2011: The Year of the World's Cheapest Memory

Computer memory comes in quite a wide range of flavours, from internal and external hard drives to USB memory sticks to internal RAM which you can't save files to but your computer uses for a range of very important tasks on a daily basis. Knowing which type you're looking for may seem a little confusing at first but it's actually quite an easy task, and the good news is that if you're looking to upgrade or simply add some storage space, this is the cheapest memory has ever been - regardless of the sort you're after.

After years of memory and hard drive expansions costing huge amounts of money, the last five years or so has seen a momentous downturn in the expenses related to keeping your computer in tip-top condition. As manufacturing processes improve with time any increase in the cost of raw materials or transport has been offset by the growing ability for companies to build these devices in ever increasing numbers, reducing the price for the consumer.

If you're looking for an internal hard drive, then you can probably forget all about the old standard of measurement, Gigabyte, and instead focus on the far bigger Terabyte scale of measurement. For countless years disk space was measured in Gigabytes, but as the capacity has edged upward past the 1000 Gigabyte mark, the new buzz word has become Terabytes. These days you'll pick up a 1TB drive for between £60-100, depending on the brand and where you shop, with some manufacturers even offering drives as large as 2TB for the same price as a 100GB drive would have cost you a mere ten years ago!

USB memory sticks have gone the same way, with prices crashing since they first became commonplace in the 2000s. A quick search around your local electronics store will turn up countless options, starting as low as £5 for smaller capacity drives of 512MB or 1GB and increasing to between £30-50 for a 32GB model. Again the brand will play a huge part in the cost of the device, but sometimes it's worth paying that little bit extra just for the peace of mind that your drive will be reliable.

Finally RAM has never been as affordable at any point in history as it is right now. Traditionally, 32bit operating systems meant that there was a limit of 4GB for computer RAM, but the increase in popularity of 64bit operating systems has seen the demand for higher capacity sticks rise considerably - to the point where a single 4GB stick of RAM can cost as little as £80-100 - making a RAM upgrade the first port of call for most users with ageing machines.

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