Eli5: What is RAM and why is it important for browsers?



Eli5: What is RAM and why is it important for browsers?

In: Technology

RAM is pretty much the ability to store information so it can be instantly recalled rather than loading. So if you visit a website like reddit over and over it can just go to that spot in the ram, put it where it belongs, and go on to loading other stuff. The more you have, the more you can store to instantly recall.

RAM is one of the fastest storage methods in a computer but will not store data permanently. So whenever you power off the computer all the content of the RAM is gone. This makes RAM very good for temporary storage by applications. It is important to all applications. Browsers use a lot of ram in order to store the content of each web page you have open in your tabs and windows. But they do not just store the content as delivered from the web server but also a lot of the intermediary formats it uses when it converts the web page from raw html and css into a fully rendered page. This means that whenever something like a running script on the web page changes anything the browser does not have to go through all the processing again but can just track what changed in order to render the new web page. This makes your browsing experience faster and smoother but takes up a lot of memory.

RAM or random access memory, is the memory used by programs and the operating system to handle work. This is very fast memory that allows the programs to read and write to it very quickly and not lagging and buffering.

Picture the countertop on your kitchen. If you have MORE countertop space, you can lay out all your ingredients, recipes, and equipment to prepare a large meal. This allows you to perform efficiently. Now picture a tiny kitchen in a submarine. You only have enough space to handle one task at a time, you have to now prioritize what to work on with the space you have. This greatly slows down your ability to make a large meal, and possibly prevents you from making the large meal altogether.

When your computer does tasks, it needs to store all of that information about them somewhere that’s readily accessible. That’s RAM.

Honestly, unless you’ve got a very small amount of it or have 50 tabs open, it shouldn’t be important for browsers.

RAM is your computers temporary memory. It’s a place where your computer can store and access information very quickly. However unlike long term memory it goes away as soon as your computer turns off.

RAM is the location your computer uses to store data that programs need while they’re running. For instance if you are streaming a video your computer downloads the next few seconds of the video and stores it in RAM.

Anything you have open on your browser is stored in RAM.

In order to run code or load information like images/etc, that code/information needs to exist somewhere. RAM – Random Access Memory or just “Memory” in common usage is volatile (goes away when the computer powers down), very fast storage as opposed to a hard drive which is non-volatile but a lot slower.

If there were no RAM, you’d need to load every line of code on-demand from the broswer’s files that exist on the hard drive. Any website you visited would need to be downloaded to your hard drive and then read back from that hard drive on demand which would make for a ridiculously slow experience.

With RAM, the needed code from the browser is loaded from the hard drive into RAM when the browser starts so it’s ready in a much faster state on-demand. Any data from a website is downloaded into RAM (any cached files being then copied to the hard drive).

The more RAM you ahve, the more stuff you can store in it before it runs out and stuff needs to be run from the hard drive. Practically, programs are not written without basic levels of RAM in mind and will not operate correctly with insufficient RAM. For the most part though, it’s hard to find computers with less than 4GB of RAM anymore which is plenty for most basic computing.

RAM stands for ‘random access memory’, and it is the place where all applications are run from. Even if you install a program (like a browser) on a disk when it is actually run it is placed into memory so you can actually use it. A browser is just like any other program in that regard. Chrome tends to be memory heavy, so the more RAM you have the better the performance of the browser will be.