Why is storage bigger than RAM?


Essentially, RAM comes in small sizes (8, 16, 32 GB) but storage is in TB? Why is
this? Would more RAM be better?

In: 0

RAM is a lot more expensive, and is a lot more volatile – you lose all data in RAM when you turn off your machine. Disk can store things for longer for cheaper, using less space and power.

Ram is like the open space on a desk. Storage is like a closet full of things you can use. Anytime you want to do something you have to take a program out of the closet and open it on the desk. Anytime you shut the machine off your desk gets wiped clean. So it’s just the nature of the beast to have a lot more things stored but not being used at the moment in the closet, versus things you are using at the moment open on the desk. Theoretically you could open everything if you had enough desk space but its expensive, wasteful of resources and unnecessary. It’s just easier to keep a couple things open that you’re working on and shut the things off that you weren’t saving desk space.

You only need to work on one or a few projects at a time. The disk is like a library of books that you may need at some point but not all the time. When you open a program, its code and some data get loaded into RAM temporarily, and then unloaded as you finish working with it.

As the average amount of memory in computers grows, software developers start to make use of it less efficiently. They introduce abstraction layers and virtualization, which automatically load stuff into memory and keep it there without the programmer explicitly managing what is currently needed. So you inevitably have to add more RAM to use new software. But you’ll never have as much memory as the disk space on a personal computer.

More RAM doesn’t always mean better performance. Most people aren’t doing RAM-intensive things like video editing or gaming. If you’re only doing things like web browsing and email then you don’t need more than 4GB of RAM. Anything more than what you need is going to sit there unused and contributing nothing to your computer’s performance.

RAM is basically your computers short term memory and the storage is its long term memory.

RAM is much faster than even the fastest storage, but if you turn your computer off the contents of the RAM are gone.

For a computer to actively work with some data it first has to copy it into RAM.

Working with data in RAM is fast. Needing to read data from storage takes ages by comparison. This is why you want all the programs and data you might need in the RAM ready to go.

Sometimes the RAM is to small and the computer has switch out parts of the contents of the RAM to the storage to make room. This switching back and forth is one of the primary reasons for a computer being slow.

Having more RAM fixes much of the issues with computers being slowed down by constantly having to wait for a slow drive.

Sometimes computer can end up with RAM in sizes similar to the size of their hard drives and other connected storage, but this can get expensive really fast.

*Fun Fact:*

Windows 11 Pro for Workstations can handle up to 6TB of RAM.