Whats the difference between memory and disk space

This is a question we get asked often:

If I’m running out of memory, can’t I just delete some files?

There are two types of “memory” in computers/mobile phones etc.: RAM Memory and Disk. Lets explore each in turn.

RAM Memory

This is the temporary storage area where the processor stores information. The processes running (applications/programs) the more memory is consumed, so the only way to free up RAM Memory is to close programs. The Operating System (Windows) uses up a certain amount of memory and this is typically the minimum memory required in a computer. If there is not enough spare system memory, your computer will run slowly or freeze. As you open more applications (Email, MS Word) etc., more memory is used up. When the memory is near full, a temporary file will be created on the hard drive to “dump” some of the uneeded applications. As RAM memory operates in nano seconds (1 millionth of a second) and hard drive reads and writes in milliseconds (1 thousandth of a second), this swapping of information to and from the memory to the swap file causes the system to briefly hang. If this takes too long, or not enough memory can be freed up, the PC will simply crash.

To cure a shortage of memory, you can upgrade the memory modules. A baseline we recommend is a minimum of 4GB for everyday computing with Windows 10. How much you can increase the memory and at what cost is limited to the system configuration. There is no other solution.

Disk Storage

Measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB), this is where you store all your files. If it gets full, you simply delete some of your unneeded files (documents, photos, programs etc.) or move them to external USB disks.

As a rule of thumb, system performance starts to slow down when you get to less than 10% free space and with Windows PCs it is important to carry out regular maintenance (defragmentation/disk cleaning) to keep its performance running top notch. SSD drives, which replace mechanical hard drives give a massive speed boost to even the oldest system both on booting up and opening programs.

System running slow – contact us today about upgrade options or book in for a service. Its normally cheaper to upgrade/service than buy a new system.


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Posted on

14th November 2017