Because the processes of reading and writing data to a disk are relatively slow, many programs keep track of data changes in a buffer and then copy the buffer to a disk. For example, word processors employ a buffer to keep track of changes to files. Then when you save the file, the word processor updates the disk file with the contents of the buffer. This is much more efficient than accessing the file on the disk each time you make a change to the file.
Note that because your changes are initially stored in a buffer, not on the disk, all of them will be lost if the computerfails during an editing session. For this reason, it is a good idea to save your file periodically. Most word processors automatically save files at regular intervals.
Buffers are commonly used when burning data onto a compact disc, where the data is transferred to the buffer before being written to the disc.
Another common use of buffers is for printing documents. When you enter a PRINT command, the operating system copies your document to a print buffer (a free area in memory or on a disk) from which the printer can draw characters at its own pace. This frees the computer to perform other tasks while the printer is running in the background. Print buffering is called spooling.
Most keyboard drivers also contain a buffer so that you can edit typing mistakes before sending your command to a program. Many operating systems, including DOS, also use a disk buffer to temporarily hold data that they have read from a disk. The disk buffer is really a cache.
(v.)To move data into a temporary storage area.
- Watch Datamation's editor James Maguire moderate roundtable discussions with tech experts from companies such as Accenture, Dell, Blue Jeans Network, Microsoft and more »
From celebrity tweets to hosting live Twitter chats, our favorite Twitter tips will have you tweeting like a pro in no time. Read More »Interesting Times: Transformation in the IT Channel
Business transformation will remain the buzzword of the moment as channel firms continue to assess the direction of their companies in the age of... Read More »11 Tips to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal
It's not just your lawnmower and household tools that your neighbor won't return. Our top picks include everything from updating device firmware... Read More »
From wacky alarm clocks to lecture hall tools and after class entertainment, these Android apps are a good fit for a student's life and budget. Read More »Network Fundamentals Study Guide
A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
This Webopedia study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »