RAM vs. Hard Drive Memory

Both RAM and hard drive memory are referred to as memory, which often causes confusion. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. Physically, it is a series of chips in your computer. When your computer is turned on, it loads data into RAM. Programs that are currently running, and open files, are stored in RAM; anything you are using is running in RAM somewhere. As soon as the electricity to the RAM is cut, it forgets everything; that's why an unsaved document is lost if the computer locks up or there is a power failure. When you save a document it goes on a hard drive, or another type of media storage device. Typically, this type of storage is magnetic, and does not depend on electricity to remember what is written on it. However, it's much slower than RAM. The computer can access anything stored in RAM nearly instantly. Things on the hard drive need to be located, read and sent to RAM before they can be processed. If your computer says you are low on disk space you have too many programs or files on your computer. To correct this, you will need a new hard drive, or will need to uninstall unused programs or delete unneeded files off the computer. If your computer says you are low on memory, you have too many programs running, or your computer does not have the RAM needed to run the software you want to. Restarting your computer will clear the RAM and usually clears up 90% of low memory errors. If your computer has more RAM than the programs minimum requirements, and restarting the computer does not solve the problem, the error could be caused by a buffer overflow, or another technical issue that is outside the scope of this tutorial.