Computer Memory Vs. Storage

Computer memory and computer storage are important aspects of computers. Often times, computer memory and computer storage can be confused with each other. However, they are both completely different components of computers with completely different purposes. To better understand computer memory versus computer storage, you must know the basics of what each one does and how it functions.

Computer Memory Vs. Storage

Computer Memory

Notebook RAM Chip

A computer's memory is most commonly referred to as RAM. RAM stands for random access memory. Computer RAM memory is measured in megabytes and gigabytes. Most computers can handle, at most, between 1GB and 8GB of RAM memory. As far as hardware in concerned, RAM memory is just a simple computer chip that plugs into your computer's motherboard.

Computer Memory Purpose

Desktop RAM Chip

Computer memory, or RAM, is used by your computer for instant storage. Your computer needs instant storage to allow applications and processes to run up to speed. Computer RAM is always changing based on your latest computer tasks. For example, when you run an application such as iTunes, every time you click on a song to play it, that information is being stored to your computer's RAM. The total amount of information that can be stored to RAM is based on how much RAM you have. If you have 2GB of RAM installed on your computer, your computer can store up to 2GB of information to instant memory. RAM is also used by your computer for multi-tasking. When you are multi-tasking, you are using multiple programs at once. RAM stores information about all programs that you are using to help them to run faster. RAM memory is reset each time that your computer is restarted. So, if you were to use iTunes, then restart your computer, iTunes would no longer be in your computer's RAM. However, each application that you work with after restart would again start storing information to the RAM.

Computer Storage

Computer storage is different from RAM in that it is permanent high-capacity memory. Computer storage takes place within your computer's hard drive. Computer storage and hard drive capacity is measured in gigabytes. For example, you may have a 250GB hard drive on your computer. This is the total capacity of your computer. You cannot store more than 250GB worth of files and applications unless you add more storage.

Computer Storage Purpose

Inside of a Hard Drive

Computer storage, or hard drives, are used to store everything on your computer. For example, if you were to install Microsoft Word on your computer from an install disc, you could then use Microsoft Word whenever you want. You would not have to insert the Microsoft Word disc to use the application, because that application is now completely stored on your hard drive. Hard drives are not used for instant storage but rather long-term storage. Once something is written to the hard drive, it will stay there until it is manually deleted by a computer user. Hard drive memory will not reset because of a computer restart or anything of that nature.

Computer Memory and Computer Storage

Computer RAM memory and computer hard drive storage actually work in combination with each other. Whenever you add a file or application to your computer, it is saved to the hard drive. Whenever you go to access or run that file from the hard drive, the actual process of using the application is then stored to the computer's RAM.