What is RAM? A quick summary of what RAM is and how upgrading helps you

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Most people have hear d the term RAM used before among computer users although many don’t know what exactly it is or does, they know that having more is probably useful to them. RAM literally stands for Random Access Memory and is used to fix the problem of reading data from Spinning Drives. Your computer writes/reads data from the hard drive but because traditional hard drives are spinning mechanical devices, it has the problem of being slow, so slow that the rest of the computer has to wait for the hard drive to finish before moving on to its next task. This creates a “bottleneck,” which is simply the slowest part of the computer, which forces the rest of the computer to slow down to that pace. Because hard drives could only go so fast they formed a way to get around this, RAM. What the RAM does is store files temporality on the chip, these files are ones that the OS needs to access constantly or needs quick access to at any given moment. By having this split between the Hard drive and RAM you create a place to store files permanently and another to store ones you need to access quickly, these files tend to be programs that are currently open, which is why it takes so long to load the program the first time, but only a few seconds to gain access to it after its loaded.

What confuses many users is what upgrading their RAM actually does to improve speed, it does little in making the computer think faster, that is what the CPU is for, but gives the benefit of holding more temporary information. If you have 5 programs open now and then open a 6th and the computer starts to bog down while moving between programs, it could very well be that you are using all your RAM and that this newly opened program now has to be stored on the hard drive, which moves much slower. By upgrading your RAM you get the extra space to hold more files that you need access quickly. Having this extra ram won’t make the programs run any faster and this is an important point to stress because at a certain point adding more RAM would be useless to the user. If you have 2gb of RAM and only ever use 1.5gb, then adding an additional 2gb would not benefit you or add any extra speed to the computer, it would only guarantee that everything remains quickly accessible if you exceeded your original 2gb.

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About The Author

President of NSI, Tom has been helping small and medium businesses succeed in Connecticut for over 25 years.