What is the Difference Between Memory and Storage?

For those who deal with computers regularly, it is common to ask what is the difference between memory and storage. Both these devices seem rather similar to each other. We will explore this further in this article.

With the initial development of computers, the computing technology evolved extremely fast, and it is still growing at very rapid pace. Computers took over the lives of humans making a lot of things simpler. Computers execute calculations based on billions in just a fraction of a second. The size of computers is decreasing day by day and the capability to perform seemingly impossible tasks is increasing.

With this evolution of these hi-tech machines, the technology is also becoming very difficult to be understandable by a common person. Of all the components in a computer, there are few components which every user knows. But there are very few who actually know what all these devices actually do and how do they do it.

A lot of computer users do not comprehend the difference between a Storage device and a Memory device. And some of the people who really can distinguish, cannot identify the variance.

There are numerous types of storage devices these days. If you are one such individual who is not able to tell the difference between these two things, this editorial will help you answer the question, what is the difference between memory and storage.

A Data Storage Device; What is it?

What is the Difference Between Memory and Storage

A data storage device is the component of your computer which stores your data so that you can use it at any stage later on. A Data Storage Device can store files, applications and other media to be used at any time whenever needed.

Furthermore, it can be anything like a Floppy disk, a hard disk, a cassette, a compact disk CD, DVD, SD cards, Flash drive, and even an iPod are a few examples. Data storage devices record your data in different forms like information in text, acoustic signals in audio formats, and electromagnetic waves in the form of motion pictures, etc. with the help of various data recording devices.

A data storage device may keep the data or process that data or it can perform both these tasks. Those devices which can only clasp the data are called recording devices, for example, a cd, a recording cassette, etc. whereas those devices which can process that stored data are distinct.

Devices which read that data require separate data recording devices to read data kept in them. Sometimes it is built-in with the data reading devices. However, most of these devices can perform with the separable recording devices to execute the maneuvers like reading data and processing it.

Different forms of Data Storage Devices:

Data stored in recording devices may be in many formats. To read that data, diverse kinds of data reading devices are required.

For an electronic data storage device, electrical power is needed to complete the operations.

For electromagnetic data, this category of data is stored in either analog form or digital form. This form of data is called electronically encoded data which is stored in some type of electronic component like a semiconductor.

This storage of data is considered to be non-destructive because it cannot be destroyed once it is written on the recording device. This means that the data will be existent in its original arrangement even if power is cut off.

However, this is not the case with the data recorded by electronic means in computer microchips. Data recorded in Microchips in computers is not stored lastingly. Therefore, the data vanishes after the power is cut off.

Memory Storage Device

memory storage devices

A Memory Storage Device which is also known as Primary Storage is a device which stores user’s data for a short period of time.

Memory Storage Devices are also known as RAM or DRAM. Random Access Memory or Dynamic Random Access Memory allows the computer to initiate certain operations that a user performs like opening a file, editing a manuscript, initiating applications and opening internet files.

The power and swiftness of performing computer actions depend on the amount of memory available to perform those actions. This manifestation can be explained with an example.

A Relatable Example

Let’s say that there is a table which contains a drawer and some space on top of the table. The table top is filled with many documents, and there is very less space to be used for any other document. The more space, the more documents can be placed from the drawer and vice versa. Memory Storage Device is the table in this example, the higher amount of Memory Storage available, the larger number of tasks can be activated.

Memory Storage Device is the table top in this case. The greater the amount of Memory Storage available, the larger number of tasks can be activated. The drawers would be the Data Storage devices.

How does it work?

Memory is often associated with semiconductor memory which is made up of microcircuits and integrated circuits based on millions of silicon transistors. There are actually two types of Memory Storage Devices. One is known as Volatile Memory Storage Devices, and other is known is as Nonvolatile Memory Storage Devices.

Nonvolatile Memory is called secondary storage memory. Read Only Memory (ROM), Programmable Read-Only Memory (PROM), and some other memory storage devices are Secondary Memory Storage Devices. These devices are basically flash memory storage devices. They are responsible for keeping the record of system operations like BIOS which is the firmware to run the computer operations.

Volatile Memory Storage Devices are Primary Memory Storage Devices accountable for performing basic and common operations.

Dynamic Random Access Memory and CPU Cache memory which is known as Static Random Access Memory or SRAM. SRAMs are enormously fast but are more energy consuming thus hotter than DRAMs. Solid State Device is one example of unconventional Memory Storage Device.

Furthermore, Virtual Memory is a computer-controlled operating system. Every time a program needs memory to achieve a process the memory is delivered by the OS to the application. This process is measured and examined by Memory operations in OS.


A Data Storage Device is intended to stock data in different formats for a long period of time. Whenever needed, it can be retrieved by the user at any occasion.  Data can be in diverse forms. It can be electronic; it can be analog or digital or even it can be in the form of waves and signals. This data is obtained through output devices like monitor screen, speakers, printers, etc.

Memory, on the other hand, is the means which drives the data. Thus Memory is a vital part of the route to get an output. The larger the volume of memory available the superior the speed of processing data stored in Data Storage Device.

This article should have given you a birds-eye-view answer to the important question, what is the difference between memory and storage. It would take a book to explain both in detail. Fortunately, there is a plethora of information available online.