Computer memory is any physical device capable of storing information temporarily or permanently. For example, Random Access Memory (RAM), is a type of volatile memory that is stores information on an integrated circuit, and that is used by the operating system, software, hardware, or the user. Below is an example picture of a 512MB DIMM computer memory module.
Volatile vs. non-volatile memory
Memory can be either volatile and non-volatile memory. Volatile memory is a temporary memory that loses its contents when the computer or hardware device loses power. Computer RAM is a good example of a volatile memory and is why if your computer freezes or reboots when working on a program you lose anything that hasn't been saved. Non-volatile memory, sometimes abbreviated as NVRAM, is memory that keeps its contents even if the power is lost. EPROM is a good example of a non-volatile memory.
Memory is not disk storage
It is very common for new computer users to be confused by what parts in the computer are memory. Although both the hard drive and RAM are considered memory, it is more appropriate to refer to RAM as "memory" or "primary memory" and a hard drive as "storage" or "secondary storage" and not memory.
When a program such as your Internet browser is open, it is loaded from your hard drive and placed into RAM, which allows that program to communicate with the processor at higher speeds. Anything you save to your computer such as a picture or video is sent to your hard drive for storage.
When someone asks how much memory is in your computer, it is likely between 1GB and 8GB of Random Access Memory (RAM) and several hundred Gigs of hard disk drive memory (storage). In other words, You will almost always have more hard drive space than RAM.
- Determining how much RAM is installed and available.
- Determining available hard drive space.
- Memory buying tips
- Computer memory help and support.