RAM

Stands for "Random Access Memory" and is pronounced "ram." RAM is a common hardware component found in electronic devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In computers, RAM may be installed as memory modules, such as DIMMs or (SO-DIMMs sodimm). In tablets and smartphones, RAM is typically integrated into the device and cannot be removed.

The amount of RAM in a device determines how much memory the operating system and open applications can use. When a device has sufficient RAM, several programs can run simultaneously without any slowdown. When a device uses close to 100% of the available RAM, memory must be swapped between applications, which may cause a noticeable slowdown. Therefore, adding RAM or buying a device with more RAM is one of the best ways to improve performance.

"RAM" and "memory" may be used interchangeably. For example, a computer with 16 GB of RAM has 16 gigabytes of memory. This is different than storage capacity, which refers to how much disk space the device's HDD or SSD provides for storing files.

System memory is considered "volatile" memory since it only stores data while a device is turned on. When the device is powered down, data stored in the RAM is erased. When the device is restarted, the operating system and applications load fresh data into the system memory. This is why restarting a computer often fixes problems.

Updated June 21, 2019 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

What function does the Caps Lock key perform?

A
It prevents the keys on a keyboard from entering any data.
0%
B
It allows the numeric keypad to be used as arrow keys.
0%
C
It transforms all lowercase letter input to uppercase.
0%
D
It allows the function keys to be used as keyboard shortcuts.
0%
Correct! Incorrect!     View the Caps Lock definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of RAM on this page is an original definition written by the TechTerms.com team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.