Can RAM Be Infected by a Computer Virus?

by Arn Goldman
Unlike other computer hardware, RAM cannot get viruses.

Unlike other computer hardware, RAM cannot get viruses.

All computers, be they PCs or Macs, employ Random Access Memory (RAM). The most common types of RAM provide temporary storage of data that resets or disappears each time the user switches off the computer. Physically, RAM consists most often of thin, rectangular sticks.

Viruses

Viruses come in many forms.

Computer viruses come in many shapes and forms. Trojan viruses and worms appear quite often as common virus types. Like the mythological entity, Trojans appear in ostensibly innocuous forms and then transform into extremely damaging entities. Worm viruses spread quickly over networks and access vital system files.

Virus and RAM Interaction

For a virus to execute, it must in some way interact with a computer's RAM, because all programs influence the RAM to run. However, when a user turns off the computer, the virus leaves the RAM and stores somewhere else in the computer, such as the hard drive.

RAM Virus Infection

Technically, viruses cannot infect RAM because RAM clears itself every time a computer starts up. However, viruses may infect the RAM when they run, bogging down the computer and rendering the RAM ineffective. Some viruses avoid RAM completely and interact with the operating system or hard drive.

RAM Virus Risk

Users need not worry about spreading viruses through RAM sticks. If you move a module of RAM from an infected computer into a virus-free one, you will not transfer a virus or any other data onto the computer.

Virus Prevention

All computer users should run antivirus software at all times. Modern antivirus software connects to online databases to stay informed about the latest viruses, thus helping to protect your computer from the risk of getting infected.

About the Author

Arn Goldman is a recent liberal arts grad interested in all things culture, both high and low. He writes about entertainment, tech and sports. Goldman received his B.A. in English and philosophy in 2009 and has written for eHow, Trails Travel and Answerbag.

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