There are two kinds of memory; both are measured in megabytes. One megabyte is a million bytes. One byte is one letter or character (such as a space, dash, or question mark). One page of text is about 2,000 bytes. Hence, 500 pages of text equal one megabyte. Hard drives now are so large they have thousands of megabytes, one thousand megabytes is one gigabyte.
One type of memory is R.A.M. (Random Access Memory). RAM is like a chalkboard for the CPU, where it writes all the information down. It is also the CPU?s work space for calculations, instructions, etc. similar to a person?s short-term memory.
The more RAM the better, 512 Megabytes is the recommended minimum (as of May 2004). Minimum RAM recommendations usually
double every 2 years or so.
Remember that the RAM on a computer is emptied every time you turn off the computer, it forgets everything (the chalkboard is erased). That is why when you turn your computer on, it is not immediately ready. It is loading all the instructions about how to operate the peripherals, and it is loading the operating system.
As technology improves more type of RAM become available (chalkboards vs. whiteboards). We recommend http://www.crucial.com. This site not only answer all your questions but provide a RAM crossreference to ensure you buy the right type of RAM for your PC.
The hard drive is like the CPU?s filing cabinet. Every time the computer turns on, the CPU?s RAM is empty so it learns all over again by reading the information on the hard drive. Like long-term memory.
A big hard drive doesn?t mean that it is a fast hard drive. A fast hard drive allows the CPU to retrieve and read the data quicker. But when it comes to size there is no such thing as having too much space. So you need to take into account both the size and rotation speed of the hard drive. Windows XP is Hard Drive hungry, with all the auto saves and built in system restores I recommend at least a 40 Gigabyte drive at 7200 RPM (As of September 2002).
The data stored on the hard drive is organized into directories.
The hard drive is controlled by a chip on the mother board called the hard disk controller (See Computer Peripherals).
Article last reviewed: 05/30/2004