32 or 64-bit: Which should I get?

A Good Rule of Thumb

If in doubt, always get the 32-bit version.

Further Reading

32-bit and 64-bit are a technical shorthand for describing how much memory can be accessed by a computer processor (CPU) or program.

64-bit operating systems and programs can access more memory than their 32-bit counterparts, which can improve performance.

We can say that:

  • 32-bit programs (i.e. Microsoft Office) and operating systems (i.e., Windows) will work on any processor
  • 64-bit operating systems require a 64-bit processor
  • 64-bit programs require a 64-bit operating system

To find out if you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Right-click on Computer and select Properties
  3. The bitness will be indicated by the System Type, as highlighted in green here:

detailed operating system information