Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Operating Systems

In computing, a byte is the unit of data and processing of data is generally denoted as bit processing. In general purpose personal computers, there exist two types of processors namely a 32-bit processor and a 64-bit processor. Based on the type of processor architecture, the computer systems are also of two types – some are using a 32-bit operating system and some are using a 64-bit operating system.

The fundamental difference between a 32-bit system and a 64-bit system is in their capability to handle the amount of information, where the 32-bit operating system handles less data as compared the 64-bit operating system.

Read this article to find out more about 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and how they are different from each other.

What is a 32-Bit Operating System?

A 32-bit operating system is a type of computer configuration which is capable of processing 32-bits of data at a time. A computer system with a 32-bit operating system have 4 GB addressable space. The 32-bit operating system is limited to 3.2 GB RAM.

Computer systems with 32-bit operating system are ideal for general tasks; they cannot be used for stress tasking and multitasking.

What is a 64-Bit Operating System?

A 64-bit operating system is another type of computer configuration that is capable of processing 64-bits of data at a time. Thus, a 64-bit operating system based computer system can process or transmit 64-bits in parallel. A computer system with 64-bit operating system allows to process data and memory address which are represented by 64 bits.

A 64-bit OS based system has 16 Exabyte addressable spaces. It can support up to 17 billion GB of RAM. However, a 64-bit operating system can only run on a 64-bit processor. A 64-bit system is ideal for stress tasting and multitasking.

Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Operating Systems

The following table highlights all the key differences between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems −


32-bit OS

64-bit OS

Data and storage handling.

32-bit OS handle and store less data as compared to 64 bit OS. More specifically, 32-bit OS can address a maximum of 4 GB of RAM

64-bit OS can handle more data than 32 bit OS, in numbers, it can address 264 memory addresses, i.e., actually 18-Quintillion GB of RAM.

System compatibility.

A system with a 64-bit processor can run either of a 64-bit or 32-bit version of an operating system installed.

Systems with a 32-bit processor could run 32 bit OS properly but 64-bit OS would not run at its full capability.


In terms of performance, a 32-bit processor is less efficient as compared to a 64-bit processor.

A 64-bit processor is more recommended for multitasking and other heavy application execution due to its high performance as compared to a 32-bit processor.

Architecture and Software

32-bit operating system based systems can process 32-bits of data simultaneously.

64-bit operating system based systems can process 64-bits of data simultaneously.

Check the Version of Operating System in Windows

Click on Start icon-search/type system in the Start Search box, and then click system in the Programs list. The operating system is displayed as follows: For a 64-bit version operating system, 64-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System. For a 32-bit version operating system, 32-bit Operating System appears for the System type under System.

Updated on: 11-Jan-2023

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