The Difference Between Memory and Storage

Memory vs. Storage

The concept of memory vs storage has a slight yet significant difference than what most Brainpeople are used to. Usually when people think of the two, they associate it with the brain. In a nutshell, you see, hear, taste, feel, or taste something and it is a memory, which gets put into storage. Simple enough, right?

Well, for computers, it’s whole different story.

When referring to memory, it is usually associated with the computer’s RAM. When referring to storage, on the other hand, it is associated with the computer’s storage drive (HDD or SSD).

What is Memory?

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. This is the part of your computer that is utilized only when it is powered on, therefore it is considered your short-term data access. RAM is used when you are doing basically anything on a computer. Some examples include:

  • Running programs
  • Using your browser
  • Opening a document
  • Loading software

RAM SticksVirtually any activity done on your PC uses RAM and is only used as long as the activity is open.

Another example is looking at your task manager. When you go into the processes tab, there are all these different programs running behind the scenes on your computer. Those programs are using a portion your system’s RAM. Maybe not as heavily as programs like Photoshop, but they still utilize your RAM cache nonetheless.

All in all, you ALWAYS use RAM whenever your computer is on.

RAM consumption and its capablities can be increased, and it is recommended to do so to get the most out of your system. More RAM is not always directly increased to a faster computer, however, it does speed up and expand the amount of programs you can have running at once.

If you plan on making changes to your computer’s current RAM capacity, it is important to note the following. Most computers have a set threshold of how much GB or MB of RAM they can hold. If your memory count falls below the minimum amount permitted on your computer, you can run into some problems. The same can be said if you exceed the maximum memory allowed. So, always make sure that you have an adequate amount necessary.

What is Storage?

Storage is data that is put in a specific place on your computer, usually held by hard drives or SSDs. Whenever you have something that will be used later on in the future, your hard drive will hold on to it. Utilizing the previous example, your drives hold on to:

  • Program settings
  • Files downloaded from browser
  • Edits and saves of documents

Mostly anything you might need or your computer might need to subsequently access will be held in your drive.

In a nutshell, SSDs are storage components but hold data using flash memory. This may seem confusing hard drive, however, the difference between SSDs and RAM is that the solid state drive’s data is saved via flash storage, and that memory is differs significantly from RAM. As mentioned previously, RAM is retains its data only while the computer is on, whereas SSDs data is held even when the computer is off. That’s why it is a viable source for storing data, just like a hard drive.

Flash memory is remarkable in the fact that it has a high transfer rate. This makes it perfect for those who want speedier performance and are willing to sacrifice a bit of space.

It is a doozy when it comes to understanding how SSDs work… I know. But it is important and should not be overlooked. Check this post out for more info about SSDs, and also the differences between a hard drive and a solid state drive. The post should clear things up better, as we are only referring to the key differences between the two main components in the article.

The Bottom Line

Remember not to use memory and storage interchangably anymore because now you know that they are not the same. To help make difference clear between the two, let us pretend you’re doing a homework assignment on a word document. Whatever you do on your browser or program is saved to your RAM as long as it is open or running and your computer is on. Some may think of RAM as short term storage.  And from there, if you’re saving some homework, for example, and would want to come back to it later, then you would save it for long term storage on a drive.

Having more of both can ultimately speed up your computer, though some methods more than others. More RAM (#2) allows you to run heavier, intensive programs or more small-medium intensive programs. Conversely, more drive space allows you to save and keep more data With more free space, your computer runs faster because it is not hogged down by extraneous files. You have an extra bonus speed boost if your choice of storage is an SSD because:

More RAM + More Space for Data + SSD = Faster PC

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

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