Data Storage and Memory Overview

What Is Data Storage?

The term data storage refers to any type of device that has information recorded to it, although today, it generally refers to a device that will store digital information. Many different types of digital data exist, including digital video, pictures, databases, text, programs, email, and more. Primary data storage is the RAM, random access memory, which is rewritten and erased regularly. It is a method of temporary data storage before being saved to the secondary devices, and most will generally feel that this falls more firmly into the category of memory rather than storage, since it does not store permanently.

Secondary data storage includes other sorts of storage that are not the primary storage. These could be internal hard drives, flash memory, CD-ROM disks, and other secondary storage elements described later within this article. When most people use the term data storage, they are thinking of these secondary devices rather than the information on the RAM.

What Is Memory?

Computer memory can refer to many different types of memory inside of a computer. Most of the time, people use the term to refer to random access memory. This type of memory is electronic rather than mechanical, and when you turn off the computer it disappears since the information is stored in the RAM rather than the hard drive or other secondary data storage device. Most computers today will have several GBs of RAM, and this can help them to perform more tasks at the same time.

What Is the Difference Between Data Storage and Memory?

The two terms are often used interchangeably since they are both measured in bytes, and it is easy to confuse them. They are different though. Data storage allows the user to save information and files from their computer to their hard drive. The memory allows the user to access those files. Along with processors speed, hard drive speed and other factors, the speed and capacity of RAM plays a significant role in the perceived speed of computers. The RAM will keep the items, such as text, on the computer screen while one is working and has the file open. Saving the information to the hard drive allows you to turn off the computer and still retain the information. The information is not in the RAM though; it is not on the data storage device.

What Types of Data Storage and Memory Solutions Exist? How Does Each Type Work and What Are They Used For?

What Are Card Readers?

A card reader, sometimes called a media card reader, is a piece of hardware that allows users to read and write data to and from a memory card. Some of the readers have just a single slot for a single type of memory card, such as an SD card. However, others have solutions for multiple types of cards. They will typically connect to a computer via a USB. However, some computers have card readers built into them. Laptops, as well as some printers, cameras, and even televisions may have a card reader on them for utilizing different types of media. Some of the common slots found on card readers include MiniSD, MicroSD, MS/DUO, and M2 cards.

What Are Compact Flash Cards?

A compact flash card, or CF card, is a type of storage device that features a 50-pin connector. The device is quite common for storage with digital cameras, as well as other portable devices. The storage capacity on these cards can range quite a bit – from a mere 2 MB in the case of the older cards, but that number is constantly expanding.

What Are Computer Memory Modules?

A computer memory module, or memory board, is part of the internal workings of a computer. They are circuit boards that feature connectors that will plug into a computer’s motherboard. They go right into the memory slot. The circuit boards feature DRAM integrated circuits of various sizes. Once, they were proprietary for different types of computers, but today, most of the memory modules will work with the majority of computers. However, laptops may still have proprietary memory in some cases.

What Are Data Tapes?

Data tapes are another form of storage for digital information. The user stores the information to magnetic data tapes, which are usually packed into some type of cartridge. The only way to use these devices to record data is via a tape drive. One of the advantages of this type of storage is that it is possible to store a large amount of data in a very small space at a relatively low cost. They can be useful for those who need to store massive amounts of data.

What Are Desktop Hard Drives?

Desktop hard drive generally refers to external hard drives and backup drives, although it can also refer to the internal hard drive on the desktop. The external drives often connect to the computer through a USB connector, which makes it easier to send or receive data quickly from the desktop to the drive. Many manufacturers make these external drives today, and they are readily available in many different storage capacities. The capacity of the drives is constantly increasing and what were large drives yesterday end up being comparatively small drives today. As the price of storage drops, it is making more sense for buyers to choose larger hard drives.

What Are Floppy Disk Drives?

A floppy disk drive, or FDD, is a type of disk drive that lets the user save data on removable diskettes. Over the years, many different types of floppy drives have been on the market with the original 8” drives starting all the way back in 1971, before there was a consumer need for them. Later came the 5.25” floppy drives, and then the 3.5” drives. While they were popular for quite a while, and some still have diskettes they use, they are out of style because they simply do not have the requisite space that people need today. Other types of storage replaced them.

What Are Floppy Disks?

The first floppy disk was created by IBM in 1967, but it did not come out until 1971. As mentioned in the previous section, it was an 8” disk. It featured a cardboard case and magnetic coating. The capacity for the disk was just 1 MB. The 5.25” floppy from later in the 1970s had only 160 KB of space at first, but eventually went up to 1.2 MB. They were quite common from the late 70s all the way through to the late 80s. The 3.5” diskettes replaced them in the 90s and were in use for most of the decade, although CDs supplanted them by the first part of the 2000s.

What Are Internal Hard Drives?

The internal hard drive disk, or HDD, is the main area where the computer stores all of its information permanently. These have been around for more than half a century, with the first one introduced in 1956. The drives are usually in the internal drive bay located toward the front of the computer. They will connect to the motherboard via a cable (ATA, SATA, or SCSI). Hard drive disks are starting to be replaced in the newer computers coming onto the market with solid state drives, discussed later in the article.

What Are Portable Hard Drives?

Portable hard drives are similar to external hard drives. The main difference between the two is the size. While the external drives are generally portable, technically, they are usually too large to fit into a pocket and they are not convenient to take with you on the go. The portable hard drives are a different story. They are smaller, and they will connect to the computer through a USB cable as well. Because of the small size of hard drives denoted as being portable, it is easy to take them with you.

What Kinds of Accessories Exist for Hard Drives?

A number of different types of accessories exist for hard drives today, including mounting brackets and kits for HDDs that go inside of your computer. Some of the other types of accessories include hard drive docking stations, power adaptors for cables, enclosure kits, USB adaptors, and even carrying cases for the external and portable hard drives.

What Are Memory Sticks?

Memory sticks have been around since 1998 when Sony introduced them. They started as flash memory cards used for digital cameras, and over the years, a number of different models of these memory sticks came to market. The memory sticks vary in their storage capacity and manufacturers are always increasing the amount of storage that they can provide.

What Are NAS?

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. This is any type of storage device connected to a network and whose purpose is simply to provide that network with more storage space. This type of storage does not actually have any processing power at all, as the processing is done on the server side. It is impossible to use the NAS for running programs shared on a network.

What Are Secure Digital Cards?

Secure digital cards, known by most as SD cards, are some of the most common types of memory cards used with electronics today. Hundreds of different brands are on the market today, and they work with countless types of electronic devices. Some of the most common devices that make use of the SD cards include digital cameras, as well as phones. In addition to the standard SD cards, there are also MiniSD cards and MicroSD cards. Even though they are smaller, the cards can still hold the same amount of data as their larger counterparts. The reason for the smaller cards is simply to accommodate many of the smaller electronic devices that make use of them.

What Are SmartMedia Cards?

SmartMedia cards are flash memory cards and they were one of the first of these sorts of cards to enter the market. They were common for use in many electronic devices, but most people remember using them with digital cameras. They were on the market for a number of years, but they had a small capacity that could not keep up with the greater storage demands of most people. They could hold between 2 MB and 128 MB, and they consider these obsolete today.

What Are Solid State Drives (SSD)?

Solid state drives are a type of storage device that is gaining quite a bit of popularity today. They do not involve any moving parts, thus the name solid state. They do not use magnetic disks either. RAM uses this sort of memory. The reason for the rise in popularity in these types of drives is the speed for the most part. They can help computers and devices to boot quickly and to operate better than those utilizing HDDs. People like the better performance. However, that does come at a price. The cost of the SSDs is higher than HDDs, and they are currently not able to hold quite as much data as the older HDDs. Another one of the benefits of the SDDs is that they are durable. Since they do not have any moving parts, they can last quite a bit longer.

What Are USB Flash Drives?

USB flash drives, also called data sticks, thumb drives, and jump drives, are a type of portable drive that will fit right into the USB port on computers and other devices. Some televisions have USB drives, so people can access some of their media right through their televisions. They are very easy to use, and are convenient for those who want to store and transfer information. Flash drives have, like other such products, greatly increased in size over the years and continue to increase in size as manufacturing techniques an technology itself become more advanced. As the price of memory comes down, the price of these types of drives is falling.

With so many different options for storing data, make sure you take the time to find the storage options that are the best for you and your needs.

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