How to Check if Computer is 64 or 32 Bit (& Why it Matters)

For most versions of Windows, you can see whether you are on a 64 or 32 bit configuration by finding the System section which details the configuration of your device, alongside other useful information.

If you don’t know how to find this, simply check the guides below for Windows 11, 10, 8.1 and 7.

Windows 11 runs only on 64 bit systems since it does not support 32 bit or x86 configurations.

This means that if your PC runs Windows 11 you should only install 64 bit versions of programs.

If you’re still unsure of this and want to see for yourself do the following:

Step 1: Go to Start > Settings > System > About.

Step 2: Check the bit version under Device specifications > System type.

Method 1:

Step 1: Right Click “This PC” / “My Computer” then click on Properties.

Step 2: Find the System Type field, which should tell you if the PC is 64 bit or 32 bit.

Method 2:

Step 1: Click Start button then Settings.

Step 2: Click System.

Step 3: Scroll down to About, find the System Type field, which should tell you if the PC is 64 bit or 32 bit.

Step 1: On the Start Screen, write computer. This will open the search results.

Step 2: Click Computer, next click Properties. This opens Windows Basic Information section. Under System, verify the bit version on the System type field.

Step 1: Open the Start menu.

Step 2: Write system in the Search Programs and Files field, next click System in the Programs.

Be sure you do not press ENTER after typing system. Wait until the search has generated its list.

Step 3: The operating system will be displayed as:

  • 64-bit Operating System as the System type under System.
  • 32-bit Operating System as the System type under System.

Why computers are 64 or 32 bit

A 64-bit system can process and manage vastly more data than a 32-bit system due to its larger register.

However, it’s not a directly proportional relationship. 64-bit doesn’t just handle twice as much as 32-bit. Instead, the difference is exponential, resulting in a vastly superior data handling capacity.

For example, a 32-bit operating system has a maximum RAM capacity of 4 gigabytes, while a 64-bit system’s theoretical maximum surpasses 16.7 million terabytes, allowing users to assign terabytes of memory to individual programs.

This means that 64-bit systems provide more room for expansion, an advantage readily appreciated by many users.

Besides handling larger amounts of data, 64-bit systems offer better data efficiency, allowing them to utilize RAM more effectively.

This attribute makes 64-bit systems faster in two different ways: they can handle more data and do it more efficiently. It’s also worth noting that while a 64-bit processor can run a 32-bit operating system, doing so would be largely counterproductive, as it would limit the full potential of the processor.

64-bit versions of Windows also offer improved security. These include driver signature enforcement, patch guard, and hardware data execution prevention, all of which contribute to a more secure computing environment.

Why do 32 bit computers still exist

32-bit computers are still in existence for several reasons, including legacy software support, cost and hardware constraints, and compatibility with specific hardware devices.

Legacy Software Support

Many businesses, governments, and other organizations still rely on older software that was designed specifically for 32-bit systems. This software may be crucial for their operations, and upgrading or migrating to a new system could be expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive. In some cases, the software’s original developers may no longer be available to update the software to a 64-bit architecture.

Cost and Hardware Constraints

32-bit systems typically require less memory and processing power than 64-bit systems. This can make them a more cost-effective choice for low-resource environments, such as embedded systems, older hardware, or budget-conscious settings. For example, many low-cost or older-model smartphones, tablets, and other devices still run on 32-bit processors to save costs and power. In fact, it was only recently that Google introduced the first, 64-bit only smartphone!

Hardware Compatibility

Some specific hardware devices only have drivers written for 32-bit systems. Upgrading to a 64-bit operating system could render these devices useless unless new drivers are written, which may not be feasible if the hardware manufacturer is no longer in business or has decided not to support the device on newer systems.

Developing Markets

In many developing markets, lower-end, and thus less expensive, hardware is more prevalent. These systems often use 32-bit architectures to keep costs low. Upgrading to 64-bit systems would require more powerful and expensive hardware.

Technical Limitations

64-bit systems require more storage space and memory to operate than 32-bit systems because they handle significantly larger amounts of data. In environments where storage space or memory is limited, 32-bit systems may be the only viable option.

It’s important to note that while 32-bit computers still exist and have their uses, the tech industry’s general trend is moving towards 64-bit computing due to its superior performance, larger addressing space, and better security features. However, the complete phase-out of 32-bit systems is likely to be a slow process due to the reasons listed above.

Paul Bonea
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