Within your computer, memory is separated into two categories. The first is RAM memory – this is where data is temporarily stored to be retrieved quickly. The second is virtual memory – this is where data is stored long-term, on the hard drive. The lower the RAM, the slower the computer will run.
Are memory and storage the same?
The two components that 'memory' & 'storage' refer to are RAM and the hard drive. Your computer’s main memory – usually referred to as RAM – is the place where an application loads its data during processing.
RAM allows you to access data that is stored for a short time – like when editing a document. A hard drive is a device that permanently stores your data so that you can access it at any time.
What is RAM and how does it work?
RAM is a hardware device that allows data to be temporarily stored for your computer to process it. RAM – which stands for Random Access Memory – is made up of memory chips that can be written (and rewritten) with your data, at high speed.
Unlike your hard drive, RAM only holds onto that data while the chip is powered – specifically, while your computer is switched on – and is not a long-term form of storage.
Essentially, RAM is the memory that allows you to work with the data needed to run programs and open files. When your computer loads a program or file, it opens data in RAM. Your operating system also relies on RAM when it’s running. If you want to run a program, RAM moves the data from long-term storage (on your hard drive) to short-term storage in RAM, where it can be accessed fast enough for smooth operation.
How much RAM do I need?
If you’re wondering how much RAM you need, 8GB,16GB and 32GB are the general options. If you’re struggling to choose, consider what you generally use your computer for and do some research. If you’re an avid gamer, for example, 16GB is considered the sweet spot – although you could get by on 8GB.
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