What Is Natural 64-bit Software?

How it differs from other software

A piece of software that is naturally 64-bit, or simply 64-bit, means that it will only run if the operating system it's installed on is a 64-bit operating system.

When a software developer or company calls out the fact that a particular program is naturally 64-bit, it means the program was written to take advantage of the benefits of a 64-bit operating system, such as Windows 11.

How Do You Tell if a Program Is Naturally 64-Bit?

The natural 64-bit version of a software program will sometimes be labeled as the x64 version, or more rarely as the x86-64 version.

If a program doesn't mention anything about it being 64-bit, you can almost guarantee it's a 32-bit program.

Most software is 32-bit, is rarely explicitly labeled as such, and will run equally well on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

In some Windows versions, you can use Task Manager to check which actively running programs are 64-bit. You're told next to the program name in the Image Name column of the Processes tab.

Some applications will tell you somewhere within the program itself, like in an About or Help section.

Should You Choose Natural 64-bit Software When Possible?

Yes, you should, if, of course, you're running a 64-bit operating system. Chances are, assuming the program was well-designed, the 64-bit version will run faster and generally perform better than the 32-bit one.

However, there aren't many reasons to completely avoid using a program just because it's only available as a 32-bit application. 

Updating, Uninstalling, and Reinstalling 64-Bit Software

Just like with 32-bit applications, 64-bit programs can be updated manually by downloading the update from the program's official website (and maybe others). You might also be able to update or reinstall a 64-bit program with a free software updater tool.

7-zip download options

Some websites will automatically download the 64-bit version if you're running a 64-bit version of Windows. However, other websites may give you the option between the 32-bit and the 64-bit download.

Even though 64-bit applications may be different from 32-bit ones, they're still uninstalled in the same way. You can remove a 64-bit program with a free uninstaller tool or from within Control Panel in Windows.

More Information on 64-Bit and 32-Bit Software

32-bit versions of Windows can only reserve 2 GB of memory for a process to run. This means more memory can be used at once if you're running a 64-bit application (which can only run on a 64-bit OS, which doesn't have the 2 GB limitation). This is why they can provide more power and features than their 32-bit counterparts.

Natural 64-bit software isn't as common as 32-bit software because the developer has to make sure that the program code can correctly execute and run on a 64-bit operating system, which means they have to make changes to the 32-bit version.

However, remember that 32-bit versions of programs can run just fine on a 64-bit operating system, as you don't have to use 64-bit applications exclusively just because you're using a 64-bit operating system. Also, remember that the opposite is not true, as you can not run a 64-bit piece of software on a 32-bit operating system.

  • How do I install 32-bit software on 64-bit Windows?

    To allow 32-bit software installation on 64-bit Windows, navigate to Control Panel > Programs and select Turn Windows Features On or Off. Select Internet Information Services > OK. Next, search for and select Internet Information Services, double-click Desktop > Application pools. Right-click Default Application Pool > Advanced Settings; under General, select Enable 32-Bit Applications > True > OK.

  • What's the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit software?

    When it comes to 32-bit vs. 64-bit software, it's about processing power. A 64-bit program can use RAM more effectively, and it's generally considered more secure and faster than a 32-bit program. On the other hand, 32-bit software can use only limited RAM.

  • Can I convert 64-bit software to 32-bit?

    No. While a programmer can rewrite a 64-bit program as a 32-bit program, there's no way for an end-user to convert it. Some 32-bit programs will run fine on 64-bit platforms, but 64-bit software can't run on a 32-bit platform.

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