What’s the difference between memory and storage?
Today in Ken’s Corner, we’ll look at one of the most common questions: What’s the difference between memory and storage?
The term “memory” refers to the part of your computer that actually gets used in the performance of tasks. You may recognize the term RAM, or “random access memory.” Your computer performs many operations by accessing data stored in its short-term memory. Editing a document, loading applications, and browsing the internet all happen by using that memory. The speed and performance of your system depend a great deal on the amount of memory that is installed on your computer. The more you have, the faster it goes.
Storage is where the data goes when it’s not in use. It remains in your computer on a long-term basis until it’s called into use by your computer to make changes using the system’s memory. Storage usually comes in the form of what’s called a hard disc drive, or increasingly these days, a solid-state drive. Your computer’s applications, operating system, and files are kept in your storage for an indefinite period. Computers need to write information and read it from the storage system so the speed of the storage determines how fast your system can boot up, load and access what you’ve saved. Contrary to popular belief, the amount of data you have in storage generally does not affect the speed it operates at.
An important distinction between memory and storage is memory clears when the computer is turned off. If you’ve ever typed a document on a computer, you’ve probably learned the hard way if you don’t save your document (which writes the document to your storage) before you turn off your system, it won’t be there when you turn it back on. On the other hand, storage remains intact no matter how many times you shut off your computer.