What Operating System Do I Have? A 32bit or a 64bit?

What operating system do I have? I stumbled across this dilemma when I needed to download a free file from the Microsoft website and was presented with two choices for my download. I could download the file in 32 bit version or 64 bit version, depending on which one suited my operating system. Also see what is 64 bit?

But the question remained, what operating system do I have? You really need to know if you have Windows XP home, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Home, Premium, Ultimate, or Business? The list goes on. Maybe you have Windows Seven. Also the average user has no idea what the difference is between a 32 bit operating system and a 64 bit so I will show you how to find out which one is running on your computer.

Lets start with some computer basics:

What is a processor?

The processor is a main component of a computer that is attached to the mother board. It is technically called the Central processing Unit or CPU for short. It is the brain of the computer because it processes all of the information and data. The bigger your processor, the faster your computer performs your tasks. If you have a 64 bit processor it would probably be reasonably fast as this is a new technology. We have also mentioned components of a computer in a basic computer terminology article.

What is an Operating system?

An operating system is the software you install on your computer that allows you to operate the computer. Windows is an operating system. If you want to find out what operating system you have then this is very simple. You need to know what operating system you have on your computer so you can download the right drivers and software that is compatible.

What Operating system do I have?

If you are wondering if you have Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows Seven, it’s very easy to find out. If you are wondering if your computer is a 32bit or 64bit then read on further down the page. People often ask me “what operating system do I have?” I would have thought this was a well known computer basics thing to know, however many do not know the answer. The average computer user does not work with all versions of Windows as much as I do so how can I expect them to know?

1.  Go to your start menu. This will apply for all Windows Versions.

2.  Click on control panel in the menu.

3.  Double click on the system icon. If you cannot see all the pretty icons press on the link to view the control panel in classic view.

4.  You will see all the details in front of you. See the screen shot below. Click on the picture to see a larger size. Here you can see what operating system you have.

The above screen shot shows Windows vista and the below shot is Windows XP. It looks different but the information result is the same. They both tell you what operating you have.

The information I can see here is:

  • What operating system I have and what version and service pack.
  • How much computer memory I have.
  • What processor I have.
  • What speed the processor is.
  • If I have a 32bit or 64bit processor. (Sometimes it is not shown on an old computer)

What Operating system do I have and is it 32bit or 64 bit?

A 64 bit operating system is an operating system such as Windows XP or Windows Vista, that has been purposely developed for a computer with a 64 bit processor. You cannot use 64 bit software on a computer with a 32 bit processor but you can use 32 bit software with a 64 bit processor.

What to look for:

  1. For a 64-bit version operating system, 64-bit Operating System appears for the system type under System
  2. For a 32-bit version operating system, 32-bit Operating System appears for the system type under System.
  3. Also, a x86-based version means a 32-bit version operating system. Microsoft Win32 uses the x86 processor in 32-bit flat mode.

What operating system do I have and is 32 bit or 64 bit?

Windows XP

  1. Go to the start menu.
  2. Choose all programs.
  3. Then choose accessories, then system tools.
  4. Now choose system information.
  5. See the screen shot below.

what operating system do I have

If it says x86 then you have a 32 bit operating system. If the processor area mentioned a 64 or AMD64 then this means you have a 64 bit processor.  If it said Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Version then this means it is a 64 bit operating system. However as you can see from above, it says Microsoft Windows XP Professional and the processor starts with X86 so therefore this is a 32 bit processor with a 32 bit operating system.

64bit operating system

The screen shot above shows a 64 bit operating system which means I also have a 64 bit processor to allow this.

Windows Vista

In Windows Vista you can find out the same way. Start menu>Programs>Accessories>System tools>System information. You can also type the word system into the search bar in the start menu.

Bargain: If you find that you do have a 64 bit processor check out this Windows Seven operating system for under $100!
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit

What operating system do I have? Another way to see if you have a 32 bit or a 64 bit operating system

1.  Go to control panel by going to the start menu in the bottom left corner.

2.  Click on the system icon.

3.  The information will be there.

4.  See in the screen shot below I have a 32-bit Operating system.

32 bit operating system

On my laptop I have a 64 bit Operating system installed because the laptop has a 64-bit processor.

How To Find What Operating System I Have on a Failed Computer?

Just say you cannot get into your computer and you want to know if you should format your computer using a 32bit or a 64bit operating system? Well

Which Version of Windows should I Install? 32 bit or 64 bit?

To install a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, you need a processor that’s capable of running a 64-bit version of Windows. The benefits of using a 64-bit operating system are most apparent when you have a large amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer (typically 4 GB of RAM or more). In such cases, because a 64-bit operating system can handle large amounts of memory more efficiently than a 32-bit operating system, a 64-bit operating system can be more responsive when running several programs at the same time and switching between them frequently. Source

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a 64 bit system?

  • You will need to install 64-bit drivers for all your add ons like your printer, usb stick, digital camera, and more. This is why people have had problems with having a 64 bit system. However as time goes on the technology gets better and more refined… Soon drivers will be available for most devices.
  • If you have a 64 bit processor and a 64 bit operating system you will have to have  64-bit software applications like office programs, picture editors, and so on..
  • There is not much compatible software available at the moment, however this is changing.
  • A Vista 64 bit operating system does not support any 32 bit software.
  • An AMD 64 bit processor supports both 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems.
  • Vista 64 bit operating system has major improvements on security features and kicks the 32 bit butt. New features that prevent and almost make system attacks impossible.
  • Vista Home Basic 64 bit supports up to 8 GB of RAM, Vista Home Premium 64 bit supports up to 16 GB and Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate 64 bit supports up to 128 GB, whereas 32 bit Vista supports 4 GB or RAM.
  • A 64-bit processor is made with more advanced processes, have more features, and of course has faster speeds.

Notes: 32 bit and 64 bit operating system

  • You can upgrade from XP 64-bit to Vista 64-bit, but not from Vista 32-bit to Vista 64-bit.
  • If you are running a 64 bit operating system then we must presume you have a 64 bit processor as well.
  • You can also type winmsd.exe into the run box for the system information box to come up.
  • You can also press The WIN KEY and pause break to open system properties. Sometimes the information is there.
  • Now that you know if you have a 32bit or 64 bit system, find out more information about your computer.
  • See more on the Microsoft website about 32 bit and 64 bit Windows.
  • Also see what is 64 bit?

If you are still asking what operating system do I have, then please make a comment below?


  1. paul says

    i have acer aspire 5738 32 bit. how can i install 64-bit operating os from vmware.
    thank you.

  2. says

    can we change the vid no and pid number of a device (usb stick) as windows does not understand which driver to load or device not certified with windows.

  3. Don Harrison says

    I purchased a new computer with windows 7 and then I discovered that it would not accept installation of my Broderbund “print shop pro-publisher 2000” software.
    After a lot of research and searching on the net I found that the reason was the software was designed for a 32 bit operating system and I now have a 64 bit system. TGhis leaves me in a big quandry because I cannot access any of the projects I have built that are in the computer.
    QUESTION :If I download a free 32 bit system will both systems operate without
    clashing? If they won’t what will happen when I install the 32 bit system?
    I am an old man 85 years past and need a bity of help[ that will be greatly appreciated

  4. Debbie says

    I am getting the error message Missing Operating System. I cannot get on my computer at all. Is there a way to find what OS I am using so I can get a recovery disc? My computer did not come with one. It’s a Dell Inspiron 530. Thanks!

  5. ASfaw says

    my question is, what operating system do i have? how ever you have mentioned about what operating system uses my computer.That is no my question.your procedure to know an operating system is, after installation. But i asked that before installation.Meaning what operating system i do have in my hand with A CD/DVD? How to know it is X64 or 32 bit before i formatted any failure computer?

    Hint:I have windows 7 installation DVD that i have borrowed from my friend.when i asked him what bit operating system is it? he said I don’t know! how to check it before instilled it to any computer?

  6. Kyle says

    These methods say my processor is 32 bit. But why does the sticker on my computer say AMD Athlon 64 processor? And why does it say the same thing in the system section of the control panel? What does 64 processor mean? I don’t get it, it’s missing the word “bit.”

  7. TrayJay says

    I have a Vista Home Premium os 32 but a 64 AMD processor. Just a note on your first or second step by going through control panel and system. Mine still says 64 bit OS. This confused me at times because i was pretty sure it was 32. But by going to all programs and accesories,system tools,system info it shows 32 bit os in there. So just a tip for those and who might try the other step first and be misled.Thanks for your tips

      • Tracy Jay says

        Hi Mitz, Ok so I still remain confused. in my last comment I stated I had a 32 bit but in the Windows specs section on the PC it showed 64. I stated this because by doing your step in going through all programs process in there it showed 32 bit. I assumed this would show the proper OS bit. However,because i was still completely unceartain i went to HP support and entered my product and it states 64 bit OS. So i’m guessing I have a 64 bit OS but running the WOW64 bit program so that i trick the software to think im 32 bit? I am not the most knowledgeable in software or hardware but trying to learn. Thank you for your time and I wanted to add this because others are going to run into this making how to find your OS bit a bit tricky as it has been in my case.Your opinion in this would be appreciated.

  8. Sultan says

    I have 64 bit, Lenevo Think Pad system, WINdows 7. How can I send a fax from my system? for example I want to send a document ( a letter, a CV or a spread sheet to a fax machine from my PC.

  9. TS says

    i have Lenovo g560 with p6200 Pentium processor with windows 7 home basic 32 bit is it possible to install 64 bit home premium in it

  10. alan says

    I am trying to resurrect my son in laws’ acer aspire 5733, the Hard disk has failed(Chkdsk reports multiple problems on the b drive which contains the O.S. The label on the bottom tells me that the O.S. is Windows 7 Home Prem. In the Microsoft download centre there are downloads for the various versions of Windows 7 including a 32bit and a 64 bit version for the Home Premium versions. Since the system fails to boot, is there any way to tell which version is installed from the command prompt?

  11. Emma King says

    My OS is currently a 32 bit one and I think there is another way to figure it out. I remember looking at my friend PC whose OS is 64bit and it has two different “Program Files” folders.

  12. Brennan says

    I have Windows 7 home premium 64bit. I wanna know if 32bit programs Install faster on a 64bit operating system.

  13. siva says

    Hi, my system is Windows XP (32-bit).
    But I downloaded windows 7 Home Premium(64-bit)

    now does it works in my computer….?

  14. Felicia Kinder says

    Thanks. This was really helpful. I’m in the process of downloading some architecture stuff and it asked me if my computer’s OS was 32 or 64, and I hadn’t known anything about it. Now i know that mine is 32, and can continue downlading this thing. Thanks a bunch. :)

  15. Misty G says

    I have a Compaq Presario CQ56-219WM and it recently died. I am not sure if my Windows 7 was 64 or 32. Is there anyway to tell? I was getting the errors: no operating system, no boot disk and also no hardrive when I tried to test it. I purchased a new hard drive and am getting ready to order recovery disk. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I thought about making repair disks and trying them on the old hard drive but probably not much use huh? Thanks.

  16. David says

    Sorry for my previous comment. Well this saved a lot of time. Some softwares have different download files for 32bit/64bit OS, and I always had to download both files and test them to see which one will work. I just followed your steps and figured out my OS is 32 bit thank you for sharing.

  17. Ratguard says

    I recently bought a basic system, 500gb HD, 4 gigs ram, windows 7 home premium 32 bit on a 64 bit platform, Intel 2.8 processor. I run into the downloading choice of 32? or 64? Most 32 programs operate just dandy. Sometimes I am told, “sorry, we have detected a 64 bit system”, and they won’t download. This machine runs beautifully and I’m the major obstacle when it jams up. I use CCleaner, Puran Defrag, best I’ve ever used, MalwareBytesAntiMalware (free), free SuperAntiSpyware, Kaspersky AV 2012(paid), and free SpyWare Blaster. Nothing conflicts. All updated daily. I tried the newest and biggest SpyBot recently, and it jammed it all up. The older version does fine, however. I also use the free Returnil System Safe 2011 for it’s Virtual feature, which acts like a SandBoxie, which doesn’t want to work on this system. Why Windows allowed this 32/64 hybrid to be still confuses me. But, the price was right, and I trust Santa Rosa Computers. So, I haven’t offerd any eal insight, but nobody mentioned the existence of this option. Peace and clarity to you all, and, in the immortal words of Lenny Bruce, “You can’t get snot off a suede jacket”. Ratguard

    • woodwalker says

      Uh, dude, if you don’t have an operating system, you’ll know it. Namely by the black screen that comes up by saying that there is no operating system detected. If that has not happened, then you have an os. If you are using the computer, you have an os.

  18. abhiz says

    I’m currently using mac! Next month i’m planning to buy a win7 laptop for my child, this comparison and information between 32bit and 6bit truly amazing. Thank you very much

    • Jerry says

      32-bit is antiquated, Move up to the 21st century if you get Windows home premium 7 64-bit it’s backwards compatible so you build run 32-bit programs and 64-bit programs so that your answer

  19. parth says

    how can i change operating system from 64 to 32 bit.
    and is it possible to change it send your feedback on my id plz
    and which is better 64 or 32?

  20. Duy says

    Nice tutorial Mitz 😀

    My OS is currently a 32 bit one and I think there is another way to figure it out. I remember looking at my friend PC whose OS is 64bit and it has two different “Program Files” folders. Something looks like a “x86” folder. I don’t know if it’s an obvious sign of 64bit OS or not. Have you seen it?

  21. Andrey says

    BTW, I could change type of processor in System Variables, but I did not know what to fill-in there.

    I changed “64b” to “32b”, but probably it was a mistake, because next time the computer restarted, it put “64b” back.

    Now on Vista I have it like this:


    Well, unfortunately, I did not try that because I did not know if what was the right setting :)

  22. says

    Well if you have a 64bit computer then you should have 64 bit os so you can get the best performance from your computer. There is no point getting 32bit software as 64bit is better. Pretty much everything is compatible with 64bit now.

    • Rebecca Holcomb says

      I have a 64bit and the program for my class only runs with 32bit. I have even tried running the x86 version of ie8 that is installed and it does not work then either, so there is some validity to the request of how to go back to a 32bit from a 64bit. I have been having to borrow other people’s laptops to do my assignments which are 100% online, so it can be frustrating.

  23. Andrey says

    My computer is 32bit and I was using Vista for years… A couple of hours ago I installed Win 7 Pro (32bit), not in properties it says that I have a 64bit computer!! WHAT A….

      • Andrey says

        It is running OK, but I could not install MS SQL, one of the components (it is name is something like …xxxWOW64) despite of its name is designed to run on 32bit systems. I got an error message saying “your computer is 64bit”….
        Now I returned to Vista :-)

    • sisa says


      Your computer processor /chip= 64bit never 32 bit never will be relax. Processors are bolted on the motherboard only a miracle will alter them .

  24. Jerry Tyson says

    Just bought a 32bit XP and upgraded it to 64bit after reading this. I heard upgrading to 64 bit wasn’t possible but you proved me wrong 😉

  25. Mike says

    Nice post, And I love that you are using commentluv. Good description on how to find out if you have an x86 or x64 OS. It’s a common question that I get asked on a regular basis.

  26. says

    Reading your blog, Mitz, made me feel how grateful I am to have a Mac… LOL

    A lot less problems, although switching from PC to Mac was a challenge in the beginning.

    • says

      I have been through that hassle too Ana…My nephew bought a Mac and needed urgent help… Believe it or not I had an apple computer years ago when they had green writing on the screen…

  27. says

    Hello Mitz

    Nice post and thank you for sharing…

    Your step by step procedure is very easy to follow and this will help a lot of people
    our there who doesn’t know much about computers to get to know about these things.

    Such an interesting topic. Keep on posting!

  28. Scott says

    Hey Mitz,

    Another great post!!! Are you using the 64bit v of Win7? We are having better success with it at work.


    • says

      Hi Fuoad
      If you have a 64 bit operating system you can install a 32bit one instead. I am not sure why though.??

  29. says

    If your computer has a 64 bit processor you can install 64bit windows and other software…

    If you have a 32bit processor you cannot install 64bit software…

    If you have a 64 bit processor you can still use 32bit software.

  30. steve says

    hi mitz, I BOUGHT a ibm think pad from a yard sale and it has a operating system on it and i can not login or do anything with can you help?

    • says

      Hi Steve
      Did you try to hit CRTL ALT DEL at the login screen..depends what OSystem you have…then type in administrator and leave the password section blank.

    • says

      Some thinkpad and lenovo models have a security chip that locks the system before the bios can access any boot devices. If this is the case you cannot use the pc until you clear the bios security check. Even if you replace the system hard drive you cannot reload Windows if the bios won’t allow a boot. In this case it may be less expensive to get another notebook.

  31. Valarie L says

    I have Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit OS. I am trying to register a Garmin product, and its plug-in says it requires 32-bit OS, and 64bit will not be successful. I’ve contacted their support but have to wait “a bit” for a response there too. Anything I can do?

  32. Abi says

    I just formatted my HD and reinstalled xp sp3…..whenever I am trying to install programs and download them form websites (ex skype, adobe reader) it keeps saying i have Linux!?? I am not being able to get around that. any help please??

  33. says

    Great crash course introduction. Now I just need to figure out a way so my grandmother can understand it (she doesn’t necessarily need to know how to see if it is 32 or 64 bit), I think I may try your method of just showing her some pics of what to do…or maybe I’ll just point her to your blog lol.

  34. bogdan says

    Hi I have a question about what operation system I have.
    For example i have lenovo t510 i7 4GB 32HDD and If i install 32 bit on 64 what will show? what type of system is installed or witch system is the laptop. Everywhere i look t510 is on 64 and i have on 32, so i want to install 64 bit , but i don´t know if is possible

  35. bogdan says

    I have a question … If my laptop has 64bit operating system and I install a windows 32bit, what is will appear on the screen? That I have installed windows 32 bit or that my laptop is 64bit. The windows shows what kind of windows I installed or witch kind of operating system he has. I have 32 bit but everywhere I look the same laptop mike mine has 64, and when i check it it says 32 bit, or maybe is shows that because I´ve installed windows 32 bit on it?

  36. Pawan says

    Great Info Man!

    I am looking for xp from many days but could not find any usable info, but yours is awesome!


  37. Gary W. Taylor says

    On a Windows Defender Site for Updates it ask 32 or 64 Bit BUT it also ask AM or NIS what do these mean & How do you fund out?

    What is the CommentLUV? I unchecked it.

    • says

      Hi there Gary,
      Since you are trying get updates from the Windows defender site I’m gathering that NIS stands for Norton Internet Security. I am not sure about the AM…
      Comment Luv is for website owners to leave links to the articles. You do not need to use it if you do not have a website.

  38. lalit says

    processor – EM64T Family 6 Model 23stepping
    10Genuine intel 2826

    Plz tell me which OS to be install om my destop in Vista 32or 64 or xp 64 bit or 32 bit

  39. Missael says


    yes i download the softwere from torrent i lost the cd and i was living in az but i move to mexico so i can really buy one here because they cost aloth here more them in us. may be that the problem. the one that i download is not working well my computer laggs it freze

  40. Paul Johnson says

    is my processor a 32bit or 64 bit this is what it tells me.AMD Athlon ™ 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4400+ 2.30 GHz

  41. Missael says

    Hello My name is Missae Limon. by mistake i erase the disk so i install a new operating system and my computer is slow now. i saw that i download a 32bit windows vista i think i should have a 64 in from of my computer it said. “AMD 64 Athlon” and i saw that it was a 64 bit is this wat is making my computer slow like a turtle. one more think i dont now if it is a 32 bit the operating system so please help

    Please help

    • says

      Hi there Missael
      A bad install could make your computer slower. Also a downloaded version of Windows, is this from Microsoft? If not that could be the problem also…If you did have 64 bit installed on your computer previously and have installed 32 bit now you will notice the computer slow down but not like a turtle. 64 bit computers can have 32 bit OS software on them but they do not perform as fast as they possibly could.

  42. corrector says

    Just wanna correct this statement.

    “If you have a 64 bit processor and a 64 bit operating system you will have to have 64-bit software applications like office programs, picture editors, and so on..”

    If you have 64bit hardware and 64 bit OS, you can run 64bit & 32bit software.


  43. Maria says

    Thank you from someone who also stumbled upon a Microsoft download that wanted the same information. IK was clueless, but typed in the question in Google and crossed my fingers. Your answer was perfect!

  44. Gracie says

    I’ve recently bought a Toshiba Satellite L650. During installation process I was prompted to choose between 32 bit and 64 bit. Because I wasn’t sure which one to choose, I chose 32 bit. Now that I’ve done some research, found out the laptop is capable of running 64bit (4G RAM). How can I change it to 64bit?

    • says

      I guess you will have to install 64 bit Windows (Operating system) instead of the 32 bit OS you are using now. $$

  45. Jen W says

    Thank you for this. I love the internet. I have no idea, though, why Microsoft can’t answer this question for itself when I am downloading their software. Or why you would identify a 32 bit system with the number 86.

  46. Adrian says

    Need you advice. I will be getting a 64bit processor system.
    If i were to install XP 32bit OS, the system will run at 32bit standard? will be go faster since i am having 64bit processor? will i be able to run/intall 64bit application onto the 32bit xp OS?

    • says

      If you are going to install 32bit Windows then you will need 32 bit software too…If you install 64 bit Windows it will run faster as that is what it is made for.