RAM (Random Access Memory) is a type of storage device that holds bits of information and data that gets processed by the computers CPU or processor. The RAM is made up of small memory chips that are place on a circuit board of its own. These are commonly called a memory or RAM module. When there is power being supplied to the RAM its able to hold information inside itself, but once there is no more power being supplied to it, the data is all lost.
Programs or stored on the computer’s hard drive, where it’s permanently stored. So when you click to open a program, the computer loads the needed files from the hard drive and then sends them through to the RAM where its then temporary stored until no longer needed. When its not needed anymore it gets saved back to the hard drive. The advantage to this is really about speed and performance. Ram is much faster to load from then the hard drive, so it make since to just keep the files stored there and have the CPU processor then process the information directly. When you open up your computers case and look for the RAM, the RAM is always right next to the CPU, allowing for a very quick access to the contents stored on the RAM.
When your computer doesn’t have enough RAM installed, there is a bit of a bottle neck that’s created. Let’s say you have a total amount or 512MB or RAM installed on your computer. You have Windows XP installed as your Operating System. Once loaded, Windows XP may use 256 MB of RAM. Now that gives you only 256 MB of RAM left. Next you want to access the internet with Mozilla Firefox as your internet browser. Once Firefox is loaded and you start using the web, it will then start to cache some of the web site files to RAM as well making run and load sites quicker. Now you don’t have much of any RAM left for the computer to use. Your computer become sluggish and run badly. This because when there is no more RAM to be used by the current opened applications, your computer has to move the files that aren’t being used as much from ram back to the hard drive in a temporary storage file called the page file. This greatly reduces performance to a standing still. So you may hear people say that the best and most cost effected way to increase a computers performance is to just add more RAM, well there are correct.
The recommended amount of RAM for:
Windows XP right now is 1 Gigabyte
Windows Vista and Windows 7 2 Gigabytes
If you have anything below this you may want to consider upgrading to at least the minimum amount above to insure maximum performance of your computer.
If you are unsure of how much RAM is installed in your computer and your computer runs slow, in Windows, open the "System" Control Panel. This can be done by right-clicking "My Computer" and selecting "Properties.