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what is a ram

 Random-access memory (RAM) is the short-term memory of a computer. None of Netflix's program files or streams will work without RAM which is your computer's workspace. 

But what exactly is Random-access memory? In this article, we explain what is the meaning of RAM in computer terms and why it is important.

What Does Ram Stand For?

Random-access memory is an abbreviation of "random access memory" and although it sounds mysterious RAM is one of the most basic elements of computing. 

Random-access memory is the fastest and most temporary data storage space your computer needs to access right now or shortly.

Computers always load things to work on - like applications and data - and then turn them over later. RAM is the short-term memory of your computer. 

In contrast, the computer's hard disk or SSD is its long-term memory where things are stored more or less permanently.

Every computing device has Random-access memory whether it is a desktop computer (running Windows macOS or Linux), a tablet or smartphone, and even a special dedicated computing device (like a smart TV).

Almost all computers also have a way to store information for longer-term access. But the workflows are done in RAM.

What Does Ram Do Exactly?

Random-access memory is temporary storage that disappears when the power is turned off. 

So what is RAM used for then? It's very fast making it ideal for things that your computer is actively working on such as applications that are currently running (for example the web browser you are reading this article on) and the data that those applications are working on or with (such as this article).

It can help to think about RAM with the analogy of a physical desktop. Your workspace - where you scribble on something instantly - is the top of the desk where you want everything at your fingertips and you do not want any delay in finding anything. 

It's Random-access memory. On the other hand, if you want to keep something to work on later you put it in a desk drawer - or keep it on a hard disk locally or in the cloud.

Significantly faster Random-access memory than a hard disk - twenty times faster per hundred depending on the specific type of hardware and task. 

Because of its speed RAM is used to process information instantly. When you want to perform a specific task computer operating systems load data from the hard disk into RAM to process such as sorting a spreadsheet or displaying it on the screen. 

When it is done "doing something" actively the computer (sometimes at your instruction) saves it for long-term storage.

So for example suppose you want to work with a spreadsheet. When you start Excel your computer loads the application in RAM. If you load an existing spreadsheet (stored on the hard disk), the operating system also copies this information to Random-access memory. 

So you can work with Excel batting numbers in your usual way. In most circumstances, the computer responds super fast because RAM is fast. 

When you're done with the spreadsheet you tell Excel to save it - which means the data is copied to your hard disk or other long-term storage. 

(If you forget to save and the power fails all this work is gone because RAM is temporary storage.) And when you close the application the computer's operating system removes it from the RAM and cleans the deck so that the space is free. To work on the next thing.

One extended use of RAM is to help access information that was previously available much faster. When you first turn on your computer and launch any application such as PowerPoint or Spotify it takes time to load it. 

However, if you close a program and then restart it the software opens almost immediately (unless your PC is not performing). This is because the app loads significantly faster RAM, not hard disk.

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