32-bit vs 64-bit Office: Which One Should I Install?

If you’re installing Microsoft Office on your computer, you will be given an option to install a 32-bit or a 64-bit version. If you are unsure about which one is right for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit Office. We will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each one to help you better decide which one you need.

You should note that after the 2019 release of Office, Microsoft has been recommending that everyone install their 64-bit version. This is unless your system specifically requires that you use 32-bit.

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

For us to understand the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Office, we need to first understand how they differ on your operating system.

CPU Register

computer motherboard with rams on it

The main difference between 32-bit and 64-bit is their CPU register. In other words, that is the amount of data it can queue up to process at once.

A 32-bit system can only use a maximum of 4GB RAM at a time. That is a relatively small amount of RAM for a computer today. Your smartphone might even support more RAM than that.

This does not mean, however, that 32-bit systems are obsolete. There are still a lot of computers running 32-bit systems. Most software does not require more than 4GB of RAM at a time, so a 32-bit system will work for most things.

A 64-bit system, on the other hand, can handle a lot more RAM than 32-bit. One thing to note is that every single bit isn’t directly proportional, so it doesn’t mean that 64-bit can handle only twice as much RAM. In fact, the increase is exponential.

Theoretically, a 64-bit system can handle up to 16.7 million terabytes. You can almost say it can handle an unlimited amount of RAM.

A 64-bit system can also handle RAM more efficiently. So if you only have 4GB of RAM on a 64-bit system, it will still work better than a 32-bit system with the same amount of RAM.

Security

When it comes to security, a 64-bit system has the advantage. It is a newer system with enhanced security features that are missing in 32-bit systems. Let’s briefly go over some of these new security features.

Driver Signature Enforcement

All drivers have to be signed by a legitimate manufacturer before it can work in any 64-bit environment. Software or drivers that are not officially signed will be blocked.

Driver signature enforcement will protect you from software and drivers that are potentially malware. This new security feature can save you from all kinds of information theft, computer viruses and more.

internet security screen

Patchguard

Patchguard is a very important feature when you want to avoid system failure from modifications on your computer’s kernel, or core. It prevents all programs and drivers from patching or making unwanted modifications. 

Data Execution Prevention

This feature works similarly to the previous ones, but is more focused on blocking malicious programs from modifying RAM data.

Who should use the 64-bit Office?

Anyone whose system allows it should use the 64-bit version of Office. The main advantage of using the 64-bit version is that you can use as much RAM as you need. The 32-bit version can only use about 2GB of RAM at a time.

This will especially be helpful if you’re working with heavy worksheets or documents with a lot of multimedia items. PowerPoint presentations containing animations and video clips will be a lot smoother using the 64-bit version.

Outlook is the only program in Office that will remain the same whether you’re using the 32-bit or the 64-bit version when it comes to performance.

Another advantage of using the 64-bit version is the security features mentioned above. This version of Office will be able to integrate much better with those security features.

Who should use the 32-bit Office?

The main reason many people are still using the 32-bit version of Office is because of compatibility issues.

A lot of plugins and addons that were developed in the earlier years of Office are not compatible with the 64-bit version of Office.

If you use a lot of plugins and addons, you need to make sure they are all compatible with 64-bit before deciding which version to install.

Also, if your computer runs a 32-bit operating system, you’re left with no choice but to get the 32-bit version of Office.

How to check if my office version is 32-bit or 64-bit?

To check which version of Office you are currently running, you simply need to find the About section of any of your Office programs.

Open either Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook and click File on the top left corner. The next step will depend on the version of Office you are running.

For Office 2010 and older, select Help, About, and then Additional Version and Copyright Information. After clicking that, a dialogue box will open.

It will contain information about the version of Office you are running. You’ll see information such as the build number, MSO, as well as whether your version is 32-bit or 64-bit.

If you’re using Office 2013, 2016, 2019, or Office 365, select Office Account after clicking File. Then select About Word (or whichever program you’re running) and a similar dialogue box will open containing all the information you need.

How to Upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Office?

Unfortunately, as of writing, there is no one-click way to upgrade your Office from 32-bit to 64-bit. You will have to manually uninstall your Office by going to your control panel and selecting Programs and Features.

After you successfully uninstall your 32-bit version of Office, you can then download and install the 64-bit version.

Where should I download the 32-bit and 64-bit Office?

The safest place to download any Office programs is the official Microsoft Office website. Their latest version is Office 365. You can find it in either 32-bit or 64-bit on their website.

There are other websites that allow you to download legitimate Office copies, but it’s always better to get it from the manufacturer’s website.

Conclusion

As we’ve just seen, there are more reasons why you should get the 64-bit version of Office rather than the 32-bit version. You will get better performance and security with the 64-bit version.

However, if your system does not support 64-bit programs or you have Office plugins and add-ons that don’t work in 64-bit, then you should go with the 32-bit version of Office.

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