RAM, Memory, Hard Drive, Storage – What’s the difference?

RAM next to SSD

There seems to be a lot of confusion over the proper use of terms like “memory,” so I thought it would be a good idea to post a super simple article on what the different terms mean.

Memory. Memory normally refers to RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is a very fast storage medium that is used by the computer to temporarily store data that the computer needs to access frequently. The more RAM you have, the more files or programs you can have open on your computer without it slowing down. Think about your use of your web browser… each tab you have open uses RAM so it reacts quickly. If you have a bunch of tabs open on your computer along with a few programs you are using, it can use up all the system Memory (RAM), and the computer will start running slowly until you close out some of your tabs or quit some applications.

“Hard Drive”, “SSD”, or “Flash Storage”. Your hard drive stores the files that are on your computer. If you are running out of space on your computer (“Your startup disk is full” warning), or you need to download a lot of data to your computer and you know you need more storage space, you are looking for a hard drive upgrade. Basically if you are not able add files or information to your computer because your disk doesn’t have enough space, you need to increase the size of your drive!

I hope this has helped clear up why asking for “more memory” is asking for more RAM rather than asking for more storage space for files.

We offer RAM and Hard Drive upgrades! So whether you are looking to speed up your computer with more RAM, or increase your storage space with a new hard drive or super fast solid state drive, we’ve got you covered!

Apple has been moving away from user replaceable RAM in recent years. Most of their current model laptops do not allow for upgrading the RAM, so be sure to buy a model with enough memory for your needs and maybe a little extra to grow on.

Apple is also moving away from using drives that are replaceable. They are now soldering on the memory chips directly to the logic board. If your laptop was made in 2016 or later, there is a good chance the drive is not upgradable.

If you want to know what upgrades we can offer for your computer, just send us an email with the serial number of your computer (it can be found on the bottom of the machine). That will allow us to look up the exact model and year to see what upgrades are available.