Can The CPU Keep Files?

Dear computer lady,

Why can the CPU keep thousands of files and how many types of files can the CPU keep?


Dear Rbtm,

This isn’t the type of question that I normally answer, but I thought this might give me the chance to explain some basic parts of your computer and what they do.

The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, in your computer is actually the “brain” of your computer that does all the calculations and processing of your files. Think of it like an adding machine, it does the math, but you have to input the numbers you want processed.

The CPU itself does not keep any files. It gets the files that it works with from temporary storage called, RAM. RAM, however does not keep files when the computer is turned off, instead the long term storage on your computer, the hard drive, is where your files are stored. Some people refer to the entire computer, including the hard drive, as a CPU.

Your computer can keep thousands, if not millions, of files on the hard drive. The only limit to how many files can be stored on the hard drive is the size of the drive itself. There are thousands of types of files that can be stored on your hard drive, some of them are files that you might recognize like pictures, documents and music. Many more files are types that the computer operating system (usually Windows) needs to run. These are files that you and I will never need to access ourselves, but every time you turn your computer on, they are used in the basic running of the computer.

I hope this helps you understand the workings of your computer a little bit more.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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