Storage: The BasicsDifferent File Storage Methods Storing information on computers is an everyday occurrence for most computer users, both at home and work. Solid state drives, external hard drives, online storage and file servers are some of the common devices used for storing valuable information. Read about each of these below for the common uses of each one.
Flash / Solid State Drives
Flash memory is still a relatively new market, as the size of flash drives and solid state memory increases and prices comes down.
Solid state drives, or flash/thumb drives, are memory drives that do not contain spinning discs inside, like a standard computer hard drive. Solid state drives are much less complex and therefore more portable with a reduced risk of damage.
Flash drives are very useful for carrying around files that are used everyday, or they can be used for quickly transferring data between computers that are not sharing network resources.
Solid state drives are growing in capacity and are replacing the fragile hard drives in laptops to increase the life of laptops.
External Hard Drives
External hard drives are similar to internal hard drives, but they are encased in a durable container and used for file storage or computer backups. External hard drives are not as portable as solid state drives since they have numerous fragile components, so they should preferably be left to set on a desk or shelf without being carried around.
External hard drives can also be created from existing hard drives. Hard drive enclosures can be purchased to hold a hard drive from a computer, which can then be accessed through USB. This is good for accessing files from an old computer that won't boot up or just to have access to old files without keeping the entire computer.
Online file storage is a great way to back up your information and also have in accessible from anywhere there is an Internet connection. For free or a monthly fee, online storage spaces are available from numerous sources, but access to large files may be limited by download speeds.
Trial versions of different online storage sites are always a good idea to evaluate the user interface. Sometimes the site's screen where you view your files and download them may be limiting or not very user-friendly. Some advanced online storage services offer downloadable programs to synchronize a folder on your computer with the online storage automatically to increase usability.
File servers are centralized servers, or computers on a network, dedicated to sharing information between users. Through a file server, multiple computer users can view shared directories on the server and view, copy, or edit files. They can also be configured to be accessed from outside of the network through a secure VPN connection so files are accessible elsewhere.