If you took a moment right now to think about how much of the information you use on a daily basis is digital, you would begin to appreciate the importance of digital storage solutions. Whether it’s simply photos, videos, and music; or even documents and notes, or financial records, personal identifiable information, etc. In short, nearly everybody these days has digital data that needs to be stored and looked after – and that goes double for businesses, and the people that work in business. Take TechQuarters, for instance – they provide IT support services London organizations have been using for more than a decade now. A significant portion of their business is dedicated to helping their customers establish resilient digital storage solutions – sectors like the financial services, or the legal sector, rely on storage solutions to keep their customer’s PII (personal identifiable information) safe, as per the law.
Why is Digital Storage Important?
As previously mentioned, many businesses are required by law (due to compliancy regulations) to have digital storage solutions in place that keep their customers’ information not only stored and organized, but also protected. But digital storage is also important for business’ own internal information. Most IT support companies put emphasis on data security – as any business can become a victim of a cyberattack that attempts to steal data. Data security can involve many different types of digital storage.
So far, you might be thinking that digital storage is only a problem for business; after all, most of your digital data is already stored in your PC. But if you rely on your PC for work, or maybe school, then you should also be conscious of digital storage solutions. This is because the more data you have stored on a PC, the more its speed and performance will be affected. As a general rule of thumb, it is worth keeping your PC’s internal storage as clear as possible.
So, what are the options for digital storage that are worth considering?
So far we’ve talked about digital storage. But, from the perspective of the end-user, there is fully digital storage (such as Cloud storage), and then there is Physical storage of digital data. This refers to any device that is used to house digital information. When we talk about storage, we are generally referring to non-volatile storage – this is a type of storage that retains data even after the power source of the storage device has been removed or turned off. Below are the most common examples:
1. USB Flash Drives
Most of us have heard the term USB – and probably most people think of cables when they hear the term. Universal Serial Bus, to use its full name, is the industry standard for cables, connectors, and connection protocols. Most of us are familiar with USB Type-A, which is what most phone chargers use; and it is also the primary type of connector used for flash drives.
Flash drives are the small thumb-sized sticks that you plug into your PC. They use flash memory – a type of electronic storage – that can easily be written, erased, and reprogrammed. Bear in mind though that flash memory is not the most secure form of storage. If you were to ask a managed IT services London businesses trust, they would likely tell you to only use flash drive is suitable for storing small files, but is much less inefficient than alternative solutions when it comes to reading and writing large files.
2. External Hard Drive
For large files, or larger volumes of data in general, an external hard drive is a more suitable form of storage. A hard drive – or to use the full name, hard disk drive (HDD) – is a type of mechanical data storage medium. It uses magnetic storage to store information. The hard drive will contain a ‘platter’ – a spinning disk that is coated in magnetic material. Data is written onto the surface of the platter, as well as being read from the platter. All computers contain a hard drive, and they serve as the primary storage. But you can also purchase hard drives in an enclosure, and transfer data onto them via a connection – usually USB.
A newer form of storage, known as solid-state storage, is used to create storage drives that are also commonly referred to as hard drives – and you can purchase external solid state drives as well. These devices tend to be faster than Hard Disk Drives, and store data in a more persistent way.
All of the forms of storage listed so far have relied on a physical connection in order to access the data stored on them. With Network-attached storage (commonly referred to simply as NAS), a business or individual can access data stored on it remotely, via an internet connection.
Network-attached storage devices are a type of server that provide file-level storage. These devices are essentially network devices that contain a storage drive – normally a mechanical hard disk drive, but solid-state drives are being used more frequently nowadays. They connect to a computer network; and so any computer on that network will be able to access files stored on the NAS device. This is a good solution for businesses who want to have remote access to files without placing the responsibility of file serving on servers that fulfill another important function in the business.
A “redundant array of inexpensive disks”, or “redundant array of independent disks” – commonly referred to as a RAID – is a type of technology for virtualizing data storage. The way it works is by connecting multiple physical storage drives into a logical unit – the storage drive is commonly a HDD, but may also be a solid-state drive. When these multiple drives are arranged into a logical unit, it makes for a more redundant form of storage. In this context, redundant is a good thing – it means that data has been replicated; meaning that if data is lost, or damaged, it can be restored using the replicant data.
A RAID storage system can require a physical connection – such as USB – to be used; or a RAID can be part of a NAS device – in which case, one would have the benefits of both data redundancy, and remote access to their data.
Also Read: How to Free up Storage Space on Mac