Computer Hardware

Most people are accustomed to using a computer on a daily basis to browse through web sites, send e-mail, type documents, play games, or store digital photographs. However, very few people have taken the time to understand the basic concepts of computer hardware. Knowing the difference between ROM and RAM is one simple way to make sure you get the best value for your money when purchasing your new computer.

One of the main reasons that people have trouble understanding the difference between ROM and RAM is that both are calculated in bytes, the smallest measurable data unit of computer memory. One byte is enough data to hold about one letter or number. Kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes are simply larger units of computer memory.

ROM (Read Only Memory) is in chips on your computer's motherboard. ROM is the part of your computer that contains the minimum information needed to start the system. It can't be removed since it's used for critical computer functions. It's also difficult to add ROM to your computer hardware, so make sure you have enough to meet your needs when you purchase a new system. ROM is sometimes used in reference to CD-ROM's to indicate a type of computer storage media that can't be easily modified.

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RAM (Random Access Memory) is sold in computer hardware components that can be attached or wired to your computer's main circuit board. RAM is typically sold in sticks that are referred to as either Single Inline Memory Modules (SIMMs) or Dual Inline Memory Modules (DIMMs). RAM is the part of your computer's memory that is used to run programs. When one computer program is shut down, the RAM it was using can be reused by a different program. Since you can always add RAM to your system, this isn't as important as ROM when purchasing a new computer.