RAM, or random access memory, is the storage space for data used by the operating system and other programs while the computer is in use. RAM is volatile, meaning that it exists only while the computer is powered on and changes along with the system's immediate requirements.
RAM is accessed quickly by the computer's systems and software and stores data and applications along with programs. The graphic user interface, or GUI, is also stored in RAM. Once the computer is turned off, RAM is cleared and only starts up again when the system is rebooted.
As computing technology has evolved, RAM has been a key component in the evolution. As operating systems such as Windows or Macintosh OS become increasingly complex, they require more and more space for data storage - or RAM. Computer processors become faster and faster to respond to other technological innovations. The faster the processor, the more demands it makes on RAM.
RAM is part of the computer's CPU. Graphic cards may also have their own RAM. The other main type of computer memory is ROM, or read-only memory. ROM does not change and is located in the motherboard; it may also be found in graphic cards or other peripherals. ROM typically contains basic operating instructions for the computer and/or peripherals.