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In its most basic sense, memory refers to any information or data, often in binary format, that a machine or technology can recall and use. There are many different kinds of memory in conventional computers and other devices, and they differ based on the complex design of the hardware in which they're stored.
As new devices continue to emerge to complement traditional desktop and laptop computers, the ways that devices use memory may become more complex. It’s critical for users and buyers to understand each type of memory, and how they are used, in order to make good buying decisions.
One critical distinction in the use of the term memory involves differentiating random access memory (RAM) from generic storage memory, which is what's often measured in gigabytes on modern devices and is simply used to store data. RAM is a very different kind of memory, both in the way it is stored, and how it is used. Computers use RAM actively during a session, and when the device is reset, the RAM is cleared. By contrast, data in storage memory remains, and the computer accesses it through a hard drive.