What is the Difference Between RAM and ROM?

Tech FAQ: What is the Difference Between RAM and ROM?

RAM versus ROM

One of the questions that Webopedia has been asked a few times on our Facebook Page is to explain the difference between RAM and ROM. RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read Only Memory) are types of computer memory that provide users with access to information stored on a computer. Here are the top five differences between the two types of memory:

 

 

 

RAM is Random Access Memory.
ROM is Read Only Memory.

RAM is the memory available for the operating system, programs and processes to use when the computer is running.  
ROM is the memory that comes with your computer that is pre-written to hold the instructions for booting-up the computer.

RAM requires a flow of electricity to retain data (e.g. the computer powered on).
ROM will retain data without the flow of electricity (e.g. when computer is powered off).

RAM is a type of volatile memory. Data in RAM is not permanently written. When you power off your computer the data stored in RAM is deleted.
ROM is a type of non- volatile memory. Data in ROM is permanently written and is not erased when you power off your computer.

There are different types of RAM, including DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) and SRAM (Static Random Access Memory).
There are different types of ROM, including PROM (programmable read-only memory) that is manufactured as blank memory (e.g. a CD-ROM) and EPROM (erasable programmable read-only memory).

There are many differences between RAM and ROM memory but there are also a couple similarities (and these are very easy to remember).  Both types of memory used by a computer, and they are both required for your computer to operate properly and efficiently.

Have more questions about RAM and ROM? Feel free to ask in the comments section!

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Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal is a freelance writer, covering business and Internet technology for more than a decade. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.

This article was originally published on July 28, 2011

Webopedia Staff
Webopedia Staff
Since 1995, more than 100 tech experts and researchers have kept Webopedia’s definitions, articles, and study guides up to date. For more information on current editorial staff, please visit our About page.

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