What’s the difference between a 32 bit and a 64 bit operating system?

julie December 30, 2011

What’s the difference between a 32 bit and a 64 bit operating system? Is one faster than the other?

  1. ANON
    August 1, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Jeff hi the fact that your term of staying taking up memory is wrong memory is ram that makes your pc or mac run fast so please get your terms right memory had nothing to do with Hard Dive space.

  2. manovasanth
    July 16, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Based on the Hardware requirements and Memory usage it is classifies as 32 bit and 64 bit.
    64 bit is faster but it requires additional bus, transister and internal RAM. For Home PC we buy 64 bit operating system but actually we are not configure our hardware for 64 bit operating system.

    Thanks & Regards,

  3. Sahil Dave
    January 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm


    I had a blog (which i cannot update now due to many reasons) in which i had posted an article "32 bit vs 64 bit".
    I guess you read it from this link:


  4. Mike
    December 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    In addition to the other comments: Even at 4GB RAM one can profit from a 64bit operating system.

    As already pointed out if the application is optimized for a 64bit instruction set it will run noticeable faster than it's 32bit counterpart.

    Also a 32bit Windows has a memory distribution of 2GB for the user application space and 2GB for kernel. Even if you use the workarounds (3GB, USERVA) and the application does support it you won't get more than 3GB for user applications.
    A 64bit Windows does not have this limitation. Any 64bit application could theoretically make use of the full 4GB.

  5. Anonymous
    December 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

    the ability of Windows Vista and Windows 7 x64 Editions to add address more memory space than previous versions of Windows helps minimize the time spent swapping processes in and out of memory by storing more of them in RAM.

    to make the same application on 64bits faster on32bits it would take at least 2 32-bit operations to perform the same thing

    Windows Vista Benchmark: 64-Bit Faster Than 32-Bit

    perhaps 3D applications don't benefit alot from the migration from 32 bit to 64 bit, probably because of the GPU.

  6. Jeff Fabish
    December 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Hi Julie,

    The details may get technical, so I'll start out simple. 64 bit operating systems can make use of up to 192 GB's of memory 
    (however, in theory you may actually have 17,200,000,000 GB's), while 32 bit operating systems may only use up to 4 GB's of memory on Windows. 

    Granted you have proper hardware, 64 bit operating systems are significantly faster than their 32 bit counterparts. This is because 32bit operating systems transfer blocks of data in sizes of '32 bits'. Of course, if your transferring in blocks of 64bits it's going to be faster (again, granted your not on a Fred Flintstone setup). However, if you don't have more than 4GB's of ram, don't install 64 bit OS's as it can actually be detrimental. 

    Additionally, 64 bit operating systems are more secure. Again, I'll try to spare the nerdy details but 32 bit operating systems are vulnerable to 'kernel patching'. 64bit OS's successfully mitigate this threat (there for rootkits on 64bit are highly unlikely) by implementing driver signing and hardware based data execution prevention (which basically prevents an process from manipulating memory outside its assigned memory block). 64bit OS's also have 'security through obscurity', since fewer people use the architecture, malware developers aren't wasting there time writing malware for a smaller audience.

    - Jeff

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