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PC Hardware Cont.............

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Information is stored in a computer in several different ways, but the main two are RAM and hard drive, also called a hard disk.

The hard drive can store huge amounts of information, and it can keep this information when the computer is turned off. The only problem with hard drives is that it takes too long to get the data from them, because the system must wait as the disk spins until the right part of the disk surface comes under the read heads, and then the drive transfers a block of data in sequence.

For information being used at the moment, the system needs to be able to get to any part of that information very quickly. The storage for this information is RAM, which stands for Random Access Memory. Random access means the system can ask for any piece of stored data at random and get it immediately, without waiting for to come up in sequence.

Random access is faster than sequential access. The main reason that computers don't just store everything in RAM is that information in RAM is lost whenever the power is turned off. So, the computer needs both RAM and disk storage. Everything stored long-term is on the disk, and whatever is needed at the moment is copied into RAM. If changes are made to the data in RAM, the changes must be copied back to the disk before that computer is turned off so those changes are not lost.

When people talk about the memory of a computer, they almost always mean RAM, and not the hard drive or other forms of storage that we haven't covered yet. Sometimes they will say 'main memory' just to be perfectly clear about it.


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