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Difference between Primary Memory and Secondary Memory

Difference between Primary Memory and Secondary Memory

Computers use two main types of memory: primary and secondary. The two serve different purposes, and understanding their differences is essential to using a computer effectively. Primary memory, which is also called RAM (random access memory), stores the information currently being used by the computer. Secondary memory, which is typically slower but can hold more data than primary memory, consists of hard drives, optical discs, and flash drives. This article will provide an overview of each type of memory and explain how they work together to make your computer run smoothly.

What is Primary Memory?

Primary Memory is the part of the computer’s memory where data is stored for quick access by the CPU. Primary Memory is also known as “main memory” or “system memory”. It is a volatile memory, meaning that it only stores data while the power is on. Once the power is turned off, all data stored in Primary Memory is lost. Primary Memory is faster than secondary memory, such as a hard drive or SSD, but it is also more expensive. Primary Memory is typically made up of DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) chips. The most common type of DRAM used in Primary Memory is DDR4 SDRAM.

What is Secondary Memory?

  • Secondary Memory is a computer memory that is not directly accessible by the CPU. It is typically slower than primary memory, but it can store more data. Secondary Memory can be either internal or external to the computer.
  • Internal Secondary Memory includes devices like hard drives and solid state drives. External Secondary Memory usually comes in the form of portable storage devices, like USB flash drives and SD cards.
  • Secondary Memory is important because it provides a place to store data and programs permanently, even when the computer is turned off. Without Secondary Memory, data would be lost every time the computer was turned off. That’s why Secondary Memory is such an important part of any computer system.

Difference between Primary Memory and Secondary Memory

Primary memory is the main memory of a computer where the currently executing programs are kept. This memory is directly accessible by the CPU. Primary memory is volatile and data in primary memory gets lost when power is turned off.RAM (Random Access Memory) and Cache Memory are examples of Primary Memory.

Secondary memory is used to store data permanently.Hard disk, floppy disk, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM etc. are examples of secondary memory. Data stored in secondary memory cannot be directly accessed by the CPU and needs to be brought into primary memory or cache before it can be used. Also, unlike primary memory, data in secondary memory persists even after power is turned off.


The difference between primary and secondary memory is an important distinction to make when it comes to understanding how people learn. Primary memory is where information is stored for a very short amount of time, usually just long enough for the person to complete the task at hand. Secondary memory is where longer-term memories are housed, and these memories can be recalled whenever necessary. By understanding this difference, we can better understand how people learn and remember new information.

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