Difference between Memory and Flash Storage

Updated on July 17, 2015

Computer memory is available in two distinct forms of volatile and non-volatile memory. It is easier to identify the differences between volatile and non-volatile memory by seeing the latter as permanent storage and the former as temporary storage.


Flash storage
Flash storage

Flash storage is the conventional memory used as hard drive on computers that stores data even when there is no power. There are different variations of flash memory that have been developed with the advances in technology. MicroSD (Secure Digital) cards, external hard drives and flash disks are all examples of the varieties of flash memory.

RAM (Random Access Memory)
RAM (Random Access Memory)

Memory, conventionally referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory), is the main memory of a PC when it is powered. RAM is used by the computer to run several applications and uses scheduling in allocating memory to each of the applications. It allows the user of a computer or devices such as smart phones and tablets that have such memory to navigate through the system with ease.

Comparison chart

Ram (memory)Flash storage
Expensive to developCheap and easy to develop and maintain
Operates only with power and loses all data for a session when power is switched off (volatile)Stores data even when there is no power (non-volatile)

Flash Storage vs Memory

What is the difference between memory and flash storage? Though both memory and flash memory are commonly referred to as ‘solid state memory’ they are very different. Let us compare them.

  • Flash memory is low cost and retains data when there is no power. It is much cheaper to buy and even produce by manufacturers than conventional memory. RAM is much more expensive and is only operable with power connection. One the power is turned off, all the memory stored for that session is lost.
  • The size of space that flash memory can have has been continually improved from a few bytes in the years the computer was invented to the current near infinite capacity of hundreds of terabytes. The size of these storage memory devices has also been decreasing with the increase in capacity and performance. RAM, on the other hand, has not been able to be developed in much greater sizes with current standard computers having RAMs of 1 to a maximum of 10 gigabytes of space. There are, however, super computers used by organizations like the military and space science programs that have much higher capacities. RAM has not been able to be significantly developed due to the high costs involved in the production.