What is the difference between RAM/memory and storage or flash/disk drives?

While both store data, RAM or the system/main memory is used for running programs (like apps and the Operating System) quickly and reliably, while storage/drives read and write on disks or "flash" chips and such for long term storage - even without power, at a slower rate. The former is usually smaller in capacity and temporarily holds data, but is quick and should allow rewrites and resets far more, easily many trillions every day for years, before wearing out. The latter usually has more space and can keep what's written for as long as needed offline, easily years, but takes more time reading and writing to. Some storage/drive tech like solid state/flash cannot have its bit or byte "cells" changed as many times (often hundreds or thousands) without becoming stuck or worn out.

More RAM/memory can allow more and bigger programs to run at a time, while more storage space would allow more software and data (like files from images to documents) to be saved. Higher RAM can also help prevent slowdowns too, as computers often start using the main drives for "virtual memory" once RAM space becomes too scarce (albeit temporarily) - this resulting in severe slowdowns, as running programs may have to pause longer while the drives "seek" the data to read or change.

Last update on 2023-03-07 by DNC admin.

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