RAM vs. Hard Drive: The Key Differences You Need to Know

Cedric updated on Sep 13, 2022 to Knowledge Center

RAM and Hard Drive are two types of computer memory familiar to all of us. But most of us don’t know the exact difference between RAM and Hard Drive. Don't worry; you will grasp the key difference between them after reading this post. Just keep reading.  

What Is RAM

Random Access Memory, people usually call it RAM. RAM is a short-term data store that stores information only when the processor needs it. This also allows RAM to access data almost instantly. When a program in a device starts, program-related data is temporarily stored in RAM for easy access. However, RAM is also a type of volatile memory as it is mainly used to store the relevant instructions and data of the running program. When there is a situation where the device is powered off, the data stored in RAM is lost. This also means that RAM, a short-term data storage, only stores information when the device is turned on. Typically, RAM stores working data and machine code. When a user starts an online game or streams a movie, the relevant data is temporarily stored in RAM so that the processor can access it anytime. Once the process is shut down, the data in RAM is deleted. When the next task is started, the related data will be stored in RAM again.

ram product

What Is Hard Drive 

As an electromechanical storage device, the hard drive plays a vital role in the modern era of digital technology. HDD is the primary data storage hardware device in a computer. HDDs have spinning disks, so data is also stored magnetically inside them. HDDs sit between semiconductor memory and removable drives in the storage circle. As mentioned above, RAM is volatile memory; HDD is just different from RAM; it is a non-volatile memory. HDD can store the user's digital content and data on the computer, including pictures, videos, documents, music, programs, and applications. HDDs can only store 5 MB of data in the beginning and can reach 24 inches in diameter, which is very inconvenient. But modern HDDs are extraordinarily portable and store up to 100 terabytes of data.

hard drive

Key Differences Between RAM and Hard Drive

After learning the exact definition of them, you can grasp the key differences between RAM and Hard Drive through this part.

difference between hard drive and RAM

  • Memory Type: RAM is a type of volatile memory, while a hard disk drive (HDD) is a type of non-volatile memory. As a volatile memory, RAM is only used to store the relevant instructions and data of the currently running program. This also shows that RAM can only store and maintain information when the device is turned on. A hard disk drive (HDD) is a non-volatile memory, so there is no requirement for RAM storage, and the HDD retains stored data even if power is lost.
  • Data: RAM is a short-term storage device typically storing working data and machine code. It is mainly used to store information or instructions that the computer uses so that the processor can access it anytime. A hard drive is a permanent storage device that stores all digital content and data on a user's device, including pictures, videos, documents, music, programs, and applications.
  • Form Factor: RAM comes in two main sizes: DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module), mainly used in desktops and servers. SO-DIMM (Small Outline DIMM): This is used in notebook computers. The two types of RAM work almost in the same way, but the two are not interchangeable. HDDs come in two main sizes: 3.5-inch drives: This is for desktop computers. 2.5-inch drive: This is for laptops.
  • Speed: RAM is fast, and compared to other storage devices (including HDDs), the storage speed of RAM is excellent. Due to the higher storage speed, processors also have immediate access to data about the programs they are currently running. When we judge the device's operating speed, we consider the RAM speed of the device. Therefore, the speed and performance of the computer are determined by the amount of RAM, not the HDD. HDDs are high-storage devices that run between 5,400 RPM and 10,000 RPM, while most desktop HDDs run at the standard 7,200 RPM.

RAM vs. HDD: Comparison Chart

Here, we will list a comparison chart of RAM and Hard Disk Drive according to their differences; you can read it to get more information directly.

Comparison RAM HDD

RAM VS HDD

  • RAM is a volatile memory that stores data temporarily for easy and instant access
  • The data is stored only when the device is turned on
  • RAM usually stores working data and machine code
  • RAM influences the speed of the device
  • HDD is a non-volatile memory that is the primary data storage hardware device in a computer
  • The data remains even the device is turned off
  • HDD stores all your digital content and data on the computer
  • HDD does not influence the speed of the device

 

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