How Many Bits

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More and more software is becoming available in 64-bit, but 32-bit versions are typically still available. Practically all computers can run 32-bit programs, and most newer computers have the option to run 64-bit programs as well. Highly portable computers such as netbooks and tablets may not support 64-bit programs even if they are new.

If your computer can run 64-bit programs, and a program you want provides a 64-bit version, you typically want to use that over the 32-bit version. Of course if your computer cannot run 64-bit programs, the 32-bit version is the only one that will work for you.

To determine if your computer can run a 64-bit program, you need to check if it has a 64-bit operating system. We will assume the operating system in question is Windows since auWiki deals mainly with programs for Windows.

Windows 8

As Windows 8 is still in preview stages, you can’t buy a computer with Windows 8 on it yet. This means you probably installed it yourself and chose a 64- or 32-bit version. If someone did it for you, or you don’t remember what you chose, here’s how to find out:

  1. Bring up the System control panel one of the following ways:
    • With the mouse
      1. Move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen
      2. Right-click
      3. Choose System
    • Search the start screen
      1. Bring up the start screen
      2. Type System
      3. In the upper right, switch from Apps to Settings
      4. Choose the result titled simply System
  2. The System control panel lists whether your Windows version is 64-bit as System type: 64-bit Operating System
64bit-windows8.png

Windows 7

Windows 7 has the same System control panel as Windows 8, but getting to it isn’t quite the same.

  1. Bring up the System control panel one of the following ways:
    • Search the start menu
      1. Bring up the start menu
      2. Type System
      3. Choose the result titled simply System under the Control Panel heading
    • From My Computer
      1. Bring up the start menu
      2. Right-click My Computer on the right
      3. Choose Properties
  2. The System control panel lists whether your Windows version is 64-bit as System type: 64-bit Operating System
64bit-windows7.png