BY DIANE McCARGAR
Computers never seem to have enough memory, the internal storage area of a computer. As larger and more complex multimedia programs become commonplace, many computers require more and more memory to run them. However, before you head out to the nearest computer store to buy more memory, here is a little background information to make the trip easier.
Short Term Memory
Every computer contains two types of memory: short term RAM (Random Access Memory) and long term (disks). Programs in your computer are permanently stores on disks. When you run a program, a copy of the program is taken from a disk and placed temporarily in RAM, which allows the processor (brain of the computer) quicker access to the program's instructions. When you use a program to create a document, the document is also temporarily stored in RAM
When you close a document it is erased from R AM and existence. Before closing you must tell the computer to "save" your document on a disk if you want to keep a copy of it. When you quit or exit a program it is also erases from RAM, but the original remains on the disk.
There are two types of computer users: those who've lost data and those who will! Work hard, save often.
Speaking of erasing things, countless people have had to learn the hard way that RAM requires electricity to store information. Any interruption in power will erase everything stored in RAM. Yes, everything, although some programs will automatically save your document at specified intervals. Preferences for the "backup" version can usually be selected in the Setup or Preference menu of many programs. You can also buy special-purpose backup utilities.
When discussing memory, it can never be said enough how important it is to save your work often and make backup copies of important data stored on a disk. In fact, for very important work, make more than one backup copy, and keep them in separate locations. (If someone steals your computer, or it dies, you could lose a great deal more than the hardware if there are no backups on hand.) Moreover, a computer, like a car, can't run forever.
As one computer user who goes by the name 'Til' put it, "There are two types of computer users: those who've lost data and those who will! Work hard, save often."
Long Term Memory
There are many different types of 'long term memory' for data storage. Because of their size, hard disks are the primary long term storage device for most programs and documents, but floppy disks are still needed to transport things from one computer to another. Today's hard disks can store almost 1000 times more than a high density floppy disk. Early computers used 5.25" floppy disks to store programs and documents. They were replaced by low density or double density 3.5" floppy disks, then high density 3.5" floppy disks (diskettes).
Currently, CD-ROMs are available with much higher storage capacity than a floppy disk. Programs are becoming increasingly larger and companies have begun shipping them on one compact disk (CD) instead of several floppy disks. For most newer programs it is essential to have a CD-ROM drive.
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