Home » Blog » A look into computer memory vs storage A look into computer memory vs storage

Computer memory and storage are often used interchangeably though they mean two different aspects. As both memory and storage handle data, there is confusion between the two terms. There is a major difference between their functionality, purpose, and impact on the overall performance. When you look into computer memory vs storage, you can determine the differences with respect to key functions. When a CPU requires data for performing a particular action, it can access it from computer memory. The difference lies in the amount of time for data access.

Computer memory is a short-term type memory that stores the instructions for a short while. On the other hand, storage can save data on a long-term basis. As a temporary form of storage, computer memory is active as long as the computer system is on. When the system is shut off, it loses the computer memory. While storage is not dependent on the power supply. Storage is a permanent form that holds the data as long as the lifespan of the system.

Understanding computer memory vs storage 

RAM or computer memory can be considered as the main memory that handles day-to-day operations. When you open a file, the CPU can access the data from the computer memory. This data is stored in the hard drive or storage. The CPU first approaches the storage or hard drive. It picks the data from there and puts into the computer memory. As long as the processor is working on the particular program, it can take the data from the memory. Memory has much faster processing speed as compared to hard drive. If CPU depended on the storage for processing applications, it would take a long time. Faster processing of computer memory allows the processor to handle multiple applications as and when required.

Volatile vs non-volatile memory

The major difference between computer memory vs storage is the role of handling data. RAM can be considered as your workspace that holds the current application as long as you are using it. For example, if you browse the internet and open a website, the computer memory provides this information and stays active with the application. If you decide to switch to another task, the computer memory can offer enough space to make it happen. RAM is therefore a volatile form of storage. It does not stay forever but only while working on current programs. If you have a computer memory with adequate capacity, you can expect to run multiple programs. 

Storage is either in the form of hard disk drive or solid state drive. It records the data necessary for all the applications and programs. Hard drive also stores databases, files, media, images, videos, and other details. It is a non-volatile form of storage that stays as long as the data is not deleted permanently. 

Computer memory vs storage: what is computer memory?

Computer memory or RAM is the component that stores memory for a short span. It consists of computer chips that hold the data. The computer chips or integrated circuits are either directly fitted into the main logic board of the computer or inserted into the motherboard in the form of separate memory modules. RAM stands for random access memory. The key feature of RAM is fast processing speed in milliseconds. Due to the fast processing speed, the CPU can obtain the instructions at the earliest. 

In order to take advantage of computer memory for faster performance, it is necessary to check the clock speed and capacity. Also, if the RAM has overclockability, you can increase clock speed to boost speed. When you opt for a RAM with processing speed of around 2400MHz and capacity of 500GB, you can extract many benefits for multi-tasking. Different applications consume different space on the RAM. Intensive activities such as video editing, image editing, gaming, and other activities may consume large streams of data. On the other hand, light activities like web browsing or working on a Microsoft word or Excel may consume less memory. Many background processes also requires memory. 

Role of RAM

The random-access nature implies that the data is in a random manner. The computer memory vs storage points to the difference in the form of storage. Storage or hard disk has sequential arrangement of data. For example, files or folders store the data. While computer memory or RAM has a random nature of data storage. 

If you experience a significant delay or slower processing, you may benefit by adding more memory. Due to insufficient memory, you may not be able to open all the applications. It may also pose difficulty while shifting from one program to the other. You can sell your used memory and replace it with a newer upgrade that has benefits of speed and capacity. 

What is storage?

As a permanent form of storage that keeps all the data intact, hard drive or storage is extremely essential. It stores everything that is necessary for basic functioning of the system. For example, it has operating system and files. Since storage can retain the data even after the system is turned off, you would not have to reload the programs each time you start the system. It is a permanent form of safe-keeping that retains the data forever. If hard disk drive offers storage space, it can offer a large capacity.

HDDs or hard disk drive have exceptional storage capacity for all major databases. The other form of storage that is the most recent version and delivers excellent benefits such as faster processing speed is the solid state drive or SSD. SSDs have integrated circuits or flash memory chips that make it much faster than HDDs. You can replace the used HDD with newer SSDs to increase the performance and productivity. 

Storage is much slower than memory. As a mechanical device, it cannot offer the same processing capability as the memory. While understanding computer memory vs speed, you realize that the functionality and role divides them into two separate categories. Both computer memory and storage are necessary for the CPU. While one represents short-term storage, it can attend to the multiple applications and ensure processing of the current activities. Storage can ensure that there is adequate space for all your files and databases.