One of the most important parts of a computer is its installed RAM. It is the working memory, which holds all the vital information that's required for its functioning. Windows users will have no clue about what zapping the PRAM is, as it is a feature which is endemic to Mac OS X, with no direct equivalent on Windows-based machines. Mac hardware and Mac OS X are custom-built for each other.
What is PRAM?
Like the Windows registry, there are several settings that need to be saved on OS X. PRAM stands for 'Parameter Random Access Memory'. This contains various details, which are related to the functioning of the computer. It is stored as a part of the NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory).
The settings that are stored in it, include video and display settings, screen resolution, refresh rate, choice of start up volume, information about the kernel panic if any, and settings for DVD region. The stored details may vary, according to the computer and the devices attached to it. If your computer undergoes any firmware upgrades, it will undergo a PRAM zapping automatically.
By zapping, I mean restoring it to the normal settings. You will have to reset the time settings after it's done. It is recommended that you do this once a year.
When should you go for the procedure? If you notice that there are problems while booting of the computer or if it is delayed, then you must go for it. It will restore any of the corrupted settings, back to normal. The procedure is extremely simple as you will see in the following lines.
To zap PRAM, you need to hit a key combination while rebooting. Check the following keys on your Mac computer keyboard. Look for the 'Command' and 'Option' key, as well as the 'P' and 'R' letter keys. You will have to press them all simultaneously to get it done.
To begin zapping, first, shut down the computer. Once you have ensured that it has shut down properly, start it again. As soon as you switch it on and even before the gray screen of OS X appears, you must hit the 'Command + Option + P + R' combination simultaneously and hold it down. Pressing the keys will restart the computer again. Hold the keys down until you listen to the computer starting up again. Then release them. When the computer starts, its PRAM and NVRAM will have been restored to normal settings. In some cases, you will find that the time settings on your Mac will need to be set up again.
Zapping ensures that all the corrupted settings, if any, are restored to the original condition. It is a good practice, as it ensures that your computer functionality is maintained to be top-notch.