6 Replies Latest reply: Dec 11, 2012 5:24 AM by Limnos
Anything-but-a-nerd Level 1 (0 points)

So i dont speak computer and i am stuck! i want to buy a macbook air, but whats the difference between memory and hard drive??? i go to university, so i am not sure how much of it i will need, (constantly saving a lot of things). i dont know about the whole GB thing, how do i know how much i need?!?! PLEASE HELP

MacBook Air
  • mende1 Level 10 (92,231 points)

    Welcome to the Apple Support Communities


    Memory refers to RAM (random access memory). The system uses it to store process when your Mac is on, and it's erased when you turn off the Mac. I don't recommend less than 4 GB of memory on your Mac.


    Hard drive is the place where you store your files. Depending on what you want to do with your Mac, we can tell you if it's enough or you need more

  • Anything-but-a-nerd Level 1 (0 points)

    ok, so the one with 4GB of memory is fine? or should i upgrade to 8GB? the mac will be the only thing i will use (computer wise), like i download a lot of files, i have a lot of stuff on itunes(1208 songs, over 35 movies, 40 music videos, 30 tv show episodes, and a few podcasts, and constantly growing everyday)!!! its mainly for just university stuff. i couldnt tell you how much GB i use on my computer cause i would have no clue where to find it.... does that help with telling which one i should get?

  • mende1 Level 10 (92,231 points)

    Upgrade to 8 GB, because future updates will need it. If you want a MacBook Air, you can order it with 512 GB of flash storage (or hard disk), but it's expensive. If you want, you can buy an external disk to store some files and make backups, and buy a 11 or 13-inch MacBook Air with the hard drive size you prefer (64, 128 or 256 GB)

  • Anything-but-a-nerd Level 1 (0 points)

    alright thanks!! and one last question... i am going to sound soooo dumb, but can you plug in other brand stuff? (ie. not apple products) :/ just checking, but i sound stupid...

  • mende1 Level 10 (92,231 points)

    Of course. You can connect whatever you want to your Mac (external disks, headphones, displays...)

  • Limnos Level 8 (47,361 points)

    It used to be you could buy a computer and then upgrade the hardware as you went along to meet the demand of newer operating system versions.   I use a 10 year old computer that has limitations but has lasted a long time because I was able to upgrade as I went along.  Unfortunately with the Macbook Air you cannot do this and if you want the computer to last to the end of your studies you will have to take advance measures buy buying more computer right now than you really need for today's operating system.  Yes, it costs more, but it means that in 3 or 4 years when you want to install the latest operating system you won't get a message saying you cannot do it because you have too little "memory" and the only way you can get more is by buying a whole new computer.  In my case I was able to spend another $100 when I needed more memory, but not with today's computers.


    Get an external hard drive.  No, get two.  You always want a backup of your internal hard drive, unless you don't mind re-writing your whole term paper the night before it is due because your computer's drive crashed at the last minute and you didn't have a backup copy.  You want a second drive because these nice tiny Macs cannot accommodate a large hard drive unless you're made of money, but today's multimedia gobbles up hard drive space.  You will need to store your movies and things you are not using immediately at the time on an archive drive.  However, again you do not want just one copy.  So you want one external drive for an archive drive for overflow of music and photos and movies, and another external drive for backup.  Yes, these cost money too, but it is like buying a shiny new car and then not buying insurance in case the car is stolen.  A car you can always buy again, but if your photos get lost when your drive fails or your computer is stolen then there's no replacing those.