How to choose the best data storage system

Posted on January 1, 2010 by Frankye Robinson

From tiny memory cards to enormous data tape systems, there are a lot of data storage solution available to the modern office. This guide will help you narrow down your options and find the best technology for your office. 

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a data storage medium:

How much data are you storing?
How long you need to store your data?
How often you need to do you need to access your files?

Temporary Storage: disks, memory cards and flash drives.

CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disks, along with memory cards and flash drives are the best means of temporarily storing small amounts of data. 

CD, DVD & Blu-Ray Disks
Storage capacity: 700MB-50GB

Blue Ray Disk

Disk storage is easy and cheap. CDs offer the least amount of storage: 700MB. DVDs offer 4.7GB of storage space. Standard Blu-ray disks have a 25GB storage capacity, while dual Blu-ray offer 50 GB of storage space. 

-R CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disks are read only. Once burned to disk, your data can not be edited or removed. -RW and -RE disks are editable.

Need to work on a project at home? Want to share a few files with colleagues? Memory cards and flash drives are your best bet.

Memory Cards
Storage Capacity: 1-32GB

Memory CardsThere are two types of memory cards: MiniSD cards and SD cards. Both are commonly found in cell phones, cameras and other digital devices, but you can also use them to transfer data. Some computers have an port you can use to plug your memory card directly into your computer. If your computer does not have such a port, you'll need an USB adapter. Once you connect your memory card to your computer, stored files are easy to access and edit.

Flash Drives
Storage Capacity: 1-64GB

USB DrivesFlash drives go by a lot of names: thumb drives, jump drives, USB sticks and more. All allow you to store and transfer files with ease. Flash drives are more durable than memory cards, and can store more data. Plus, you can plug any flash drive into any computer and access and edit your files

Permanent Storage: external hard drive vs. data tape storage systems.

Need to backup up large amounts of data? You have two options: external hard drives and data tapes. Both systems offer unique advantages

External Hard Disk Drives
Storage Capacity: up to 2TB

External computer drives work just like the internal drive in your computer. Data is stored on a rotating metal disk. Your stored files can be accessed, edited and deleted at any time. External hard drives connect to computers via a USB cord. 

Portable Hard Drive 

Portable hard drives are generally 2.5" in size and store up to 500GB of data.

Desktop Hard Drive

Desktop hard drives are 3.5" in size and store up to 2TB of data. They read, copy and write file faster than portable drives. Most desktop hard drives have a cord to plug into a power source, and internal fans to prevent overheating.

Software Options

Encryption Software: requires a password to access files. Keep up with the password. Most programs only allow you a few login attempts before destroying the data. Best for government and medical offices.

Backup Software: While you can drag and drop computer files onto any external hard drive, backup software allows you to quickly copy all computer files.

Data Tape Storage Systems
Storage Capacity: up to 2TB

Data tape storage systems are made up of two parts: data tape drives and data tapes. Data tape systems grow with your needs. You don't need to buy a new piece of equipment every time you need more storage space. You just add more tapes. Data tapes are sturdy and reliable. Plus, you can access, edit and delete files at any time. Thus, data tape storage systems are perfect for businesses with large data storage needs. 

There are a wide variety of data tape storage systems on the market. Some tape drives can only hold one tape at a time, while other models can accommodate several. The corresponding data tapes vary in appearance and storage capacity as well, from 4mm cartridges  that hold up to 40GB of data to LTO cartridges that accommodate up to 1.6TB of data. Once you commit to a data tape drive, you can only use data tapes compatible with that system. 

The main drawback of data tape storage is that systems can and do become obsolete over time. Once a system becomes obsolete, you'll still be able to find compatible tapes, but you won't be able to update software, and may have difficulty receiving customer support.    

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Document printed / saved on 01/17/2018. Prices subject to change.