What is RAM?
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data in current use are kept so they can be quickly reached by the device’s processor. RAM is the main memory in a computer. It is much faster to read from and write to than other kinds of storage, such as a hard disk drive (HDD), solid-state drive (SSD) or optical drive.
Random Access Memory is volatile. That means data is retained in RAM as long as the computer is on, but it is lost when the computer is turned off. When the computer is rebooted, the OS and other files are reloaded into RAM, usually from an HDD or SSD.
Function of RAM
Because of its volatility, RAM can’t store permanent data. RAM can be compared to a person’s short-term memory, and a hard disk drive to a person’s long-term memory. Short-term memory is focused on immediate work, but it can only keep a limited number of facts in view at any one time. When a person’s short-term memory fills up, it can be refreshed with facts stored in the brain’s long-term memory.
A computer also works this way. If RAM fills up, the computer’s processor must repeatedly go to the hard disk to overlay the old data in RAM with new data. This process slows the computer’s operation.