Introducing ICT systems
Introducing ICT systems

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introducing ICT systems

11.3 Memory

An essential component of a computer is the memory which it uses to hold data currently being used by the processor. This is the random access memory (RAM), the computer's working memory in which programs and data are stored so that they can be accessed very quickly by the processor. The processor stores data in RAM and retrieves data from it as it carries out its manipulations. The more RAM a computer has, the faster the computer programs will run. RAM memory is used and reused and any data held in RAM is normally lost when the computer is turned off.

To ensure that essential data is not lost when the computer is switched off, all personal computers have a hard disk (sometimes called a hard drive) which can store data permanently. Part of the starting-up process of a computer is to copy start-up programs and data from the hard disk into the RAM, and all important data in the RAM is copied to the hard disk during the closing-down process. I'll discuss hard disks in more detail in Section 12.

There are other important components needed to make a modern computer work effectively, but the ones I've mentioned will suffice to illustrate the main ICT processes involved in a computing system.

Skip Your course resources

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371