Mid-Michigan Computer Consultants, Inc.
Bay City, Michigan
Sales (989) 892-9242
Support (989) 686-8860
RAM vs DISK
We're writing these answers to the typical end-user.
Other computer types will probably find things that
they'd describe differently.
If you are one of those people,
please bear with us and see if
you agree that the general idea is correct.
One of the things that almost everyone has problems with
is the difference in RAM and DISK.
People ask if they need to delete files or uninstall some
software to get more memory.
They are confusing "memory" with "disk".
Here's our way of explaining how RAM and DISK relate.
The word RAM stands for
RAM is the temporary, working memory of the computer.
When you turn the computer on, its RAM starts empty.
When you turn the power off anything stored in RAM evaporates.
DISK is permanent storage.
When something is written to the disk it will stay there even
when you turn power off.
Disks come in many sizes and shapes from "hard" disks inside the computer
to "floppy" disks that you can take out.
Regardless of the form, all disks are just a type of magnetic recording
material just like an audio cassette tape or a video tape.
The most common way to describe a disk is to
think of it as a good old fashioned office file cabinet.
If you write something on a piece of paper and put it in a
folder it will stay there.
You can organize the folders in the drawers any way that you want.
You can also buy another file cabinet when you run out of room.
This is a good place to mention a disk "crash".
A disk CRASH is like pulling the drawer out and dropping it,
bending the rails and spilling the contents down the elevator shaft.
You may get your stuff back but it's not likely.)
The way we like to describe RAM is to think of it as a BLACKBOARD.
In this case, it's a blackboard that gets automatically errased
every time you leave the room and turn off the lights.
The way things work is this, EVERYTHING that you do must be written on
the blackboard. You can't directly read the file folders, they must be
written on the blackboard. It's the ONLY way that ANYONE can see the
As the blackboard fills up you have no room to write anything else. One
way that you can get more room is to write something from the board onto
a piece of paper and file the paper in file cabinet (your disk). Now
you can erase that piece of the board and put something else up there.
When you transfer something from the board to a piece of paper
to get more room on the blackboard,
you are NOT allowed to hold the slip of paper in your hand or lay it on
the floor or have anyone else hold it. The paper MUST be properly filed
in the cabinet.
When you need to refer to the information that you just erased and
filed, you must "swap" something else from the board to the file cabinet.
You find some space, write the current information on a piece of paper
and file it away. Then you get the first piece of information and
copy it back onto the blackboard.
NO EXCEPTIONS ALLOWED... you can't just read from the paper in the file.
It MUST be written onto the board.
So as things get moving, you spend most of your time just copying things
to and from pieces of paper and filing them. Not much productive work
There are several solutions to this problem.
First, just don't do as much work.
Back in the DOS days you were limited to ONE thing at a time and
were not allowed to exceed the space on the board. With Windows you can
do as much as you want but things have to be swapped between RAM and DISK.
Don't open as many tasks and Windows will run faster.
Of course, doing less work defeats the purpose of Windows.
Therefore, the REAL solution is to get a bigger blackboard!
For the computer that means more RAM.
8Mb was fine for Windows 3.xx and 16 was GREAT.
For W95, 16Mb is about the minimum and 32 makes it start working OK.
Give it 64Mb and W95 will begin to work pretty well.
Write to MMCC Technical Support at:
600 W. Midland
Bay City, MI 48708
© 1997 MMCC, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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