What Is RAM Memory Used for?

By John Wu

In computers, total memory consists of two parts. The first part is RAM memory, where data is stored on a memory module to save and retrieve data quickly. The second part is virtual memory, where data is stored on the much slower hard drive instead of RAM memory. The lower the amount of RAM memory, the slower the computer will run.


RAM memory is stored on an integrated circuit memory module. The memory modules allows the computer to save and retrieve data and programs quickly.


Virtual memory extends the available memory on the computer by using the hard drive as data storage. Hard drives save and retrieve data much slower than RAM memory.


Data and running programs residing in virtual memory but needed by the computer are moved to RAM memory. Data and programs no longer needed are moved from RAM memory to virtual memory. This process, called "swapping," slows the computer significantly if it's overused.


On high-performance servers and workstations, enough RAM memory is installed so that all programs on a computer runs entirely on RAM memory without ever using virtual memory.


If the computer is running slowly with a high amount of usage in virtual memory, installation of extra RAM memory could make the computer run much faster.