Volatile Storage vs Non-Volatile Storage

Volatile and Non-Volatile storage are the two forms of storage in any computer system.

Volatile Storage

This is a type of computer memory that remains while there is power and the data is lost when power is switched off. A prime example of volatile memory is RAM. It is a type of primary storage. It allows the user to randomly access any part of the data regardless of its position in roughly the same time. This is not possible using other storage devices such as hard disks, CD’s etc. because they have physical constraints such rotation speeds, arm movements etc.

There are mainly two types of RAM available i.e. Static RAM (SRAM) and Dynamic RAM (DRAM).

Non-Volatile Storage

Non-Volatile is a type of computer memory that retains its data even when power is switched off. An example of non-volatile memory is ROM. It is read only memory. This memory cannot be changed, it can only be read as required. Since ROM is unchangeable memory, it is used by data and programs that are frequently required and seldom changed, like the system boot program.

Some differences about these are:


Volatile storage only retains data as long as there is power. When the power is switched off, the data is lost. On, the other hand, non volatile storage retains data even if power is lost.


Volatile storage is much faster than non volatile storage and is used to temporarily store process information. Non volatile storage is used to store data long term.


Volatile storage is quite expensive as compared to non-volatile storage. So it is only available for a few MB’s to a few GB’s in computer systems. Non-volatile storage is much larger, reaching the size of TB’s for hard drives.

Read/ Write

Volatile storage is read and write storage while non-volatile storage is read only storage usually.


Volatile storage is used as the primary storage in a system as the data can be quickly accessed. Non volatile storage is used for backup and long term storage.

Sensitive Information

Volatile storage is more suitable to protect sensitive information than non-volatile storage. This is because the information becomes unavailable once power is switched off.


RAM (Random Access Memory) is a type of volatile storage while ROM (Read Only Memory) is non-volatile storage.

Updated on: 20-Jun-2020

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