Data Storage Devices - Definition & Types

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  • 0:04 Pace of Information
  • 0:40 Data Storage Device Definition
  • 1:13 Data Storage Device Types
  • 2:39 Reason for Types
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

We use a lot of information in the course of a day, and as a result, we need some place to store this information until we put it to use. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the data storage device, what it is, and what types there are.

Pace of Information

We live in a world that consumes information as fast as we can capture it. Stock market tickers display trading information as fast as the transactions happen, weather reports show status and forecast information in an up-to-the-minute fashion, and newswire services provide access to story information as the stories unfold.

But what happens to the information as it is received, and after it is displayed? Surely it isn't just thrown away? No, it isn't. Truth be told, it's placed in a series of holding areas, places that provide access and ensure propagation. Those areas are called data storage devices.

Data Storage Device Definition

A data storage device is a piece of technology that is used either to temporarily or permanently hold information in a structured fashion. By structured, we mean that the information is organization in a way that makes it is easy to retrieve after the fact.

Think of data storage devices like the dresser in your bedroom. The drawers are compartments that are meant to hold a specific amount of clothing for future use. When you want to access that clothing, you simply go to the appropriate drawer and retrieve the desired item. Data storage devices work in a similar fashion and constitute an important part of computer technology today.

Data Storage Device Types

There are basically two types of data storage devices available. Dynamic storage requires power to maintain the information it stores. An example of this type of storage is random access memory (or RAM). This is the storage referred to when you talk about your computer's memory.

Static storage maintains its contents even with the power off. Examples of this type of storage fall into a number of categories. They include:

  • Magnetic Storage - this technology uses magnetism and small metal pieces embedded in a plastic film to encode information. Examples include cassette tapes, DAT tapes, floppy disks, and hard disks. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of all of those. Some are likely before your time.

  • Optical Storage - this technology uses lasers and bumps on a plastic disk to encode information. Examples include CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.

  • Flash Storage - this technology uses electronics, particularly flash memory (as in memory that's readable and writable and maintains its contents with the power off), to encode the information. Examples include memory sticks and solid state (SSD) drives.

  • Cloud Storage - this technology is just a remote version of the types already mentioned. Examples include Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure.

  • Paper Storage - this technology encodes information by punching holes in paper cards. An example of this is punch cards, which have largely fallen out of use.

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