Non-Volatile Storage

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What Does Non-Volatile Storage Mean?

Non-volatile storage (NVS) refers to a computer memory that is able to hold saved data even if there is no power, and does not require periodic refreshes of its memory data. Non-volatile storage is commonly useful for secondary storage or long-term consistent storage.


Non-volatile storage is also known as nonvolatile memory.

Techopedia Explains Non-Volatile Storage

Nearly all types of non-volatile storage have limitations that make them unfit to use as a primary storage. Usually, non-volatile storage is either more expensive or delivers poor performance when compared to volatile random access memory (RAM). The most commonly used type of primary storage is the volatile form of RAM, which means that if the computer is switched off, anything saved in RAM is erased.

Numerous organizations are engaged in developing non-volatile storage models that have the same speed and capabilities of volatile RAM. These technologies not only save energy, but also permit computers to be switched on and off very quickly, skipping the time-consuming start-up and shutdown routine.

Non-volatile data storage can be classified into two types:

  • Mechanically Addressed Systems: This includes optical disks, hard disks, holographic memory, magnetic tapes, etc.
  • Electrically Addressed Systems (read-only memory): These are more expensive, but faster, than mechanically addressed systems, which are affordable, but slow.

Non-volatile storage is highly popular in digital media, and is widely used in memory chips for USB memory sticks and digital cameras.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.