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RAM vs. Memory: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
RAM (Random Access Memory) is a type of volatile memory used for temporary data storage by a computer, while Memory generally refers to all data storage components in a computer, including both temporary (RAM) and permanent storage (like hard drives).
RAM vs. Memory

Key Differences

RAM (Random Access Memory) is a specific type of computer memory used primarily for storing data that is actively being used or processed by the CPU. This kind of memory is volatile, meaning it loses its contents when the power is turned off. In contrast, the term Memory in computers broadly encompasses all types of data storage, including RAM, hard drives, SSDs, and more, which can be either volatile or non-volatile.
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The speed at which data can be read from and written to RAM is significantly faster than most other forms of memory storage. This speed makes RAM ideal for tasks requiring quick access to data, like running applications and operating system processes. General Memory, however, includes both fast-access storage like RAM and slower, long-term storage solutions like hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).
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RAM's capacity is typically much smaller than the total memory capacity of a computer. For example, a computer may have 8 GB of RAM but 1 TB of total storage memory including the hard drive. The smaller size of RAM is due to its role in short-term data access and higher cost per gigabyte compared to permanent storage memory.
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In terms of functionality, RAM acts as a temporary workspace for the CPU, allowing it to access data quickly and efficiently. Other forms of Memory, particularly permanent storage, serve to store data long-term, retaining information even when the computer is powered off.
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Finally, upgrading RAM can significantly improve a computer's performance, particularly in multitasking and running memory-intensive applications. On the other hand, increasing overall Memory capacity, such as adding a larger hard drive, mainly expands the amount of data that can be stored rather than directly impacting processing speed.
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Comparison Chart

Type

A specific type of volatile memory.
A general term for all data storage in a computer.
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Volatility

Volatile (loses data when power is off).
Includes both volatile (like RAM) and non-volatile types.
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Purpose

Temporary storage for active processing.
Both temporary and permanent data storage.
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Speed

High-speed access for processing data.
Varies (fast for RAM, slower for permanent storage).
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Impact on Performance

Affects processing speed and multitasking.
Affects data storage capacity and long-term data retention.
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RAM and Memory Definitions

RAM

RAM is a volatile memory used for temporary data storage in computers.
My computer's performance improved after I upgraded its RAM to 16 GB.
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Memory

Memory is measured in gigabytes or terabytes, indicating data storage capacity.
Modern smartphones often come with memory capacities exceeding 128 GB.
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RAM

RAM provides fast access to data for active use by the CPU.
The application runs smoothly because it's loaded into the RAM for quick access.
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Memory

Memory encompasses both volatile and non-volatile storage mediums in a computer.
Upgrading the computer's memory can involve adding more RAM or a larger hard drive.
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RAM

RAM is a critical component for running applications and operating systems.
Insufficient RAM can cause a computer to slow down when running multiple programs.
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Memory

Memory is essential for storing both the operating system and user data.
The computer's memory is almost full, affecting its overall performance.
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RAM

RAM is measured in gigabytes and affects a computer's multitasking ability.
With 8 GB of RAM, you can run several applications simultaneously without lag.
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Memory

The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience.
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RAM

RAM is a temporary workspace for a computer's processor.
The data in RAM is lost when the computer is turned off, as it's only for temporary use.
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Memory

The act or an instance of remembering; recollection
Spent the afternoon lost in memory.
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RAM

Digital memory hardware in which information can be accessed in any order with equal speed.
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Memory

All that a person can remember
It hasn't happened in my memory.
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RAM

A male sheep.
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Memory

Something that is remembered
Pleasant childhood memories.
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RAM

A battering ram.
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Memory

The fact of being remembered; remembrance
Dedicated to their parents' memory.
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RAM

The weight that drops in a pile driver or steam hammer.
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Memory

The period of time covered by the remembrance or recollection of a person or group of persons
Within the memory of humankind.
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RAM

The plunger or piston of a force pump or hydraulic press.
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Memory

A circuit or device that stores digital data.
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RAM

A hydraulic ram.
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Memory

Capacity for storing information
Two gigabytes of memory.
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RAM

A projection on the prow of a warship, used to batter or cut into enemy vessels.
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Memory

(Statistics) The set of past events affecting a given event in a stochastic process.
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RAM

A ship having such a projection.
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Memory

The capacity of a material, such as plastic or metal, to return to a previous shape after deformation.
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RAM

Ram See Aries.
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Memory

(Immunology) The ability of the immune system to respond faster and more powerfully to subsequent exposure to an antigen.
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RAM

To strike or drive against with a heavy impact; butt
Rammed the door with a sledgehammer until it broke open.
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Memory

(uncountable) The ability of the brain to record information or impressions with the facility of recalling them later at will.
Memory is a facility common to all animals.
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RAM

To force or press into place.
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Memory

A record of a thing or an event stored and available for later use by the organism.
I have no memory of that event.
My wedding is one of my happiest memories.
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RAM

To cram; stuff
Rammed the clothes into the suitcase.
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Memory

(computing) The part of a computer that stores variable executable code or data (RAM) or unalterable executable code or default data (ROM).
This data passes from the CPU to the memory.
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RAM

To force passage or acceptance of
Rammed the project through the city council despite local opposition.
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Memory

The time within which past events can be or are remembered.
In recent memory
In living memory
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RAM

A male sheep, typically uncastrated.
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Memory

Which returns to its original shape when heated
Memory metal
Memory plastic
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RAM

A battering ram; a heavy object used for breaking through doors.
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Memory

(obsolete) A memorial.
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RAM

A warship intended to sink other ships by ramming them.
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Memory

A term of venery for a social group of elephants, normally called a herd.
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RAM

A reinforced section of the bow of a warship, intended to be used for ramming other ships.
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Memory

The faculty of the mind by which it retains the knowledge of previous thoughts, impressions, or events.
Memory is the purveyor of reason.
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RAM

A piston powered by hydraulic pressure.
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Memory

The reach and positiveness with which a person can remember; the strength and trustworthiness of one's power to reach and represent or to recall the past; as, his memory was never wrong.
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RAM

An act of ramming.
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Memory

The actual and distinct retention and recognition of past ideas in the mind; remembrance; as, in memory of youth; memories of foreign lands.
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RAM

A weight which strikes a blow, in a ramming device such as a pile driver, steam hammer, or stamp mill.
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Memory

The time within which past events can be or are remembered; as, within the memory of man.
And what, before thy memory, was doneFrom the begining.
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RAM

(ambitransitive) To collide with (an object), usually with the intention of damaging it or disabling its function.
The man, driving an SUV, then rammed the gate, according to police.
[http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/12/29/snatch-thieves-rammed-by-victim-accidentally/ Two snatch thieves who snatched a woman's bag experienced swift karma when their victim accidentally rammed into their motorcycle.]
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Memory

Something, or an aggregate of things, remembered; hence, character, conduct, etc., as preserved in remembrance, history, or tradition; posthumous fame; as, the war became only a memory.
The memory of the just is blessed.
That ever-living man of memory, Henry the Fifth.
The Nonconformists . . . have, as a body, always venerated her [Elizabeth's] memory.
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RAM

(transitive) To strike (something) hard, especially with an implement.
To build a sturdy fence, you have to ram the posts deep into the ground.
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Memory

A memorial.
These weeds are memories of those worser hours.
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RAM

(transitive) To seat a cartridge, projectile, or propellant charge in the breech of a firearm by pushing or striking.
After placing the cartridge in the musket, ram it down securely with the ramrod.
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Memory

Something that is remembered;
Search as he would, the memory was lost
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RAM

(transitive) To fill or compact by pounding or driving.
Rammed earth walls
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Memory

The cognitive processes whereby past experience is remembered;
He can do it from memory
He enjoyed remembering his father
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RAM

(slang) To thrust during sexual intercourse.
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Memory

The power of retaining and recalling past experience;
He had a good memory when he was younger
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RAM

(Northern England) rancid; offensive in smell or taste.
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Memory

An electronic memory device;
A memory and the CPU form the central part of a computer to which peripherals are attached
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RAM

The male of the sheep and allied animals. In some parts of England a ram is called a tup.
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Memory

The area of cognitive psychology that studies memory processes;
He taught a graduate course on learning and memory
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RAM

Aries, the sign of the zodiac which the sun enters about the 21st of March.
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Memory

Memory in computing refers to the devices used to store and retrieve digital information.
The memory capacity of my laptop is 512 GB, including both RAM and hard drive storage.
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RAM

An engine of war used for butting or battering.
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Memory

Memory includes permanent storage like SSDs and HDDs, in addition to RAM.
My computer's memory upgrade included a new SSD for faster data access.
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RAM

A hydraulic ram. See under Hydraulic.
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RAM

The weight which strikes the blow, in a pile driver, steam hammer, stamp mill, or the like.
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RAM

The plunger of a hydraulic press.
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RAM

To butt or strike against; to drive a ram against or through; to thrust or drive with violence; to force in; to drive together; to cram; as, to ram an enemy's vessel; to ram piles, cartridges, etc.
[They] rammed me in with foul shirts, and smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy napkins.
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RAM

To fill or compact by pounding or driving.
A ditch . . . was filled with some sound materials, and rammed to make the foundation solid.
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RAM

The most common computer memory which can be used by programs to perform necessary tasks while the computer is on; an integrated circuit memory chip allows information to be stored or accessed in any order and all storage locations are equally accessible
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RAM

(astrology) a person who is born while the sun is in Aries
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RAM

The first sign of the zodiac which the sun enters at the vernal equinox; the sun is in this sign from about March 21 to April 19
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RAM

A tool for driving or forcing something by impact
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RAM

Uncastrated adult male sheep;
A British term is `tup'
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RAM

Strike or drive against with a heavy impact;
Ram the gate with a sledgehammer
Pound on the door
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RAM

Force into or from an action or state, either physically or metaphorically;
She rammed her mind into focus
He drives me mad
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RAM

Undergo damage or destruction on impact;
The plane crashed into the ocean
The car crashed into the lamp post
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RAM

Crowd or pack to capacity;
The theater was jampacked
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does Memory refer to in computing?

Memory refers to all data storage components in a computer, including RAM, SSDs, and HDDs.
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How is RAM different from general memory?

RAM is specifically for temporary, high-speed data access, while Memory includes all types of data storage.
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Can I increase my computer's Memory?

Yes, you can increase Memory by adding more RAM or storage drives.
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What is RAM?

RAM is a type of volatile memory used for temporary data storage by a computer's CPU.
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Is Memory the same as storage?

Yes, in computing, Memory often refers to both temporary and permanent data storage.
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What is non-volatile memory?

Non-volatile memory, like HDDs and SSDs, retains data even when the power is off.
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Can RAM store data permanently?

No, RAM is volatile and loses its data when the power is turned off.
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What impacts does upgrading RAM have?

Upgrading RAM can improve processing speed and multitasking capabilities.
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Do all devices have both RAM and storage memory?

Most modern computing devices have both RAM and storage memory.
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How does virtual memory work?

Virtual memory extends RAM by using a portion of the hard drive as temporary RAM.
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How much RAM do typical computers have?

Typical modern computers range from 4 GB to 32 GB of RAM.
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Does more RAM mean a faster computer?

Generally, more RAM can lead to faster data processing and better multitasking.
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How does SSD memory differ from traditional HDD memory?

SSDs are faster and more durable than HDDs but often come at a higher cost.
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Why is RAM faster than other memory types?

RAM is designed for speed to efficiently process active data.
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Can data be recovered from RAM after power off?

Generally, no. Data in RAM is lost when the device is powered off.
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What happens when RAM is full?

When RAM is full, the computer may slow down or use disk storage as temporary memory, which is slower.
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What types of tasks require more RAM?

Tasks like video editing, gaming, and running multiple applications require more RAM.
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Is cloud storage considered part of a computer's Memory?

No, cloud storage is external and relies on internet connectivity for access.
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Is Memory upgradeable in all computers?

Memory upgradeability varies depending on the computer's design and specifications.
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What is the role of Memory in a smartphone?

In smartphones, Memory stores the operating system, apps, and user data.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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"Login" and "Logon" are often used interchangeably to describe the process of gaining access to a computer system, but "login" can also refer to the credentials used for access.

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