what is the difference between hardware memory, software memory and virtual memory?

I don't understand the difference between these. I always thought hardware memory was for things plugged into your computer... like a hi resolution graphics monitor. And I though RAM was software memory used specifically for the applications and randomly accessed depending on the applications you were using, and when you didn't have enough memory allocated to your application to complete a task in your application, you could use virtual memory (where it borrowed from the hardware memory) to support your the work of doing your task. I see on our computer that we only have memory - I see no indication of RAM nor virtual memory anymore. Our artist keeps crashing Photoshop and I believe it is because she is trying to resize it greatly. I was looking to increase the RAM, but now I am lost.
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  1. Best answer
    In very general terms, once you run any program it is copied from the hard drive into RAM. If there is too little available then some programs will utilise free space on your hard drive (virtual memory....the program will run much slower in this case).

    In the case of Photoshop (which can use up a lot of RAM) it may be that you need more of this type of memory (user-replaceable memory sticks located on your motherboard) .

    Run Photoshop. Assuming you have a Windows machine go into the Task Manager by holding down Crtl+Alt+Del keys then click on Start Task Manager.
    Now click on the Performance tab. At the lower left of the pop-up window and under Physical Memory, what does it say for "Available" and "Free".
  2. run
    it read your system info and tell you your mb and ram.
    with the mb info you can go to crucial and let there memory scanner tell you if you can add more ram and it gives your the part info.
    for the ccleaner...malware bytes and defrag. from a boot disk run memtest to see if the ram stick have any issues.
    ram physical ram is what on the mb and it fixed. the os and programs have to use this to run. virtual ram is the os using the hard drive when you run low on physical ram. you always want most system ram that you can add if your doing large images.
  3. RAM is hardware when you open a program it gets moved to the ram so any ongoing processes are stored in the ram so it can be called on more quickly. If your current ram is insufficient some applications will create virtual memory using your hard drive. Adobe Photoshop can be quite demanding but it uses more components then just RAM. Can you tell me the specs for the computer its running on (how much ram is there? what type of processor does it have? what kind of graphics card are you using?)
  4. I would say "Hardware memory" is memory that is included on a specific piece of hardware, such as graphic card memory. "Software memory" would be your system RAM. Virtual memory is temporary software memory that is allocated as additional hardware memory.

    Let's say your graphics card has 1GB of GDDR5 memory. A specific task/rendering of an image in Photoshop requires 1.5GB of hardware memory to complete. Your system will automatically allocate enough software memory (RAM) as virtual memory for the task to complete. Once complete, the task will release that virtual memory if it's required by the system.

    If there is not enough software memory in the system to allocate enough virtual memory, the application and system will crash.

    -Wolf sends
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