What is Computer Memory (RAM) and What Does It Do?

Not sure exactly what computer memory is for or how it works? Find out below why computer memory is necessary to run your computer and what it does.  

What is computer memory (RAM)?

Computer memory or random access memory (RAM) is your system’s short-term data storage; it stores the information your computer is actively using so that it can be accessed quickly. The more programs your system is running, the more memory you’ll need. 

What is RAM used for?

RAM allows your computer to perform many of its everyday tasks, such as loading applications, browsing the internet, editing a spreadsheet, or experiencing the latest game. Memory also allows you to switch quickly among these tasks, remembering where you are in one task when you switch to another task. As a rule, the more memory you have, the better.

Computer parts and social icons

 

When you turn on your computer and open a spreadsheet to edit it, but first check your email, you’ll have used memory in several different ways. Memory is used to load and run applications, such as your spreadsheet program, respond to commands, such as any edits you made in the spreadsheet, or toggle between multiple programs, such as when you left the spreadsheet to check email. Memory is almost always being actively used by your computer.

In a way, memory is like your desk. It allows you to work on a variety of projects, and the larger your desk, the more papers, folders, and tasks you can have out at one time. You can quickly and easily access the information without going to a filing cabinet (your storage drive). When you’re finished with a project, or leaving for the day, you can put some or all the projects in the filing cabinet for safekeeping. Your storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) is the filing cabinet that works with your desk to track your projects.

If your system is slow or unresponsive, a memory upgrade is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve performance. Think your computer would benefit from more memory? Find out more about the signs your computer might need more memory.


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