RAM? Memory? 32 gigabytes of internal storage you can expand using a microSD card? What does this all mean?!

We admit to throwing around lots of techie jargon when we talk about smartphones and computers, but we’ll now take a step back to talk about what RAM does and how it differs from typical data storage.

Random Access Memory

When we talk about RAM, we’re referring to Random Access Memory, which is often just called memory. Practically every task you perform, whether it be opening a web browser or camera app, has the gadget’s processor temporarily store data in the memory while it’s in use; when a device shuts down or restarts, the entire memory clears up.

So, why have something that doesn’t keep data for long periods of time? RAM serves an important purpose in every computing device, and that’s to speed up the system. By having its own little space for dumping and retrieving data at rapid rates, the processor doesn’t have to access the system’s larger, slower internal storage.


Here are four sticks of RAM inside a desktop computer

Using RAM is a lot like going through the smartphone in your pocket to quickly find information, rather doing a search using the desktop computer nestled in your home. It’s all about speed and convenience; that’s why it’s needed

In theory, the more RAM you have, the better, since it allows your device to store more temporary data at once. At the same time, having too much memory can be a bad thing. It’s terribly inefficient to make your smartphone or computer constantly look around unused space to find just one piece of data.

A Huawei executive recently claimed that 4GB (gigabytes) of memory is more than enough on a smartphone (for now), and is the reason why the P10 doesn’t have as much RAM as, say, the generous 6GB of the OnePlus 3T. He added that it’s more beneficial to have lots of internal storage than excessive memory. Let’s delve into that next.

Internal Storage

This is as straightforward as it gets: More storage means more space for all your personal files, apps, and operating system. Unlike RAM, you can always expand your storage to fit more files. In the case of smartphones and tablets, you can extend the capacity by inserting a microSD card or accessing your favorite cloud services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

For laptops and desktop computers, you always have to option to add an additional HDD or SSD, or simply plug in a flash drive to an available USB port. As long you make use of all that space, there’s no need to hold back in purchasing more.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

For smartphones, the RAM, storage, and processor can all be found on a tiny SoC (System on a Chip) like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

And so, while RAM and storage are measured in similar ways, they have distinctly different purposes in a system. More importantly, they must work together — along with the device’s heart, the processor — to keep your gadget running as smoothly as possible.

SEE ALSO: SSD and HDD: What’s the difference?

SSD and HDD: What’s the difference?

Image credit: Ram Joshi