Memory vs Storage on Mac: Differences & All You Need to Know

Wendy Wu
Last updated: Mar 21, 2024

This post is about Memory vs Storage, helping you clarify their differences.

Are you confused about Memory vs Storage while picking a Mac? Or just be curious about the differences between these two terms?

Learn more about the comparison: Memory vs Storage and figure out their difference in this post. Keep reading!

Memory vs storage on Mac

What Is Memory on a Mac?

Memory, also known as Random Access Memory (RAM), is your Mac's temporary storage space. It stores data and instructions that your Mac's processor needs to access quickly.

When you use applications or run tasks, the related data is loaded into RAM for fast access and processing. The more memory space there is, the more applications you can run at once and the faster you can open them.

However, Memory is volatile, which means that data will be deleted once the computer is off.


Activity Monitor offers you quick access to check Memory space and usage on Mac. Here is how:

  1. Open Activity Monitor via Spotlight.
  2. Click the Memory tab.
  3. Memory Used and Physical Memory will show up at the bottom.
Check Memory in Activity Monitor

What Is Storage on a Mac?

Storage refers to your Mac's long-term storage space, which stores the operating system, applications, files, and media permanently. It includes the hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD).

Unlike Memory, storage will keep data even when the computer is powered off.

If you want to check how much storage space your Mac has, follow the steps: Go to Apple menu>System Settings>General>Storage.
Check Mac Storage

Memory vs Storage: What Are Their Differences

To make their differences clear and easy to understand, here we made a table for you.

Memory vs Storage

As the table shows, the main differences between Memory and Storage are:

  • Memory has a much smaller capacity than storage (The space capacity of Memory is up to 64 GB, while Storage is 2TB).
  • Data in memory will disappear after the computer is off, while data in storage stays even when the computer is off.
  • Storage needs an interface, for example, commonly used SATA, to communicate with the CPU.

Memory vs Storage: How Much Should You Pick


For daily use, 8 GB is already enough. While, if you need to run multitask simultaneously, 16 GB may be a good choice.


256 GB Storage is a common choice for Mac users. I have a Mac mini with 256 GB storage. It still left with almost half of the storage space after almost half a year. Although I always download many tools for testing, 256 GB storage is fully enough for me.

If you want to download more apps, store more files, photos, etc., you can choose a larger size.

Bonus: How to Free Up Space on Mac

For the latest Mac/MacBook, upgrade RAM/Storage is unavailable. So, it's important to free up RAM and Storage space.

However, freeing up storage space on your Mac manually may be time-consuming. BuhoCleaner offers you a one-stop solution to free up storage space on your Mac in minutes.

DownloadFor macOS 10.10 and above
100,000+ Satisfied Users Worldwide

Take a look at its main features:

  • Free up space with its Flash Clean, Large File feature in minutes.
  • Uninstall apps together with their leftovers completely.
  • Find and delete duplicate files easily.
  • Manage startup items overall.
  • Free up RAM with 1 click.
Free up RAM and storage on Mac with BuhoCleaner


Are you clear about Memory vs Storage now? By comprehending these differences and managing them effectively, you can optimize your Mac's performance and make the most of its capabilities.

Memory vs Storage FAQs

  1. Can You Upgrade RAM on Mac?

    For some earlier Macs/MacBooks, you can upgrade RAM. While for the latest Macs/MacBooks, it is directly soldered to the motherboard.

  2. Can You Upgrade Storage on Mac?

    Some Macs/MacBooks' Storage is upgradable. However, using an external hard drive to store files, photos, etc. may be more convenient than upgrading Storage.

Wendy Wu is a tech enthusiast with a deep passion for all things iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Wendy is always on the lookout for Apple products and is committed to providing Apple users with some of the latest information and useful tips.