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Random Access Memory


What is RAM?

Two sticks of 8GB D D R 4 computer memory in a plastic shell package

Simply stated, Random Access Memory is a name applied to microchips designed to store and address information while a computer is actually using it. This is in contrast with the hard drive, which stores and accesses information semi-permanently (that is, until it is deleted).

Choosing the right amount of the right kind of RAM is crucial to the success of your homebuilt computer project.

Professionals refer to individual RAM modules as "sticks." So should you, if you want to be taken seriously at your local computer store or geek hangout.

RAM is volatile, which means that it needs a constant current in order for it to retain information. Once the current is removed, the information disappears. This is why you have to save a document that you're working on before you shut off your computer. When you hit "save," the document is transferred from the RAM (temporary storage), to permanent storage (hard drive, floppy disk, CD-RW, etc.).

This is also one reason why it's important to save long documents periodically while you're working on them. If your computer experiences even a brief power interruption, all of the information stored in RAM will be lost.

Types of RAM

RAM comes in different types and flavors to suit different needs and budgets. There are many specialized types of RAM, but some of the more common types are:

Click here to go to the next page where we'll talk about choosing RAM.

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