RAM (random-access memory) is a hardware device that allows information to be stored and retrieved on a computer. RAM is usually associated with DRAM, which is a type of memory module. Because data is accessed randomly instead of sequentially like it is on a CD or hard  drive access times  are much faster. However, unlike ROM, RAM is a VOLATILE MEMORY and requires power to keep the data accessible. If the computer is turned off, all data contained in RAM is lost.Tip

New users often confuse RAM with disk drive space. See our memory definition for a comparison between the two.


Two main types of RAM are:

  • Static RAM
  • Dynamic RAM

Static RAM

Static RAM is the full form of SRAM. In this type of RAM, data is stored using the state of a six transistor memory cell. Static RAM is mostly used as a cache memory for the processor (CPU).

Dynamic RAM

DRAM stands for Dynamic Random Access Memory. It is a type of RAM which allows you to stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within a specific integrated circuit. Dynamic RAM is a standard computer memory of the many modern desktop computers.

This type of RAM is a volatile memory that needs to be refreshed with voltage regularly. Else it loses the information stored on it.


Computer random access memory (RAM) is one of the most important components in determining your system’s performance. RAM gives applications a place to store and access data on a short-term basis. It stores the information your computer is actively using so that it can be accessed quickly.

The more programs your system is running, the more you’ll need. SSDs (solid state drives) are also important components and will help your system reach its peak performance.

The speed and performance of your system directly correlate to the amount of RAM you have installed. If your system has too little RAM, it can be slow and sluggish. But on the opposite end, you can install too much with little to no added benefit. There are ways to see if your computer needs more memory, and to make sure you are buying memory that is compatible with the other components in your system. Generally, components are created to the highest standard at the time of manufacture, but with the expectation that technology will continue to change.

To prevent users from inserting incompatible memory, modules are physically different from each  memory technology generation. These physical differences are standard across the memory industry. One of the reasons for industry-wide standardization in memory is that computer makers need to know the electrical parameters and physical shape of the memory that can be installed in their computers.

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