Last week we talked about how to manage your device storage. Let’s clarify the often confused terms—storage and memory. Both are measured in gigabytes (GB) but serve very different purposes.

New Laptop! 256 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM. What does this even mean?


Storage is the overall capacity of the device. It’s how many photos, music, files, and programs a device can hold.

Current popular storage amounts are 64 Gigabytes (GB), 128 GB, 256 GB, 500 GB, 1TB (1000 GB).

There are two types of storage. One is the old HDD or Hard Disk Drive which uses a spinning disk. The other is the newer SSD or Solid State Drive which you can think of as like a large USB stick inside your device. SSDs are currently more expensive, but are faster, more reliable, and use less energy than the older HDDs.


Computer memory is known as RAM or Random Access Memory. You will often find RAM in 2 Gigabytes (GB), 4 GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB. On your devices, memory is used as a quick way to read and write data related to the apps and programs you have open.

One way to imagine this is to think of storage as your file cabinet and memory as your work desk. You only keep on your desk what you are actively working on, and clear it off to work on something else.

If you work on lots of things simultaneously, like having multiple apps running at the same time, then you need a large desk (lots of memory/RAM). If you only work on one thing at a time but have tons of documents and photos to store, you need lots of file cabinet space (storage) but not a large desk.

Shopping Tip: Look at how much storage you are using on your current device to anticipate how much you will need on your new device. When looking at RAM/memory inquire about the possibility and cost of upgrading the RAM at a later date. It’s often possible to start with a base amount and upgrade it if needed. If you’re only ever checking emails and reading the news online, you don’t need upgraded amounts of RAM. If you plan to put the device to the test with games, photo editing, and web browsing all while listening to music you will want that extra RAM.

Do you have any storage and memory questions? Ask Edwin!

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