop or Chrome tabs.
Apart from using and allocating memory more efficiently, applications are optimized for 64-bit systems like Photoshop, VirtualBox will be faster and take advantages of free space of the processor and available memory.
Enjoy advanced security features
64-bit Windows and 64-bit CPU have additional protecting methods that the 32-bit version does not have such as D.E.P hardware, Kernel Patch Protection which helps protect you from kernel exploits.
In general, using a 64-bit version has more advantages than 32-bit
Disadvantages of 64-bit Windows
It is hard to find 64-bit drivers for old but important devices on the system
Software vendors mostly support 64-bit versions of the operating system and the latest devices. If you use Windows 10 or 8/8.1 created in the last 5 years, there will be fewer problems with the driver. But if you use Windows 7 or an older version of Windows, the problem will be a bit more serious. For example, you will not be able to find a 64-bit driver for expensive scanners manufactured in 2003. Therefore, when upgrading to a 64-bit version of Windows, you should consider the hardware devices you will with the computer.
Motherboards that do not support more than 4GB of RAM
Although it is rare, there are still early motherboards that support a 64-bit system but only support up to 4GB of RAM. In this case, you will get some benefits of a 64-bit processor. However, it cannot help users have more RAM and use RAM effectively. The motherboard is not too expensive. So, if your system is outdated, you may consider upgrading your motherboard with your operating system.
Software compatibility issue
Although 32-bit software can run on 64-bit Windows, 16-bit applications do not. If you are using an old 16-bit application, you will have to use it on a virtual machine or change to a new, more-bit version.
Users should notice that most programs designed for a 32-bit version can support a 64-bit version except some antivirus programs. However, if a program is designed for a 64-bit version, it will not work on the 32-bit version. Therefore, you should make the right choice before deciding to buy the version of Windows that you expect to use.