How Does Computer Memory Work When It’s Switched Off?

The primary purpose of memory, whether it be human or machine, is to keep a record of information for a specific period of time. One thing about human memory, however, in comparison to machine memory, is the ability of human memory to forget. This might sound like a drawback for us humans, but we must consider the fact that there are only so many things that we can possibly remember. Computers don’t forget or remember things the way we humans do. They store information in the form of binary code.  This means they either know something or not (excluding the failure of hardware or the corruption of data). Now, let’s take a look at how a computer stores information in different types of memory.

memory, working, off, computer

Behavior of memory when Power is Turned Off

The fundamental similarity between human and computer memory is the fact that both have two types of memory. For humans, there are short-term memory and long-term memory. Short-term memories are activities you have recently seen that required processing. Long-term memory is composed of the facts we have learned, events we have experienced and things we need to remember for an extended period.

Now, when it comes to computer memory, the first type of memory is built-in memory (or main memory). This memory is usually known to be volatile, which means that as soon as the power is turned off, the computer tends to forget this data stored in it. The kind of memory that is volatile is the RAM (Random Access Memory). This is where the secondary type of memory comes in, known as Auxiliary Memory. We can consider a hard drive to be a prime example of Auxiliary memory. This memory, unlike volatile memory, does not get erased when the power to the computer is turned off. Now, let’s take a look and try and understand how built-in RAM and hard drives work.

Internal Memory

When it comes to internal memory, there are two types: RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read Only Memory). RAM chips only keep things in their memory until the power is turned off. Therefore, it is used only for short-term memory storage. ROM chips, on the other hand, remember things whether or not the power is turned off. The ROM is programmed with a set of instructions that can only be read by the computer. In the factory, the ROM is used to store things like computer BIOS. The BIOS operates the fundamental systems’ programs, such as the input/output functions, computer screen, and keyboard.

Add Comment