Topics / Hardware and Software / Memory and Storage

Memory and Storage

Computer memory / storage can be classified in three ways; primary, secondary and off-line.

Primary, secondary and off-line storage diagram for GCSE


Primary memory is the computer’s main memory, which is directly accessible by the CPU and often much faster than secondary storage.

RAM will hold the loaded operating system, plus all running applications and files.

Examples of primary memory / storage:


Secondary storage is a non-volatile medium that holds data until it is deleted or overwritten.

It is sometimes referred to as external memory and auxiliary storage.  Secondary storage is where programs and data are kept on a long-term basis.

Examples of secondary memory / storage:


Off-line refers to non-volatile storage that can be easily removed from the computer.  This is often used to transport data and keep backups for protection.

Examples of off-line memory / storage:

Topics / Hardware and Software / Memory and Storage