Friday, October 26, 2007

Computer Parts: Hard Drive vs. RAM


In conversations with some people who aren't computer savvy they sometimes confuse RAM with hard drive numbers, especially with trying to tell you how much they have. I hate trying to correct them immediately but rather try and receive the whole message. I'm going to try and explain the difference between the two.

Most personal computers and laptops come equipped with at least one hard drive. You can add more if you like to PC's providing they have additional bays to hold them . If not you have to use a an external drive. I think these days most PC's come with at least 80 gigabytes(or more) of storage. They come with different interfaces SCSI, IDE (PATA) or Serial(SATA). SCSI is mainly used in high end servers for businesses due to higher cost. IDE(PATA) was the standard for many years but is now being overtaken by Serial(SATA) interface.

The job of the hard drive is mainly storage. When not being used this is where all your programs(aka: applications) are stored. Also all your cute pictures, videos and other documents are stored. It also stores your operating system (Windows XP etc...). It's an essential part of the computer and couldn't live without it. That's why it's always important to backup your documents. Programs can usually be installed again but it's harder to replace those pictures of the family and so on. Think of the hard drive as a file cabinet with all your important documents.

RAM(Random Access Memory) is the space your computer works with. Think of it as a desktop where you can spread out all your work. It pulls out stuff from the hard drive(file cabinet) and places it on your desktop(your screen or runs program). Programs or documents are only stored temporarily in RAM. When the program, document or computer is closed or shut off the memory is wiped clean. Windows XP usually runs nice with at least 512 megabytes and Vista 1 gigabyte(1024 megabytes) or more.

Basically the the hard drive is more or less permanent storage vs. RAM which is temporary storage. I hope this helps some novices who are accidentally confused with all these numbers. It can be useful when trying to explain a problem or trying to understand the technical jargon when purchasing a computer. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again.

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robert plumer said...

Glad you liked it. Thank you.