How Do Computers Store Data?

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Computer store data as either temporary data, which is stored in the random access memory, or permanent data, which is stored on the permanent hard drive in the computer. Find out how computers store data with IT help from a software developer in this free video on computers.

Part of the Video Series: Computers & Laptops
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name's Dave Andrews, today I'm going to tell you how computers store data. Let's go to our desktop and I'm going to show you a couple of pictures here. There's two basic ways that a computer will store data, and the first one of those is temporary data and that gets stored in what's called random access memory or RAM. We'll click here, this is a picture of a chip of RAM. Basically, this is internal on your computer and it's popped into the mother board and this, these little chips of RAM allow the computer to store data that it's currently working on. They don't allow the permanent storage of data. They basically allow you to pull memory in from the hard drive which is a permanent storage of data and work on them and these little chips here that are on the RAM are basically temporary storage of data for the computer. Now once the power is cut off to a stick of RAM, each one of these little memory lose whatever it is that they were currently storing. It's sort of like a capacitor, if you've ever worked on one, you plug in a capacitor and it holds a charge, if you remove the power to the capacitor, it'll hold the charge for a little while but it will eventually lose its charge. That's basically how these work. The way that computers store data more permanently is through the hard drive. I'm going to pull up this picture of a hard drive right here. Hard drives have inside of them spinning platters, now these, hard drive stores data magnetically, basically like a reel of tape except it's flat. This little platter spins inside of the hard drive, and while it's spinning, this actuator arm moves along the surface of the hard drive to the point where it wants to load data. Right here on the tip is a little copper wire that actually touches the platter and it will read data from that magnetic strip that's on top of each of these platters, and that's how the computer loads in data. Now, when the computer wants to save data, it basically does it the other way around, it sends information to the copper wire which will then charge the platter while it's turning and magnetically store data. You can think of this almost like an advanced phonograph basically, except it uses instead of carving in ridges to the platter, it's basically storing data magnetically, and that's why you can delete files and create new files over, and over, and over, and over because it just reuses the space on this platter instead of having to actually dig into it. So, it's through these two devises that your computer uses and stores its data. My names Dave Andrews, and I've just told you how a computer stores data.

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