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A primary storage device is a component in your computer that stores information for
a short period of time. A primary storage device should not be confused with a
"primary storage drive," which would be a hard drive that holds the operating system
in your computer, like "Local Disk (C:)."
Primary memory is storage where your computer stores instructions and information
about programs it is currently running.
Primary storage is much faster than Secondary Memory, but it cannot be used to
store information in the long term.
Primary storage is volatile (unstable); as soon as the power is turned off, all of the
information in it is lost.

Examples of Primary Storage Devices

A primary storage device is a component in your computer that stores information for a
short period of time.


RAM is a primary storage Device. RAM, or random access memory, stores

information that is being processed.
RAM, also called read/write memory, is like a chalkboard. You can write
notes, read them, and erase them when you no longer need them.

Processor Cache

The processor, also known as the CPU (central processing unit), processes
information on your computer.
In order to do this, it needs somewhere to store the information, which in this
case is the "cache memory."
The cache memory transfers data at fast speeds so it can be processed by the
cores in the processor.
The cache memory holds a lot less space than RAM, however. For example, a
processor will usually have around 12 MB of cache memory, whereas RAM may
have up to 4 GB .
However, the cache memory makes up for that in sheer speed. For instance, RAM
will have a speed of 800 Mhz, while the cache memory can operate at 2.4 Ghz.

Processor Registers

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The processor registers are the smallest and fastest of all primary storage
Typically, they hold around 32 to 64 bits, which is good enough for very simple
processes such as math calculations.
They are primarily used by the processor to handle calculations used to operate
the programs.
The larger processes involving software and operating system files are handled
by the cache memory.


The last type of memory we briefly introduce here is called secondary storage or
auxiliary storage.
This is memory outside the main body of the computer where we store programs and
data for future use.
Secondary (auxiliary) storage media extends the storage capabilities of the
We need secondary storage for two reasons. First, because the primary storage is
limited in size and it cannot always hold all the data we need. Second, in secondary
storage, data and programs do not disappear when power is turned off.
Secondary storage media are nonvolatile memories. This means the
information is lost only if you or the users intentionally erase it.

Secondary storage device

secondary storage is a storage medium that holds information until it is

deleted or overwritten.
For example, a floppy disk drive and hard disk drive are both good examples
of secondary storage devices.
As can be seen by the below picture there are three different storage on a
computer, although primary storage is accessed much faster than secondary
Finally, although off-line storage could be considered secondary storage,
we've separated these into their own category because this media can be
easily removed from the computer and stored elsewhere.

Types of Secondary Storage Devices

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Secondary storage is defined as a storage medium that is separate from the processor and
holds data even with no power passed to it. An example is a hard drive or an optical drive.
USB Drives

A USB flash drive is a type of flash memory storage device integrated with a
universal serial bus interface. Usually portable and rewritable, some can hold up to 300
Floppy Disks


Floppy disks are a storage medium made of a thin magnetic disk. They were widely
used from the 1970s to the 1990s. Storage capabilities ranged from 1.5 Mb to 200 MB on
some versions.


A CD-R (compact disc- recordable) is an optical secondary storage device invented by

Sony and Philips. It is also known as a WORM (write once read many) medium. Usually
has a storage capacity of 700 MB.


DVD-R (Digital Video Disk- recordable) has a storage capacity of usually 4.1 GB. There
is also an 8.54-GB dual-layer version, called DVD-R DL.
Magnetic Tape


Magnetic tape has been in use for more than 50 years. It is (in recent years)
packaged in cartridges/cassettes. The average amount of storage is 5 MB to 140 MB for
every standard-length reel (2,400 feet).

What is virtual memory?

If your computer lacks the random access memory (RAM) needed to run a program or
operation, Windows uses virtual memory to compensate.
Virtual memory combines your computers RAM with temporary space on your hard disk.
When RAM runs low, virtual memory moves data from RAM to a space called a paging file.
Moving data to and from the paging file frees up RAM to complete its work.
The more RAM your computer has, the faster your programs will generally run. If a lack of
RAM is slowing your computer, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory to
compensate. However, your computer can read data from RAM much more quickly than from
a hard disk, so adding RAM is a better solution.
Virtual memory and error messages

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If you receive error messages that warn of low virtual memory, you need to either add more
RAM or increase the size of your paging file so that you can run the programs on your
computer. Windows usually manages the size automatically, but you can manually change
the size of virtual memory if the default size is not enough for your needs.
Change the size of virtual memory
If you receive warnings that your virtual memory is low, you'll need to increase the minimum
size of your paging file. Windows sets the initial minimum size of the paging file at the
amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer plus 300 megabytes
(MB), and the maximum size at 3 times the amount of RAM installed on your computer. If
you see warnings at these recommended levels, then increase the minimum and maximum

Open System by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel,

clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking System.


In the left pane, click Advanced system settings.

If you are prompted for an
administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.


On the Advanced tab, under Performance, click Settings.


Click the Advanced tab, and then, under Virtual memory, click Change.


Clear the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives check box.


Under Drive [Volume Label], click the drive that contains the paging file you want
to change.


Click Custom size, type a new size in megabytes in the Initial size
(MB) or Maximum size (MB) box, click Set, and then click OK.

Increases in size usually don't require a restart, but if you decrease the size, you'll need to
restart your computer for the changes to take effect. We recommend that you don't disable
or delete the paging file.
1 bit (binary digit*) = the value of 0 or 1
8 bits = 1 byte
1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte
1024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte

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1024 megabytes = 1 gigabyte

1024 gigabytes = 1 terabyte
1024 terabytes = 1 petabyte

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