On the car ride across town I came up with a great analogy to explain the technological bottlenecks of upgrading computers. After chewing on it some more, I’ve decided to officially christen it The Hotel Analogy.
The first thing people ask about when upgrading their computer is “should I get more ram?”. In this analogy, RAM is the Lobby of our fictional hotel. It’s where data awkwardly hangs out on uncomfortable furniture when you’re working with it. Getting a bigger lobby only makes sense to a certain extent. One could argue you could never have enough RAM, but we’re not talking about your computer. For most people, an enormous lobby is overkill, expensive and sort of weird.
Hard drives are more like a large block of hotel Rooms than anything else. The speed of elevators can change depending on the format, but the concept remains the same. Everything comes down to getting data in and out of their Rooms. The main variable here is size, and that depends on individual needs. Whether data is coming or going from your hotel, it has to hang out in the Lobby and eventually deal with The Front Desk.
The most important part of hotels is the Front Desk, or in this case, the Processor. Data entering and leaving your computer has to interact with the Front Desk to get its keys or give them back on the way out. Increasing the amount of people at the front desk can dramatically speed things up. But if your lobby is too small to fit everyone comfortably, continental breakfasts could get violent. Increasing the size of the lobby or the amount of rooms in the hotel has only so much effect on the bottom line.
Computers are a strange, confusing things to many people. Dealing with, and upgrading them can be a lot of work. Hopefully this analogy comes in handy next time someone you know asks about computers. It’ll help.