Tech Terms Explained - RAM

This is the 1st post in a series called Tech Terms Explained. It is my goal to help you gain a better understanding of the various tech terms that you may come across.

Random Access Memory (RAM) is the short term memory of a computer. The RAM temporarily stores all the data required for the operating system and software to function.

 Pictured above are RAM modules.  The top one is typically found in laptops and the bottom one is typically found in desktops.

Pictured above are RAM modules.  The top one is typically found in laptops and the bottom one is typically found in desktops.

When a computer is powered off, all the data stored in RAM is lost. This is in contrast to a hard drive which will store files long term even when the computer is powered off.

I like to share the following analogy with people when I try to explain what RAM is and what it does.

RAM is like a freeway. Everything that is running in your computer goes on the RAM freeway. Sometimes too much stuff is running at the same time, and there is a traffic jam in the RAM and your computer slows way down. Adding more RAM is like adding more lanes to your freeway. A nice wide freeway with lots of RAM will help everything run as fast as possible.
Traffic.png

You will experience less "traffic jams" on your computer when the amount of RAM is higher.

Since starting my business in 2011, I have seen clients with computers ranging from 256 megabytes (MB) of RAM all the way up to clients with 16 gigabytes (GB) of RAM. I personally have 4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM in my MacBook Air.

If you were purchasing a new computer in 2013, I wouldn't recommend any less than 4 gigabytes (GB). The majority of people reading this blog post probably wouldn't benefit from any more than 8 gigabytes (GB).

If you feel that your current Mac or PC is slower than you would like, perhaps you could benefit from adding more RAM to your machine. This is one of the least expensive ways to make your computer faster and can often extend the useful lifespan of the computer. It typically cost between $20-$80 to purchase additional RAM for most computers.

I have helped numerous clients increase the RAM in their computers. Here is what one person had to say after I helped him increase his RAM.

“Mike helped upgrade our Mac with new ram and a new operating system this past month. It’s like having a new computer.
— Ray N. from Farmington, MN

To find out how much RAM you have on your computer you can follow the instructions for Windows and Macs.