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Chapter 2: Backing storage and memory

You need to know: • The size of memory, backing storage and files are measured in bytes: 1 kilobyte = 1024 bytes 1 megabyte = 1024 kilobytes 1 gigabyte = 1024 megabytes 1 terabyte = 1024 gigabytes.

• RAM is main memory (random-access memory). Data and programs in main memory are lost when the computer is turned off.

• Backing storage saves your data when the computer is turned off. • Backing storage media includes: hard disks, CDs, DVDs, magnetic tapes, memory cards and memory sticks. • Flash memory is used for memory cards and memory sticks. • Backups are copies of files and help prevent data loss.

Bits and bytes
Bit (binary digit) patterns in memory and on backing storage represent, e.g. characters, numbers, graphics and sounds. A byte stores 8 bits, each of which can be either 1 or 0. Different computers access one, two, four or more bytes of data at a time. If a computer can read/write four bytes at once, this is 32-bit computing.

A computer’s main memory is RAM and ROM.
Comparison of RAM and ROM RAM Can be written to and read from. Holds programs being run and data being processed. Volatile – it is cleared when the computer is switched off. RAM microchips are supplied as a module (several chips on a small board) plugged into the motherboard. ROM Can only read from. Stores programs and data permanently. Non-volatile – it retains what is stored when the computer is turned off. ROM microchips are installed in the motherboard.
Flash memory in the computer Flash memory is a type of ROM that can be written to and read from and is used for the BIOS (basic input/output system) in PCs. This makes sure the computer starts up as it should and that all the parts of the computer work together.

Chapter 2: Backing storage and memory

• ROM (read-only memory) stores data permanently.

On each surface.1 The inside of fixed hard disk with moveable heads Types of hard disk: TOP TIP Do not confuse the hard disk and RAM memory. pen drives and USB pens. the data is stored in concentric tracks and there is a read/write head that moves in/out to the track where the data is saved. • A backing storage device is the DVD drive used to read the DVD.Backing storage devices and media Backing storage saves your files when the computer is turned off. Compatibility problems Many drives cannot read all types of CD and DVD. HD DVD and Blu-ray are optical disks and are read and written by a laser. for example. • Backing storage media is a DVD. They are: Chapter 2: Backing storage and memory • Inexpensive • Small • Lightweight • A convenient way of moving data from one computer to another.g. CDs are easily damaged but inexpensive. Optical disks CDs.7 GB. Read/write head Memory cards store up to 256 GB of data. Hard disks A magnetic hard disk stores 500 GB of data or more. There are many types. A dual-layer. ✓ • Internal hard disks are built into computers. Figure 2. including SD (Secure Digital) and mini and micro SD. • External hard disks are portable and often connected to a computer by USB. single-layer DVD stores around 4. CDs (Compact disks) A CD stores around 700 MB. digital cameras and mobile phones. DVDs (Digital versatile disks) A single-sided. Data read/write is slower than a hard disk. e. for example. Flash memory Memory sticks store up to 32 GB of data and plug into the USB port on a computer. They are used in. e.g. There are many different types of CD and DVD. twosided DVD stores 18 GB. some CD players do not play MP3 files. The hard disk stores your work when the computer is switched off whereas RAM is cleared. for example: 12 • Data can be read from but not written to CD-ROM and DVD-ROM. • CD-RW and DVD-RW can be rewritten repeatedly up to 1000 times. . Data read/write is slower than a hard disk. Often used for movies. Memory sticks are sometimes called USB sticks. DVDs.

save it on the internal hard disk in your PC and save a backup on an external hard disk). • When a file is lost and needs to be recovered. • Backing storage devices can be enclosed in fireproof. • Can be saved anywhere in the world. Figure 2. .g. to DVDs). waterproof and bombproof containers. 3. e.2 An external hard drive Backup A backup is a copy of a file. • Software keeps track of when backups were taken and where they are stored. • In another location far away in case local backups are all destroyed.• DVD-RAM may be sealed in a cartridge and can be rewritten more than 100 000 times. due to a hard drive crash. 13 Chapter 2: Backing storage and memory Make regular backups so you have a recent copy in case your work is corrupted or lost. in a fireproof safe in the same building. Backup a file each time you edit it (e. Magnetic tape cartridges are often used for backup. • In a fireproof safe nearby in case the building burns down. Name two types of backing storage media used for backup. Magnetic tape cartridge. Worked Example 1. definition movies. 3. Give one reason why a backup is taken. TOP TIP You need to make backups of your own work and do this systematically. Describe three places you would store a backups. Used for high-definition Magnetic tapes A magnetic tape stores a great quantity of data but read/write is slow because it is serial access – the tape is read from the beginning to find the data needed.g. 2. • HD DVD is similar to a DVD but with sufficient capacity for high • A dual-layer Blu-ray disk can store 50 GB. and backup all your files every month (e. ✓ In an accessible location near to the computer. Answers 1. So you have a copy in case your work is corrupted or lost. Apply the theory to your practice. in another city. movies. external hard disk.g. the backup software searches for the most up-to-date version. Used to store data for up to 30 years. 2. Keep backups of your personal files: • Next to the computer for convenient use. Backups of large ICT systems with networked hard disks: • Usually done every day automatically over the network.

Try to avoid such misconceptions and demonstrate you understand why they arise. Preparing backup storage media so that it can store your files is known as: A formatting B optical storage C backup D storage capacity (1 mark) 9. each point you make should mention both technologies. Describe two differences between RAM and ROM. Why is a hard disk with fixed read/write heads likely to access data faster than a hard disk with moveable heads? (1 mark) (1 mark) 8. A memory stick stores 2 GB of data. Many people think main memory and the hard disk are the same. Describe two differences between a USB memory stick and a hard disk. How many CDs are needed to store the same data? A 4 B 3 C 6 D 2 (1 mark) 3. (2 marks) 7. and how they are different. (4 marks) 6. Which of the following is storage media? A CD B DVD drive C a kilobyte D printer (1 mark) 5. A DVD is an example of: A a hard disk B RAM C an optical disk D flash memory 4. ✓ 14 . (2 marks) TOP TIP When you are asked to describe the differences between two technologies.Exam-Style Questions 1. Which of these provides the largest storage capacity? A 5 GB B 128 MB C 1 TB D 20Kb (1 mark) 2. ✓ Chapter 2: Backing storage and memory TOP TIP Many people wrongly use the term ‘memory’ when referring to both the hard disk and main memory. Describe how they are similar.