Posted by: bhalley | 09/16/2010

Understanding Technology – 32 vs 64 bit Systems

I have had questions from several about should I buy a 32-bit or 64-bit system.  And there are so many questions this can propagate: do I need a 64-bit system, is my software compatible, or do I have a choice since more and more are 64-bit.  These are all valid questions and to help answer Microsoft has a nice article on unlocking the mystery.  They do cover quite a bit but I would like to emphasize some considerations before you buy your new system.

Drivers – Check the equipment you need to hook up to see whether or not they have 64-bit drivers.  If not, can you work without the device?

Software – Do any of the software packages I am going to purchase only come in 64-bit versions?  If there is software you will run that is 64-bit, you must have a 64-bit system.  You can run 32-bit software on a 64-bit system, but you cannot run 64-bit software on a 32-bit system.  One advantage Virtual Machine(VM) technology is that you can setup a VM that is 32-bit and then utilize your equipment that only has 32-bit drivers.

Tech Advances – Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds.  It may be that 64-bit becomes the standard and new software will only be made in 64-bit versions.  I can’t tell you when or if this will ever happen but it is a possibility.  The questions is whether or not you can afford another system in 1 or 2 years or are you planning on this purchase to last you several years.  I like to make my machines last.  I have a Pentium 3 with Windows 2000 Server that I still use.  The machine itself is over 10 years old.  Why do I have it?  It is because the software I have running on it is old and can only work with older hardware.

Unless there is a specific need for 32-bit, I would say if you can afford it and everything you need will run on it, go ahead and get a 64-bit machine so that with a memory upgrade and hard drive upgrade it will still be useful for years to come.

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