Journey though Your PC - RAM

Today is part four of our journey through your computer and we’re covering computer memory, or RAM (Random Access Memory).  Many people mix up computer memory with hard drive storage (see last fortnights edition for info on your hard drive).  Both are measured in gigabytes these days so its understandable.  Whilst your hard drive is where all of your data is stored, RAM is used only when your PC is turned on.  RAM provides space for your computer to read and write data to be accessed by the CPU (central processing unit), and contains whatever you happen to be working on at that moment.  A good analogy is your office desk.  Think of the surface of your desk as your computer’s memory/ RAM, and your filing cabinet as your hard drive storage.  As you need to work on something you take it out of the filing cabinet and put it on your desk.  It’s far quicker to reach for that other document from part of your desk than having to open the filing cabinet every time you need to look at a different page.  But just like your desk space, you can run out of RAM if you have too many things open.  Putting things you haven’t used for a while back into your filing cabinet is what your computer does too, moving stuff from RAM onto the hard drive (to an area called the page or swap file).  Generally speaking, the more RAM your PC has the better.  Normal (non 64 bit) versions of windows can take a maximum of 4 gigabytes, although only 3.5 of this is actually used.  Adding RAM is the cheapest way to make your PC run faster.

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