Difference Wiki

ROM vs. RAM: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
ROM (Read-Only Memory) is non-volatile storage that permanently stores data, and RAM (Random Access Memory) is volatile memory used for creating a workspace for the processor to act upon data, which is temporary.

Key Differences

ROM and RAM serve pivotal roles in computer memory, with ROM being non-volatile and RAM being volatile. ROM remains intact even without power, preserving its stored data perpetually. In contrast, RAM loses its stored data the moment the power is turned off, since its storage is transient and only applicable while the system is active.
ROM’s fundamental attribute is its read-only characteristic, indicating that data written to ROM is “burned” into it during manufacturing and generally cannot be modified or (in most cases) written over by the computer's processor. Conversely, RAM is a memory medium that can be read from and written to by the processor, facilitating data retrieval and storage at remarkable speeds.
In the technological realm, ROM houses firmware and critical system instructions essential for booting up the computer. On the flip side, RAM serves as a rapid-access storage area where the operating system, applications, and data in current use are kept so they can be quickly reached by the computer's processor, ensuring smooth multitasking and swift data accessibility.
ROM engages predominantly during the boot-up process of a computer, releasing instructions vital for system initialization. Contrastingly, RAM comes into play by providing the necessary space for the processor to process data and run applications, substantiating its vitality in executing real-time operations and tasks.
In the broader computational context, the distinction between ROM and RAM can be paralleled to long-term and short-term memory respectively. ROM retains essential data that rarely, if ever, needs modification, whereas RAM offers a transient workspace, orchestrating active processes, and data manipulation, which underscores its impermanence and flexibility in computer operation.

Comparison Chart


Non-volatile (retains data without power).
Volatile (loses data without power).


Generally read-only and not easily modified.
Read/Write memory, easily modified.


Stores firmware and boot-up instructions.
Stores data, applications, and OS currently in use.


Slower compared to RAM.
Faster and enables quick data access and processing.

Dependency on Power

Does not depend on power to retain information.
Requires power to maintain stored information.

ROM and RAM Definitions


In technology, ROM often refers to storage media which is read-only, like CD-ROMs.
He inserted a CD-ROM to install the software on his computer.


In zoology, a ram refers to a male sheep, especially one that is of breeding age.
The farmer introduced a new ram into the flock to diversify the genetics.


ROM can also mean a type of game file in emulation, mimicking read-only cartridges.
He downloaded a ROM of his favorite childhood video game.


Ram can also denote a device, such as a hydraulic ram, used to apply force through a pounding or thrusting motion.
The construction worker used a hydraulic ram to break through the concrete.


In biological contexts, ROM (Range of Motion) describes the movement range of a joint.
After the injury, the athlete had limited ROM in his knee, affecting his performance.


RAM (Random Access Memory) is a type of computer memory that can be accessed randomly and is used by the operating system, applications, and data.
To enhance the performance of her computer, Linda decided to upgrade the RAM.


ROM may contain firmware which is integral for device functionality.
The ROM in printers contains firmware that communicates with the computer.


In ancient Egypt, the Ram represents Amun, a deity often associated with power and fertility.
Statues with the head of a ram are often associated with the god Amun in Egyptian history.


ROM is non-volatile memory that retains data even when the computer is turned off.
The BIOS is stored in the ROM to ensure the computer can boot up.


As a verb, "ram" means to forcefully strike or drive into something.
The car went out of control and rammed into the wall.


Digital memory hardware that allows fast access to permanently stored data but prevents addition to or modification of the data.


Digital memory hardware in which information can be accessed in any order with equal speed.


A Romani, especially a Romani man or boy.


(proofreading) roman


(computer science) memory whose contents can be accessed and read but cannot be changed


Does RAM retain data without power?

No, RAM is volatile and loses all stored data when power is lost.

What does RAM stand for?

RAM stands for Random Access Memory.

Can a computer run without RAM?

No, RAM is crucial for storing and quickly retrieving data for ongoing processes.

What is typically stored in ROM?

ROM typically stores firmware and system boot instructions.

Can RAM be upgraded in most computers?

Yes, RAM is commonly upgraded in computers to enhance performance.

Why is ROM necessary in embedded systems?

ROM in embedded systems stores the essential code needed for the system to perform its specific functions.

Is data stored in ROM permanent?

Yes, data stored in ROM is non-volatile and remains even without power.

Why is RAM crucial for computer performance?

RAM allows for the quick read and write access to a storage medium that's needed for many computer operations and multitasking.

What happens when a computer runs out of RAM?

It will start using the hard drive or SSD as a "page file" or virtual RAM, which is much slower.

Do smartphones also use RAM and ROM?

Yes, smartphones use RAM for multitasking and ROM for storing the firmware and other permanent data.

Is there a limit to upgrading RAM?

Yes, the motherboard has a limit to the amount and type of RAM it can support.

Can data in ROM be modified?

Generally, data in ROM cannot be easily modified or written over.

Can a computer function without ROM?

No, ROM is essential for storing the firmware that boots and initializes the computer.

Can ROM be used as a replacement for RAM?

No, ROM and RAM serve different functions and are not interchangeable.

What does ROM stand for?

ROM stands for Read-Only Memory.

Why is RAM faster than ROM?

RAM is designed to speed up the operation of a computer by providing quick data access.

Is ROM faster than secondary storage devices?

Typically, yes. ROM can be accessed faster than hard drives and SSDs but is slower than RAM.

Are ROM and RAM types of primary memory?

Yes, both RAM and ROM are considered types of primary memory.

Is it possible to have a computer with very high RAM but low ROM?

Technically yes, but generally, the capacity of ROM is proportionally smaller than RAM in standard computer configurations.

Why does a computer need ROM to boot up?

ROM stores the BIOS that the computer uses to boot up and initiate the hardware.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons