Computer storage devices and storage media are an essential part of a business computer system. They provide you with a place to save all your key files, documents and data. They come in many forms and choosing the right ones for your business requires careful consideration of how you work and what you want to store.
Hard drives (also called hard disk drives or HDDs) are very common computer storage devices. They store data on a spinning magnetic disk and are fitted to virtually all computers as standard.
Hard drives are reliable computer storage devices, can hold large amounts of data and allow files to be accessed quickly. They’re essential for the day-to-day storage of frequently-accessed files.
The smallest hard drives hold around 500GB (gigabytes) of data and cost less than £50. That's enough for most business needs - you'd be going some to fill the space with documents. A larger hard drive - say 1TB (terabyte, which is about the same as 1,000GB) - will cost from £75, and should be adequate unless you work with huge video files.
If your business has a network server, this will be fitted with a large, fast hard drive so you can store files centrally. It should be specifically designed to cope with the load from several users.
There are two main types of hard drives:
Another type of external hard disk storage is network attached storage (NAS). It allows you to connect a hard drive directly to your computer network, so you can store files centrally without investing in a server.
Attached storage can help you deal with data growth while costing significantly less than a server to purchase and maintain.
Solid state storage works like the memory card in a camera. With no moving parts, it can store and access data much quicker than magnetic hard drives.
Solid state drives are relatively expensive compared to standard hard drives and as a consequence aren't used as widely. However, the technology is rapidly evolving and with their improved performance they may offer a more viable alternative to traditional hard drives.
It’s important to keep data backups in case you suffer hard disk failure or another problem. You can store backups on a number of computer storage devices:
Memory cards and memory sticks are very convenient types of storage media. They fit easily into your pocket and make it simple to transport data from one location to another.
A typical memory stick costs less than £15 and can hold at least 4GB of data. Accessing the data is as easy as plugging it into a computer. However, memory sticks are easily lost, so consider using encryption to protect the data.
CDs and DVDs are other common types of portable storage media. They offer few advantages over memory sticks when transferring data, but are a good way to archive files you need to keep.
Finally, cloud storage can also be classed as a kind of portable storage. With cloud storage you upload your files to an online server, so you can log in and access them anywhere. Cloud storage can also be a good way to free up space on your own hard drive.