What Are Different Types of Data Storage?

Common types of data storage include traditional magnetic hard drives or tapes, optical storage such as CDs or DVDs, flash memory storage in solid-state drives or USB drives, and cloud or networked storage that archives files at remote sites. Each form of storage has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type and volume of data that needs storing.

As of late 2015, The cheapest forms of data storage are magnetic hard drives and optical discs. Both options are relatively inexpensive for backing up large volumes of data, and backing up data using these methods is easy enough for most computer users to handle the job without outside assistance. However, these methods are prone to physical failure or damage, so backups need to be refreshed periodically.

Flash memory offers fast, durable storage, but at an increased cost. Flash-based USB drives are more expensive per gigabyte of storage than magnetic or optical media, and flash-based solid-state drives are a very cost-ineffective method of storing files.

Cloud storage uses the Internet to transfer and store files on remote servers. This has the advantage of additional security against damage, since a disaster that destroys a user’s home PC is unlikely to affect servers many miles away. The cost of this service can be substantial, however, making it best suited for the most important documents and files.