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Basic question, but is only information/ data stored in ram? Are computer files such as a word file considered information/ data? This is one of the questions in a summer assignment for ap computer science.

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  • $\begingroup$ I fail to see how this is a computer science question; community votes, please! (I recommend you read up on von Neumann's ideas, which most computers in use today implement to some extent.) $\endgroup$ – Raphael Aug 26 '15 at 7:23
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RAM is just a really fast hard disk (except the contents are usually lost if powered down). It can store anything you could store on a hard disk (programs, documents, pictures, temporary data,...).

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Data and information $-$ as storable entities, not as sequences of events $-$ are related concepts, but the difference between them is clear enough. To make it short, data can be defined as the representation of information, usually stored in somewhat large scale, not yet given a specific purpose or particular interpretation, and encoded in a such a way as to be decodable, and eventually operable.

That said, computer memory (of any kind) will not necessarily contain data (or information). A set of bits is not data if we don't have access to the patterns used to encode information on it. Conversely, computers are not the only kind of information/data processing machine that exists.

Even though you can say that a Microsoft Word file stored on a hard disk is information, it will have to be loaded on RAM before it can be operated with, so you can say (if you want to be extremely acurate) that everything that has been stored outside of main memory is only potentially information.

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RAM (short for Random Access Memory) is computer memory that can be accessed randomly; i.e. any byte can be accessed without using the previous byte(s). So the answer to your. So yes, only information/data can be stored using RAM.

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As mentioned by Tom van der Zanden, RAM is in fact a storage medium much like a typical Hard Drive. Today you have what is called a Solid State drive which is essentially a lot of RAM. RAM as mentioned by AMACB is an Acronym for Random Access Memory. Essentially the information that you are currently accessing is transferred from the Hard Drive onto the RAM chips installed on the motherboard, which is then buffered for usage by the CPU. Computer programs, word documents, etc are in fact Data stored on a computer. There is no way for a user to store content on a RAM Chip like you do on a hard drive (Dragging information off the hard drive onto the RAM Chip is not possible). However when creating a program you can use a command such as MALLOC, (Memory Allocation) to create a predetermined portion of RAM to be reserved specifically for a particular operation. The context of the question in this case is essentially more complicated than a yes or no. "Storing" a typical file directly onto the RAM is possible assuming the system never loses power. RAM is a "Volatile" storage medium, meaning that you lose the contents when the system loses power. Which is why you can edit a word document and lose power without saving that document and when you power the system back on you have lost all changes. The data is stored temporarily on the RAM until the user opts to Save his/her work through the Save As or Save option.

TLDR: Yes, but it wouldn't be wise.

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