Do you struggle to understand the real meaning of computer terms like memory, ram, and hard drive?

This video will clarify what they mean and how they impact your computer performance.



CPU (central processing unit)  This is the brain of you computer

RAM (random access memory)  Sometimes called memory.  This is the faster storage used by computer while it is powered on and Windows is running.  Everything in RAM is lost when the computer is turned off or the program is closed.

Hard Drive: permanent storage.  Items stored on a hard drive are saved even when there is no power to the machine.

Transcription of Video:

Good morning this is Michael Firey with Fireytech.  I am in one of our onsite computer repair vans and I just got through running a couple of on-site computer repair service calls. I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things I saw on this ticket that I run into a lot.  It is confusion about memory versus hard drive storage, ram, all these terms that computer techs throw around that we understand but the layman may not understand these computer repair terms.  I wanted to try to bring some clarity and help you out with that.  As always, with all these computer issue discussions, Fireytech is happy to help you if you can’t figure out how to fix your own computer.

We are very good at onsite computer service calls with making your computer run better, making your network run better, making your wireless network run well.  We are always happy to help with any computer issue by scheduling an onsite service call to resolve it with one of our excellent and professional computer service techs.  Our number is 918-258-FIRE or 918-258-3473 and our website is  You can send a request to us through our website and one of our great computer repair schedulers will call you and set up an appointment to resolve all your computer problems.

With this particular situation, this gentleman’s computer was running like molasses.  It was as slow as dirt.  Anything he would click on would take forever to load.  I ran a quick little computer performance analysis using a built-in Windows program and the report showed that his cpu was running at a good level of only 10 percent usage but his hard drive and ram (memory) were maxed out, running at 90 – 100 percent almost full time.  He had 4 gigabytes of memory (ram) and his hard drive was about 250 gigabytes.  Hard drives can range from 250 gigabytes to 500 gigabytes and even 1 terabyte.

What you find out in this situation is that a lot of computer end users don’t understand the difference between ram, memory, storage, all these terms.  When our computer techs talk about the permanaent storage, we are speaking about the physical hard drive in the computer.  Your hard drive has permanent storage so when you turn your computer off it retains all of it’s installed programs, your data files, and the Windows operating system.  Many times computer repair customers will use the terms ram or memory when they actually mean the hard drive.  Ram or memory is actually a small chip inside your computer that Windows uses to load active programs from the hard drive permanent storage and run them instead of just storing them dormantly.  Ram is designed to create a buffer between the cpu (central processing unit), the real brain of your computer, and the hard drive permanent storage.  The reason this buffer exists is because the hard drive transfer rate speed is much much slower than the memory chip transfer rate.  When you open a program in Windows, Windows is designed to pull as much of that active program from the hard drive and load into the memory chip so that the active program and the computer runs more quickly.  When your computer memory is maxed out, Windows is forced to use the hard drive as a replacement for memory and since the transfer rate is much slower on the hard drive it takes longer for the cpu and the hard drive to talk to each other so it bogs down the entire machine.  With your computer, you want to make sure you have the most memory (ram) possible so Windows has enough space to temporarily open all the programs and features you are requesting without having to shuttle items back and forth from the hard drive.  Your hard drive’s transfer rate for the purpose of permanent storage is sufficient for that task even though it’s much slower than the ram transfer speed.

In this situation our on-site computer repair customer had 4 gigabytes of ram.  I ran a quick scan using a little program you can download from that you can use to determine how much memory your computer has, what type of computer memory is installed, and how much memory your computer is capable of handling.  It is hard to know what kind of computer memory your computer has by looking in Windows or even at the actual memory chips themselves.  There are several types of computer memory: DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, and so on.  The scan tool at takes all the guesswork out and gives you reliable information about your computer.  I ran a quick test on his computer, he has 4 gigabytes, his computer is capable of handling 16 gigabytes of computer memory.  Since his computer is maxing out the memory usage and spilling over into the hard drive, we are going to look at getting his computer upgraded to hold as close to 16 gigabytes of ram based on what he can afford with his budget.  Even if we only doubled his current ram, his computer would run much faster that he would be able to notice.

This is one of those things Fireytech runs into a lot when going around running onsite computer repair in Tulsa.  We know there is confusion with many computer repair customers so hopefully this video sheds some light on the terms and brings some clarity to you.  As always, if all of this is a little beyond what you are willing to do, feel free to call Fireytech at 918-258-3473 to set up an on-site computer repair and we would be happy to come to your home or come to your office to repair your computer and upgrade your computer.  We want to make things understandable for you and easy when it comes to onsite computer repair Tulsa.

Thanks for taking the time to watch the video and we hope you have a great day!