When you’re shopping around for an operating system, you might notice that there’s two main types of any recent OS. There’s a 32 bit version and a 64 bit version of operating systems like Windows Vista, Windows 7, and others.
You might wonder exactly what it means for an OS to be 32 bit or 64 bit. It’s a pretty common question, so don’t feel embarrassed–you’re not computer illiterate or anything. At the end of this article, you’ll have a good grasp of the difference, and you’ll know which form of an operating system will work for you.
Here’s a look at why 64 bit operating systems are often considered “better” than 32 bit systems.
Speed – The biggest (and really only) factor is speed. 64 bit operating systems are usually around 10% faster than their 32 bit counterparts. That may not sound like a lot, but in average processing, it’s a huge difference.
64 bit operating systems simply use 64 bit processors to the most of their abilities; many modern computers are built with 64 bit processors. However, a 64 bit processor can operate a 32 bit operating system just fine–so, for instance, if you’re considering an upgrade to Windows 7 or Vista and your processor is 64 bit, you can use either version. If your processor is 32 bit, you can only run the 32 bit version of the OS well.
Hardware Driver Development – Most computers in homes and offices today operate using 32 bit operating systems (Windows XP is exceptionally popular, of course). It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for hardware developers that are strapped for cash to develop versions of their drivers for 64 bit systems, so unfortunately there’s a lot of computer hardware out there, especially older hardware, that won’t function well with 64 bit systems. Bugs and slowdown will be present when using 32 bit drivers in a 64 bit operating system, if the drivers even begin to function at all.
As such, you’ll need to check your computer carefully, including all attached hardware, before you decide to use a 64 bit operating system. You won’t benefit from the extra speed and processing power if your computer’s hardware is on the blitz, so doing a bit of research on your own system is a wise choice. If your computer’s up to snuff, though, a 64 bit version of an operating system can be a wise investment that will greatly improve your computer’s speed.
Do you have any questions about the difference between 64 bit and 32 bit operating systems? Post in our comments section below.