What is the difference between RAM and memory?

A computer runs on two main types of memory: RAM and hard disk memory. Both are required for basic computer functions. RAM is short-term temporary memory, while hard disk memory is long-term memory and can be permanent.

Whenever a user presses the “save” button, a file is stored on the computer’s hard drive.

A hard drive is a computer’s storage capacity, or long-term memory, and is sometimes also called “disk space.” Storage capacity is usually measured in gigabytes (GB) and is where files are saved when a user presses the “Save” button in most applications. Inside the hard drive is a metal disk that rotates while a head writes information onto it.

The long-term memory capacity of a computer is called the hard disk.

RAM is sometimes called “memory”, which further complicates the problem. It is a computer chip that contributes to the speed of the computer and is typically measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB), depending on the size of the chip. When a user chooses to open a file, the computer must put that information somewhere in order to access it. It temporarily writes the file to RAM for easy access, and this type of memory also temporarily saves files that are currently being worked on.

A computer motherboard.

The main difference between RAM and hard disk memory is their permanence. Files stored in RAM are sent to the chip by small electrical charges that are needed to keep files intact. If the computer shuts down or crashes, electrical charges will be interrupted and files will be lost. Hard disk memory is written to disk when a program is “saved”, so these files are not lost in the event of a crash or power failure. Computer users should save their work as it is being written, as each time this is done, the file is rewritten in its new form on the hard drive.

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A RAM card.

Another big difference between these types of memory is that the RAM can be refreshed frequently. Computers have ports on the motherboard for connecting RAM chips, and in many cases these chips can be easily removed and new ones plugged in. If a user has 32 MB of RAM on his computer split between two chips, then he will have two 16 MB Chips. If she buys two 64MB chips, they can replace the old ones and give her 128MB of RAM. This small, simple upgrade is relatively inexpensive and can make a big difference to a computer’s speed and performance, although computers can typically only use certain types of RAM in specific amounts or configurations.

Adding computer RAM can allow for a larger buffer to improve media streaming.

Computer owners often want to know if they have enough RAM and memory to run a certain program. RAM will be significantly smaller in numbers than hard disk memory and is typically 128MB to 1GB. Since hard disk memory needs capacity to store significantly more files, average capacities range from 1 to 400 GB. Individual programs will list the RAM and disk space needed to run effectively.

Adding RAM – or random access memory – to your computer can increase its performance.

If the computer shuts down or crashes, files stored in RAM may be lost.

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