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Difference Between Volatile and Non Volatile Storage (With Table)

Storages are an integral part of a computer. Not only to store personal data but to also use the device. Whenever a system is in use, it stores two types of data including temporary and permanent data. Volatile and non-volatile storage are two types of storage that are used in systems to store this data.

Volatile vs Non Volatile Storage

The main difference between Volatile and Non Volatile Storage is that volatile storage refers to primary storage type such as RAM, whereas nonvolatile storage refers to secondary storage types such as ROM, hard disk, floppy disk, etc. Furthermore, the two differ in their speed, power consumption, and data storage, etc.

Volatile storage is the type of storage that stores the data temporarily in a system. These types of storages require a consistent flow of power to preserve the data. If the system is switched off by a power cut, any data stored in the volatile storage is deleted and cannot be recovered.

Nonvolatile storage is the type of storage that stores the data permanently in it. These types of storage do not require a consistent flow of power to preserve the data. Once the data is successfully uploaded on it, it retains the data even when the system is switched off by any means.

Comparison Table Between Volatile and Non Volatile Storage

Parameters of ComparisonVolatile StorageNon Volatile Storage
DefinitionIt is a primary storage type.It is a secondary storage type.
PowerIt requires consistent power.It doesn’t require consistent power.
DataIt stores data temporarily.It stores data permanently.
SpeedIt is faster.It is slower.
CapacityIt has less capacity.It has more capacity.

What is Volatile Storage?

Volatile storage is the type of storage that stores the data temporarily in a system. These types of storages require a consistent flow of power to preserve the data. If the system is switched off by a power cut, any data stored in the volatile storage is deleted and cannot be recovered. Due to the same reason, this memory type is called volatile storage. Random Access Memory (RAM) is the most common volatile storage.

Volatile storage like RAM is generally used as the primary storage in computer systems. Every task needs some amount of space to store the data. While a certain task is being performed, some data is temporarily stored in volatile memory. Due to this, if a system has more volatile memory, the better multitasking it can do. Furthermore, the amount of volatile storage used depends on the intensity of the task. This is why gaming systems come with more volatile memory.

The physical structure and electronic properties of volatile chips make them much faster than nonvolatile chips, which is what makes them ideal for a computer’s main storage. Furthermore, volatile storage is highly secure as it does not save any data permanently in the system. However, when compared to nonvolatile storage, volatile storage has much less capacity.

What is Non Volatile Storage?

Nonvolatile storage is the type of storage that stores the data permanently in it. These types of storage do not require a consistent flow of power to preserve the data. Once the data is successfully uploaded on it, it retains the data even when the system is switched off by any means. Nonvolatile storage is not directly accessed by the CPU and requires user permission to store data in it. ROM, hard disk drives, floppy disks, and magnetic tapes, etc., are of nonvolatile storage type.

Nonvolatile storage like hard disk drives is generally used as secondary storage in computer systems. All the user’s data including documents, videos, music, and files, etc. need to be preserved on the system. This data can be permanently uploaded on nonvolatile storage. Many nonvolatile storages are portable, which means that the stored data can be accessed on other systems as well. Nevertheless, nonvolatile storages are much slower than volatile storage.

When we talk about capacity, nonvolatile storages are available in very high capacities and can store terabytes of data permanently. Unless there is some hardware damage to the drive, the data stored on it is not lost. Additionally, the data can also be protected and kept private by a user-generated password, which makes it highly secure.

Main Differences Between Volatile and Non Volatile Storage

  1. In volatile storage, data is stored temporarily whereas, in nonvolatile storage, data is permanently stored.
  2. CPU has direct access to volatile storage whereas it has no direct access to data in nonvolatile storage.
  3. Volatile storage improves the system’s performance whereas nonvolatile storage increases the system’s storage capacity.
  4. The data stored in volatile storage is lost during a power cut whereas the data is not lost in nonvolatile storage as it is permanently stored.
  5. Volatile storage is faster in operations as compared to nonvolatile storage, which is much slower.

Conclusion

Volatile and nonvolatile storages are different in almost every aspect of sense. While the two are different in speeds, capacities, and practical uses, etc., both of them store some data in their respective manner. For even the basic operations on computer systems, RAM is required to store some data temporarily, which is a type of volatile storage. While performing intensive tasks, if the volatile storage is stored full with temporary data, tasks start crashing to free up this space.

On the other hand, while operating a computer, the user needs to save some data permanently. To store such data, nonvolatile storage is necessary. Thus, without both volatile and nonvolatile storage, it is practically impossible to operate on computers.

Volatile storage types have always been much faster than nonvolatile storage as it directly impacts the system’s performance. But with various advancements in technology these days, even nonvolatile storage devices have become extremely fast. Nevertheless, their speeds are still not subpar with any volatile storage.

Considering the current technology and intensity of various software, most computers come with at least 4 GBs of RAM, and at least 256 GB of pre-installed hard drives. Furthermore, for intensive tasks like gaming or video rendering, the requirement of RAM and storage space further increase significantly.

References

  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/fullHtml/10.1145/2814342
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369800104001003
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