Difference between Memory and Storage

The computer is the most widely used device throughout the world. Nowadays, it has become the second basic need of humans to carry out daily tasks.

One of the important and defining parameters of a computer is its memory. The way the computer performs its task is incomparable to humans. It runs the number of operations at one time and within milliseconds, that too error-free!

Memory is the fundamental component of a computer. Each part of the computer has a different speed to perform tasks and computer memory helps these devices to quickly access the data and perform according to the need.

Storage and memory are two holding areas in the computer. But most of the time these two terms are confusing for users. Though both the components store data, they too have huge differences between them. Let us see the actual difference between memory and storage.

Difference between Memory and Storage in tabular form

Here are the key points of differences between memory and storage.

Memory Storage
Memory is the electronic storage space that is used to store data and programs temporarily Storage is any physical device used for storing, porting, or extracting data
Here, data is stored temporarily Here, data is stored temporarily as well as permanently
It comes under volatile memory i.e. it loses data when the power supply is cut It comes under non-volatile memory i.e. it does not lose data when the power supply is cut
It is usually referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory) It is usually referred to as SSD (Solid State Drive)
RAM is faster than SSD SSD is slower than RAM
Data is instantly accessed Data is not accessed as instantly as memory
Memory modules are a bit costly than storage devices Storage devices are not that costly as memory modules
The size of the memory is less large. It has the capacity to store up to gigabytes The size of the storage device is much larger. It has the capacity to store up to terabytes
Memory is made up of registers and used when we want to store data for a short time Storage devices are made up of magnetic strips and used when we want to store data for a long time

We have seen the differences pointwise, now let us dive into the theoretical part, individually.

What is Memory?

Computer memory is the physical device that is used to store data or information temporarily. It processes the received data and stores the instructions which are required for processing. Memory has large numbers of small units called cells. These cells have a unique address called memory address. Memory is divided into 3 types namely

Primary Memory/ Main Memory

Primary memory is also called volatile memory meaning, the data is lost when the power is off. By its name, it is obvious that this type of memory is inbuilt within the computer and performs a primary task. It stores the data which is currently processed by the processor. Generally divided into RAM and ROM.

Secondary Memory

Secondary memory is also called non-volatile memory meaning, the data is not lost when power is off. It is used to store information permanently and comes with a large storage capacity. DVD, CD-ROM, disk are examples of secondary memory.

Cache Memory

Cache memory is a faster type of semiconductor memory used to store the data that is frequently used by the central processing unit. Data is stored temporarily and it takes less access time to perform a task. Webpage data can be considered cache memory.

We have learned about computer memory and its types. Now, let us discuss more about computer storage and its functionalities.

What is storage?

As per its name, storage is something that stores the data on the computer. In simple words, it is something that is in your device but the computer is not thinking about it, is stored in the storage device.

This data is stored for a long time, either temporarily or permanently, and comes with a large storage capacity. It is sometimes inbuild in the device or you can insert it externally. It has a wide range of sizes up to terabytes.

Storage devices allow us to store all kinds of data such as pictures, clips, documents, executable files, applications.

Major storage types are noted below:

  • HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
  • SSD (Solid State Drive)
  • SD cards
  • CD, DVD
  • Micro SD Cards and many more to note…

Basically, for most computer users this is the perpetual point of confusion. They often end up merging both the concepts or considering them as a synonym. But this is not the case, memory and storage are completely different from one another. They have their roles and functions to perform according to the need of the processor.

Shraddha Changune
SVKM’s Institute of Technology, Dhule


1. https://callnerds.com/whats-difference-memory-storage/
2. https://www.javatpoint.com/memory-vs-storage
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_data_storage#Hierarchy_of_storage
4. https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/m/memory.htm

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