Difference between Volatile and Non Volatile memory

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

Now, we know that the computer is just another human brain. It contains memory where all the data and instructions are stored.

Memory is a must and essential for every 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. In simple terms, memory means to store.

Now, let us see the types of memory. Memory is differentiated on different parameters. One of them is based on temporary and permanent storage.

The two types of memory are

  • Volatile Memory
  • Non-volatile Memory

Volatile memory vs Non Volatile memory

Let us discuss the main differences between volatile and non volatile memory.

Volatile Memory Non-volatile Memory
Data or information is lost when the electric power supply is stopped. Data or information is not lost when the electric power supply is stopped.
Follows temporary data storage Follows permanent data storage
Data is transferred easily in this type of memory Data transfer is not so easy
Speed is comparatively faster than non-volatile memory Speed is comparatively slower than volatile memory
It has an impact on system performance It does not have an impact on system performance
It does not affect the system storage as data remains temporarily It affects the system storage as data remains permanently
It has a primary type of storage It has a secondary type of storage
It can be used for the read-write purpose It can be used for the only-write purpose
It contains less storage capacity It contains more storage capacity
Volatile memory stores the data which is currently used by the CPU Non-volatile memory stores data which needs to be saved permanently
As the data is in direct contact with the CPU, it has direct access Here, the processor does not have direct access to the data/instruction
Volatile memory is less cost-efficient (costly) Non-volatile memory is more cost-efficient (less costly)
RAM is the basic example of Volatile Memory
ROM is the basic example of Non-Volatile Memory

Now, let us see what volatile and non-volatile memory means!

What is Volatile Memory?

Volatile memory is the type of computer memory that needs a power supply to store data. Once the supply is cut or lost, the data is also lost. For example, if we are working on an MS word file and there is a sudden power failure then the unsaved data is lost and we have to create it again. This is the case where volatile memory plays its part. This happens because the data first is stored in RAM. When you save your content it is sent to your hard drive for storage.

Volatile memory stores the data temporarily, also called temporary memory.  In simple words, it holds the data of the instructions that are running on the processor currently. Frequently used data is also stored in this type of memory. System performance is considered while learning this memory.

The process can read and write while in non-volatile memory process can only read. Volatile memory has less storage capacity because it is an inbuilt and temporary memory.

You will always hear the word “RAM” whenever you are discussing volatile memory. We will discuss it here.

RAM is an abbreviation for Random Access Memory. RAM helps you to perform multi programs more efficiently and with ease. It also helps you to shuffle between programs and provide temporary storage and gives quick access to files, browsers, spreadsheets, documents, and many more functions. RAM sizes are calculated in megabytes and gigabytes. Common RAM sizes vary from 2Gb to 8Gb in computers.

We are clear with the concept of Volatile memory. Now let us see about non-volatile memory.

What is Non-volatile memory?

Non-volatile memory is another type of computer memory that holds the data even when the power supply is lost. It stores the data permanently, also called permanent storage. This type of memory is not very fast in processing but stores the data for a longer period. It makes the difference in the system storage as the data is stored permanently.

It contains basic information about the system booting process, Stores BIOS, and other firmware. Some examples of this memory are ROM, flash memory, most types of magnetic computer storage devices (such as hard disks, floppy disks, and magnetic tape), optical disks. ROM is the non-volatile memory. Let’s know more about it.

ROM is the abbreviation for Read-Only Memory. As per its name, it only reads the data and provides instruction for different hardware components. It is used for huge storage of data, built inside the system or provided externally. RAM cannot provide such huge storage and hence ROM is essential in every system. ROM is cheap as compared to RAM.

Masked ROM–MROM, Programmable ROM-PROM, Erasable, and Programmable ROM-EPROM, are some types of ROM.

Here in this article, we have seen the meaning of volatile memory, non-volatile memory, and their key differences.

Shraddha Changune
SVKM’s Institute of Technology, Dhule


1. https://positive-stud.medium.com/what-does-volatile-and-non-volatile-memory-actually-mean-78d152123fdc
2. https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/difference-between-volatile-memory-and-non-volatile-memory/
3. https://www.tutorialspoint.com/difference-between-volatile-memory-and-non-volatile-memory

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.