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Mid-Michigan Computer Consultants, Inc.
509 Center
Bay City, Michigan

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We're writing these answers to the typical end-user. Other computer types will probably find things that they'd describe differently. If you are one of those people, please bear with us and see if you agree that the general idea is correct.

One of the things that almost everyone has problems with is the difference in RAM and DISK. People ask if they need to delete files or uninstall some software to get more memory. They are confusing "memory" with "disk".

Here's our way of explaining how RAM and DISK relate.

The word RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM is the temporary, working memory of the computer. When you turn the computer on, its RAM starts empty. When you turn the power off anything stored in RAM evaporates.

DISK is permanent storage. When something is written to the disk it will stay there even when you turn power off. Disks come in many sizes and shapes from "hard" disks inside the computer to "floppy" disks that you can take out. Regardless of the form, all disks are just a type of magnetic recording material just like an audio cassette tape or a video tape.

The most common way to describe a disk is to think of it as a good old fashioned office file cabinet. If you write something on a piece of paper and put it in a folder it will stay there. You can organize the folders in the drawers any way that you want. You can also buy another file cabinet when you run out of room.
This is a good place to mention a disk "crash". A disk CRASH is like pulling the drawer out and dropping it, bending the rails and spilling the contents down the elevator shaft. You may get your stuff back but it's not likely.)

The way we like to describe RAM is to think of it as a BLACKBOARD. In this case, it's a blackboard that gets automatically errased every time you leave the room and turn off the lights.

The way things work is this, EVERYTHING that you do must be written on the blackboard. You can't directly read the file folders, they must be written on the blackboard. It's the ONLY way that ANYONE can see the data.

As the blackboard fills up you have no room to write anything else. One way that you can get more room is to write something from the board onto a piece of paper and file the paper in file cabinet (your disk). Now you can erase that piece of the board and put something else up there.

When you transfer something from the board to a piece of paper to get more room on the blackboard, you are NOT allowed to hold the slip of paper in your hand or lay it on the floor or have anyone else hold it. The paper MUST be properly filed in the cabinet.

When you need to refer to the information that you just erased and filed, you must "swap" something else from the board to the file cabinet. You find some space, write the current information on a piece of paper and file it away. Then you get the first piece of information and copy it back onto the blackboard. NO EXCEPTIONS ALLOWED... you can't just read from the paper in the file. It MUST be written onto the board.

That's "swapping".

So as things get moving, you spend most of your time just copying things to and from pieces of paper and filing them. Not much productive work gets done.

There are several solutions to this problem. First, just don't do as much work. Back in the DOS days you were limited to ONE thing at a time and were not allowed to exceed the space on the board. With Windows you can do as much as you want but things have to be swapped between RAM and DISK. Don't open as many tasks and Windows will run faster.

Of course, doing less work defeats the purpose of Windows. Therefore, the REAL solution is to get a bigger blackboard! For the computer that means more RAM. 8Mb was fine for Windows 3.xx and 16 was GREAT. For W95, 16Mb is about the minimum and 32 makes it start working OK. Give it 64Mb and W95 will begin to work pretty well.

Send e-mail to MMCC.
Write to MMCC Technical Support at:
MMCC, Inc.
600 W. Midland
Bay City, MI 48708
(989) 686-8860
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