Computer memory is divided into two components: Random Access Memory (RAM) and Read Only Memory (ROM).


This is a fast, temporary type of memory which allows stored data to be accessed quickly along with programs and applications. The size of the RAM on a computer determines how many commands you can have active and how fast these can be accessed. The difference between RAM and ROM is that RAM can be read and written to whereas ROM is read only.

It is known as volatile storage because when the computer is switched off, all the information is lost.

Examples of data stored on the RAM:

  • the operating system
  • the graphical user interface (GUI)

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Memory stored in the ROM cannot be modified by a program or user therefore, unlike with RAM, it retains its memory even when the computer is turned off. When it is turned on again ROM stores the instructions for the computer to start up.

There are two main reasons that ROM is used for certain functions in computers:

1, Permanence: The information stored is always there, even if the ROM is removed from the computer for an indefinate amount of time, when replaced, the data it contains will still be there.

2, Security: Due to ROMs being difficult to modify provides a measure of security against accidental changes to the data. Also, they cannot be affected by viruses.

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