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What is the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit programs

What are the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit

Although the first 64-bit operating system dates from 1985, it was not until the arrival of Windows XP and the use of computers with more than 4 GB of RAM that this architecture began to gain traction among the average user. The main difference between 32-bit processors, known as x86, and 64-bit processors, known as x64, is the size of the CPU register. The larger the size of this record, the more data it can hold and process.

For example, a 32-bit processor can only contain a maximum of 2 ^ 32 addresses within its registry, which limits this architecture to using a maximum of 4 GB of RAM. Conversely, 64-bit processors can store a total of 2 ^ 64 addresses, being limited to 16 EB of RAM.

The larger the processor register size, the greater the data capacity it will be able to process and, therefore, the higher the performance of the processor as the processing capacity per core is greater. In addition, we must bear in mind that today there are very heavy applications such as Google Chrome or Adobe tools that, as soon as we use them, can already occupy more than 4 GB of RAM, so, if we do not want to have problems, ideally run on 64-bit systems.

64-bit processors, operating systems, and applications are also much more secure than 32-bit applications since have layers of security such as DEP and special kernel protection that prevent hackers from exploiting flaws that allow them to take control of our systems.

Although all seem advantages, in reality it is not like that. The x64 operating systems and programs are much larger than the x86 versions. In addition, 16-bit applications do not work on x64 operating systems, so if we use an old application we can have problems.

Although we have a compatible processor (today practically anyone is), we must also take into account that both our operating system must be prepared to work in this architecture and that the applications must be compiled for 64 bits since, otherwise, they will not be able to take full advantage of the processor capabilities or fully access the RAM.

How to check if our Windows or a specific program is for 32 bits or for 64 bits

First of all, to check the architecture of our Windows, all we have to do is open the properties of our computer (by right-clicking on the PC icon on the desktop and choosing “Properties”) and there we will see if our Windows it is for 32 or 64 bit.

In addition, if we want to know if a program running on our computer is 32 or 64 bits, as explained in BitSoftwareZone, we can open the Windows task manager and, in the “Details” tab, we can see the type of process that is .

Process details in 32-bit and 64-bit Windows

Finally, if we want to check if a certain executable is for 32 or 64 bits, but it is not yet loaded in memory and does not appear in the list of processes, we must open the file’s properties with the right button and go to the tab. compatibility. If the file allows us to run it in Windows 95/98 mode, it is 32 bits. Otherwise, if the minimum operating system is Windows Vista, it will be 64-bit.

64-bit program compatibility

If we have a 64-bit operating system, we can run 32-bit applications without problems since the operating system itself “emulates” them without affecting their performance, however, if our system or processor is x86, it will not be able to run x64 applications.

When should I choose a 32-bit operating system or program and when should I choose a 64-bit one?

The first thing we must take into account is the amount of RAM we have in our computer. If we have more than 4 GB, our only option is a 64-bit system since, otherwise, we will not be able to take advantage of all the memory.

If we are also going to use particularly heavy programs, such as graphics, video or gaming editors, it is also advisable to use an x64 system that guarantees the best performance and allows us to make the most of the resources of our equipment.

It is always advisable to opt for a 64-bit operating system since we will have all the characteristics of the 32-bit system with the improvements that this architecture brings us, however, if our processor is old and does not support this feature or we have less than 2 GB of RAM, it is best to choose a 32-bit system to not saturate our system either.

Finally, in exceptional cases, if our processor is very old and does not support x64 instructions, but we have 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM memory, or we install a 32-bit Windows, not being able to make the most of the memory, or a system Linux operating with a PAE kernel that allows 32-bit processors to make use of more than 4 GB of RAM.

Do you prefer to use 32-bit or 64-bit applications?