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CRUCIAL.COM: 250k upgrades for 50k systems… but how?

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Posted June 13, 2011 by Kevin in News

For nearly 15 years, Crucial.com has been helping people to find 100% guaranteed compatible upgrades for their systems – largely through award-winning, free online Crucial Memory Advisor™ tool and the Crucial System Scanner tools. The power of Crucial.com’s online tools lies in a robust system compatibility database that currently includes more than 50,000 different computer models and counting – this figure has grown by approximately 18% each year for the last 5 years!

Just how does Crucial.com maintain such a vast database of systems – systems that range from older SDRAM systems up to the latest systems supporting DDR3? The answer lies in the in-depth computer industry expertise and superb technical knowledge of Crucial.com’s people – not to mention their passion and enthusiasm for helping customers to find the right upgrade. Today we’d like to introduce one of those people: Crucial.com Product Compatibility Analyst Thomas Thor. Here is little bit about his background and the extensive process he goes through to make customers’ upgrade choices a simple and easy task.

Q1. Thomas, when did you start working with Crucial, and how long have you been in your current role?

A. I’ve been with Crucial going on 12 years (Oct. 2011 is my 12-year anniversary). I started in our Technical Support Department, moved into the Compatibility Lab, and accepted the Memory Advisor position 6 years ago.

Q2. For those customers who haven’t heard of Crucial.com before, or who may not have used our online tools, can you please tell us briefly a little bit about Crucial.com and how the online tools can help them?

A. Certainly. Crucial.com is a leading online computer memory upgrade destination, which provides a vast selection of memory solutions ranging from RAM modules suitable for laptops, desktops and servers, as well as offering top-of-the-range storage devices such as solid-state drives (SSD) aimed at the consumer market. The Crucial.com website offers our customers a 100% guaranteed-compatible memory upgrade, with Crucial®-branded DRAM products for general consumers, as well as Crucial Ballistix® high-performance products for the more niche enthusiast gaming market.

The online tools at Crucial.com take the guesswork out of finding a compatible upgrade for your laptop or PC. The Crucial Memory Advisor™ tool allows our customers to find the correct upgrade by going through a very simple 3-step process:

By selecting their System Manufacturer (e.g. Dell)
By selecting their Product line (e.g. Dimensions)
By selecting their model number (e.g. 2400 Series)

It really can’t be any simpler than that! Once a customer has gone through this simple process, they are presented with our guaranteed-compatible upgrades. Take a look here to see an example of what this looks like. And for those people who don’t know their systems details, then the Crucial System Scanner will scan the system for its specs. Once the scan is complete, the customer is presented with the following information:

Amount and type of RAM already installed
Number of memory slots already filled with RAM
Number of free slots available for upgrade
Upgrade options available to the customer

My role as Product Compatibility Analyst at Crucial.com is to help our customers find the best upgrade solution for their systems, and ensure that their choice of upgrade is 100% guaranteed compatible, and that they experience a simple, hassle-free process. My responsibility is matching up the compatibility of our memory upgrades to customers’ systems, and to ensure we keep the Crucial Memory Advisor tool as up to date as possible with as many systems listed as possible. The more systems we have listed, the more customers we can help.

Q3. Bearing your last comment in mind, how many systems are currently listed in Crucial.com’s database, and how have you seen this grow over the years?

A. Currently, the number of systems listed in the Crucial.com database sits at above 50,000, with over 2,000 new systems added since the start of 2011 (The Crucial Memory Advisor has the majority of these listed online. However, due to age, memory technology used, and special OEM programs, some are omitted from the website). Last year, we added a grand total of 16,166 new systems, averaging out at 1,347 per month. As you can see from these figures, we really do aim at keeping the database topped up with as many systems as possible.

Q4. How do you decide which systems to add, and what is the actual process of gathering all the needed technical data?

A. We leverage our strong industry relationships and use a variety of data sources to closely monitor developments in the computer manufacturing sector. When a computer manufacturer launches a new system, we set to work researching its specifications for compatibility matching purposes. We generally have a pretty short lead time between a new system being launched and it being added to our database. Data from our Crucial System Scanner tool is also used to identify and profile additional systems that we don’t already feature in the database.

We have to be very knowledgeable about the technology being used in the system and our product in order to make a compatible match. We have the ability to match “module builds” to the correct systems, so our customers do not have to do the research. We know which technology, density of a module, speed, configuration, etc. works in a system and which one will not. Behind the scenes, we fine-tune these product matches to systems so it is seamless to our customers. This also allows us to offer our 100% compatibility guarantee.

Q5. Do you ever get customers saying that their system isn’t listed, or the scan didn’t produce any results? If so, what is done to help these customers?

A. Yes, from time to time this does happen, and it’s at times like these we aim at improving our service by investigating and filling in the gaps. For the Crucial System Scanner, after a scan has been completed, it will show either a match or an unknown, a “We’re sorry, no match found” page. We run daily reports that list all the unknown matches and manually research them to create a known match. If we know a model’s technical specification and we do not have an exact system match (a brand new chipset is released, as an example) we are able to create a new model within the Crucial Memory Advisor tool and have it become a match. This gives us time to research all models that may have been released with that technology while still providing an upgrade path for our users.

Q6. It certainly sounds like your job keeps you busy, and sounds like it’s a job you enjoy doing?

A. I personally have approximately 20 years experience with computer hardware. I don’t believe I have a job, but rather a passion for making sure things are done right the first time. I am a consumer myself, and when I find a company I can trust to provide the product I’m looking for, I become very loyal. So I strive for our customers to have that same experience with Crucial.com every single day.

We’d like to thank Thomas for taking the time out of his very busy day to tell us just a little bit about what he does for Crucial.com, and demonstrate how his enthusiasm and expertise contributes to the overall effectiveness of Crucial Memory Advisor™ tool and the Crucial System Scanner tools. Our tools would be nothing without the passion, expertise, and talent of the people behind them.


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