32 bit or 64 bit windows which is better

32-bit and 64-bit Windows: Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows.

Upgrading from the 32-bit version to the 64-bit version of Windows requires that you reformat your hard disk, install the 64-bit version of Windows, and then reinstall everything else that you had on your device.

Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

Select the Start button, then select Settings > System > About .
Open About settings

At the right, under Device specifications, see System type.

Windows 7

Select the Start button , right-click Computer, and then select Properties.

Under System, see the system type.

To install a 64-bit version of Windows, you need a CPU that’s capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows. The benefits of using a 64-bit operating system are most apparent when you have a large amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer, typically 4 GB of RAM or more. In such cases, because a 64-bit operating system can handle large amounts of memory more efficiently than a 32-bit operating system, a 64-bit system can be more responsive when running several programs at the same time and switching between them frequently.

To run a 64-bit version of Windows, your computer must have a 64-bit-capable processor. To find out if your processor is 64-bit-capable, do the following.

Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

Select the Start button, then select Settings > System > About .
Open About settings

At the right, under Device specifications, see System type.

Windows 7

Select the Start button , and then select Control Panel. In the search box, type Performance Information and Tools, and then, in the list of results, select Performance Information and Tools.

Select View and print detailed performance and system information.

In the System section, you can see what type of operating system you’re currently running under System type, and whether or not you can run a 64-bit version of Windows under 64-bit capable. (If your computer is already running a 64-bit version of Windows, you won’t see the 64-bit capable listing.)

32 Bit Vs 64 Bit Windows OS: What Is The Difference? How To Choose?

Short Bytes: A common confusion occurs when we have to choose between a 32-bit and 64-bit Windows OS because many of us have no idea about what is the difference between them. The two types of operating systems vary by the amount of the system memory they can handle among other differences, thus, utilizing the full potential of the hardware they are running.

M icrosoft Windows comes in many variants with barely visible feature differences. A noticeable variation is there when we have to choose between a 32-bit or a 64-bit Windows OS. Our lack of knowledge regarding the primary difference between a 32-bit and a 64-bit operation system adds to the puzzlement when it comes to deciding the appropriate version.

Microsoft started releasing 64-bit versions shortly after the launch of their well-liked and fantasized Windows XP, which had the most extended product lifespan of around 14 years.

Also Read: 12 Easy Ways To Maximize Battery Life On Windows 10

Time-traveling into the history reveals that the very first implementation of 64-bit operating systems was UNICOS – a Unix-like operating system created by the supercomputer-maker Cray Inc. in 1985. The development continued, and many operating systems — Mac OS X, Windows, Solaris, and most recently Google’s Android — were baked into their 64-bit versions.

The 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems are designed to utilize a kind of processor architecture and named so accordingly. A 32-bit OS is designed to take advantage of the resources facilitated by a 32-bit processor (like Intel’s x86), and same is the case for a 64-bit OS. So, the topic we should discuss first is the processor.

A ‘bit’ of knowledge

What does a ‘bit’ stand for? The smallest piece of data in a computer is known as a bit or binary digit. We know that a computer only understands binary language (the 0s and 1s), so, every bit can have just one binary value, either 0 or 1. A computer stores data in a collection of such bits known as a byte. 8 bits make up a byte, also called an octet.

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Also Read: 4GB, 8GB Or 16GB; How Much RAM Do You Need?

Something about the 32bit vs 64bit processors

A processor or CPU includes registers and logic circuits. Also called the brain of the computer, people often confuse CPU with the cabinet of a desktop computer. The size of the CPU register is 32-bit in a 32-bit CPU and similar for 64-bit.

The number of values that a CPU can store in its registers is 2^32. These values are used to map the address of the memory locations present in the physical memory. So, 2^32 = 4 gigabytes is the amount of memory or RAM a 32-bit processor can access during its operation.

In the case of 64-bit, the register can store 2^64 values which can be tied to 16EB (exabytes) of RAM. A grand figure when to compared to 4 GB memory that could be accessed by its older 32-bit counterpart.

Moreover, a 32-bit CPU can process 4 bytes of data in one CPU cycle as 8 bits are equal to 1 byte. So, if the size of the data to be processed is greater than 4 bytes, it would require the CPU to go for another cycle to process the remaining data.

In the case of a 64-bit CPU, the whole data, if less than 8 bytes, could be processed in a single go. Even if the data is more than 8 bytes, the 64-bit processor would require less time than the other one. You’ll not be able to notice much difference in everyday usage, except that you are the one who likes to multi-task between large applications.

In today’s time, 32-bit processors have become nearly obsolete. Even your 10 or 12-year-old computer would be running a 64-bit processor, contrary to what you might have been thinking. A 64-bit processor comes with multi-core options enabling more processing power without increasing the size of the hardware.

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The difference between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows OS

Now you know that 64-bit operating systems are designed to support more RAM than the 32-bit ones. Heavy applications like image editing software, AutoCAD, and games could have a considerable performance boost after your machine is packed with 16 exabytes of RAM, at least theoretically. The limit of physical memory that a system can access also depends on the fact whether your motherboard will accept it or not. Practically, you don’t need hundreds of gigs of RAM for gaming sessions. Read here about how much RAM do you need for gaming .

The minimum amount of RAM required for a 64-bit Windows OS is 2 GB in comparison to 32-bit Windows which requires 1 GB RAM. It’s somewhat evident because with large-sized registers more memory will be required.

You should pack a memory chip of size 4 GB if you want to experience the 64-bit Windows in action. The Home edition of Windows 10 can deal with 128 GB while the Windows 10 Pro has jaw-dropping limits, up to 2048 GB. So, you can stuff your machine with as much RAM you like. For Windows 10 users, Microsoft now recommends that at least 8GB of RAM.

There is another reason that accounts for the widespread adoption of 64 bit Windows OS; it has now become more challenging to map files in the physical memory. That’s because the average size of the files is rocketing by the tick of the clock, usually more than 4 gigabytes.

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that a 32-bit OS works fine with a 64-bit processor, but it won’t do any wonders. You’ll have to install a 64-bit OS on your machine to take full advantage of the 64-bit CPU. Also, the drivers and applications used should be designed for 64-bit processors to work efficiently.

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Windows 64-bit version offers Kernel Patch Protection which prevents unsupported changes to the kernel of the Windows OS, along with Data Execution Prevention at the hardware level. A digital signature for all the drivers is a must to prevent installation of modified drivers which may be used to inject malware into the machine.

Also Read: 13 Best Free And Open Source Software For Windows 10 Every User Must Know

The lack of software availability was a significant downside for the higher bit operating system until a couple of years back. Many older legacy software and drivers may not run on the 64-bit Windows. Many developers and companies have released newer versions of their software products with improved compatibility.

Mozilla released the 64-bit version of their Firefox browser back in December 2015. The adoption rate of 64-bit Windows has made a considerable jump in the last decade. Various PC manufacturers and the Windows-maker have continued efforts to ship the 64-bit Windows either pre-installed or along with the 32-bit Windows if bought separately.

How to check if My OS in 32bit or 64bit?

Knowing whether your Windows OS is 32-bit or 64-bit is quite simple. Just visit This PC (right-click) > Properties to check the same. There you’ll also find the type of your CPU, 64-bit or 32-bit, in front of System type.

On a final note, I would recommend you to go for 64-bit Windows because you need to keep in mind the future scenarios for your machine. As of now, almost every computer comes with a 64-bit processor packed inside. So, you might already be running one.

If you’re using a 32-bit operating system, you’re wasting the computing resources you have paid for. As far as the software availability is concerned, it is not a deal-breaker, be assured there are already plenty of them and increasing.

Did we clear your confusion about 32 bit vs 64 bit Windows OS? Drop your thoughts and feedback.

32-Bit vs. 64-Bit OSes: What’s the Difference?

Chances are good you’re running an x64-based operating system, but what does that even mean?

There are a lot of ways to count, but when it comes to computers there is only binary: 0 and 1. Each one is a considered a «bit.» That means for 1-bit computing, you get two possible values; 2-bit means four values; then at 3 bits you double that to eight (2 to the third power, aka 2 cubed).

Keep going exponentially and you eventually get 32-bit (2 to the 32nd power) worth 4,294,967,296; 64-bit (or 2 to the 64th power) is worth 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 values. That’s 18.4 quintillion and change.

That’s a lot of bits, and the numbers show just how much more powerful a chip that supports higher-bit computing can be. It’s a lot more than double.

That’s because every few years, the chips inside the computers (even smartphones) and the software running on those chips make leaps forward in supporting a new number. For example:

  • The Intel 8080 chip in the 1970s supported 8-bit computing.
  • In 1992, Windows 3.1 was the first 16-bit desktop version of Windows.
  • AMD shipped the first 64-bit desktop chip in 2003.
  • Apple made Mac OS X Snow Leopard entirely 64-bit in 2009.
  • The first smartphone with a 64-bit chip (Apple A7) was the iPhone 5s in 2014.

It’s pretty obvious: 64-bit, sometimes styled as x64, is capable of doing more than 32-bit. You might know 32-bit as x86, a term that originally referred to any OS with the instruction set to work on Intel chips like the 8086 through 80486.

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These days, you are most likely already running 64-bit chips with 64-bit operating systems, which in turn run 64-bit apps (for mobile) or programs (on the desktop, to settle on some nomenclature). But not always. Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 all came in 32-bit or 64-bit versions, for example.

How do you even tell which one you have?

Identify a 64-Bit OS

If you are running Windows on a computer less than 10 years old, your chip is almost guaranteed to be 64-bit, but you may have installed a 32-bit version of the OS. It’s easy enough to check.

In Windows 10, go to Settings > System > About or type About in the Windows 10 search box. Under the Device specifications heading, you’ll see it at System type: «64-bit operating system, x64-based processor» means you’re covered.

Mac users don’t have to worry about this, as MacOS has been 64-bit only for a long time. In fact, as of the latest version (10.14 Catalina) 32-bit applications on a Mac aren’t even technically supported, but we have a guide for running 32-Bit apps in MacOS Catalina. If you must.

Why 32-Bit at All?

Why would you install a 32-bit OS on a PC? The big reason is because you have a 32-bit processor, which requires a 32-bit OS.

Having such a CPU today is unlikely. Intel started making 32-bit processors in the 80386 range way back in 1985; it was selling 64-bit processors by 2001. If you’ve bought a PC since the Pentium D chip came out in 2005, it’s unlikely you’d have only a 32-bit instruction set inside.

More likely, you have an old system with an operating system you installed that only came as 32-bit. Subsequent upgrades, if any, may not have jumped your install up to 64-bit. That may be fine—not all of the earliest 64-bit processors had all the features in place. You can determine if your PC is really ready for full 64-bit by using software like 64bit Checker. It works on all versions of Windows going back to Windows 95.

Installing a 32-bit OS on a 64-bit-architecture system can work, but it’s not optimal. A 32-bit OS, for example, has more limitations—the standout being it can only really utilize 4GB of RAM. Installing more RAM on a system with a 32-bit OS doesn’t have much impact on performance. However, upgrade that system with excess RAM to the 64-bit version of Windows, and you’ll notice a difference.

This should spell it out in the starkest way: the officially supported maximum RAM on Windows 10 is 2 terabytes (or 128GB on Windows 10 Home).

The theoretical limit of RAM at 64-bit: 16 exabytes. That’s equal to 1 million terabytes or 1 billion gigabytes. But we’re a long way from having hardware that could ever support that. (Either way, it makes buying a new laptop with 16GB of RAM seem unimpressive, doesn’t it?)

64-bit computing features many other improvements, though in ways that may not be noticeable to the naked eye. Wider data paths, larger integer sizes, eight-octet memory addresses. It’s all stuff for the computer scientists to take advantage of, to make your computing all the more powerful.

Programs in 64-Bits

You may also notice that some programs you download for your desktop operating system come in 32- and 64-bit versions. Firefox is a good example, where the options are «Windows 32-bit» and «Windows 64-bit» (as well as «Linux» or «Linux 64-bit»—the macOS version is 64-bit only).

Why do that? Because 32-bit OSes are still out there for some. Those systems need 32-bit software—they typically can’t even install a 64-bit program, and certainly won’t run them. However, a 64-bit OS can support a 32-bit program—Windows in particular has built in an emulation subsystem for that, called Windows32 on Windows64, or WoW64.