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What Are the Different Types of Mass Storage Devices?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Several different types of mass storage devices exist, including hard drives, solid state drives, optical disks, floppy disks, flash drives, and other pieces of technology such as MP3 players and secure digital (SD) cards. Most types of storage devices can be used to store any type of file, but the ones in MP3 players can only display certain types of file if not connected to a computer. All of the mass storage devices require a computer to function properly, because a computer is needed to move files to and from the storage devices.

Hard drives are amongst the most common types of mass storage devices. Most computers have a hard disk drive already built into them, and they can offer a large amount of memory which can be accessed easily by the user. Universal serial bus (USB) portable hard drives are also available, which offer the storage of a hard drive in a more transportable form. Most hard disk drives use magnetic discs which store data as a magnetic pattern. Solid state drives are essentially an alternative type of hard disk drive which work faster, more quietly, and last for longer.

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Optical disks are another of the most commonly used storage devices. An optical disk is better known to most people as a compact disk (CD) or digital versatile disk (DVD), which has data "burned" onto it by a laser. Most computers come equipped with a CD/DVD drive which can also write data onto the optical storage devices. This functionality has made optical disks common types of mass storage devices, and the data can be read by a variety of devices. For example, music stored on a CD can be played by most stereo systems, depending on the file format.

Floppy disks are an older class of mass storage devices, and while some computers can still play them, optical disks are much more popular. The memory of floppy disks is considerably lower than that found on optical disks and hard drives, but they are generally much cheaper to purchase and easily portable. Another advantage of floppy disks is they are universal, but they unfortunately run quite slowly, especially when compared to other devices.

Other technology such as MP3 Players and digital cameras can be used as mass storage devices. Most digital cameras use SD cards, which can feature a large amount of storage space, at least surpassing that of a CD or DVD. SD cards can usually display photographs and videos when plugged into a digital camera. MP3 players often have a great deal of memory, and can play music files without help of a PC after they have been transferred.

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croydon
Post 3

@umbra21 - You can have your virus checker set up so it will scan incoming data even if the data comes from a storage device. I don't think you need to be paranoid so much as just aware that it's a possibility.

I remember my father would never use disks of any kind on April Fool's Day or even turn on the computer if he could avoid it, because he was convinced that pranksters would arrange their viruses and other malware to wipe the computer on that day.

umbra21
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - Just be careful not to let any of your old problems effect your new desktop. I think it's great to recycle, but a hard drive is going to have all of the viruses and other problems that the laptop had, so I would do a clean sweep before letting it go anywhere new.

That goes for any mass storage device, for that matter. It's really easy to transfer viruses from one machine to another if you aren't careful. And since people get so paranoid about the internet these days they forget to be paranoid about disks and drives.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

I used to keep all my old laptops in storage because I couldn't bear to throw them out (or recycle them). I was always worried that I'd end up throwing out a part that I could use somewhere else, or losing storage capacity or whatever.

Recently I tried to sort out whether there actually was anything valuable left on any of them and it turned out that the only thing that I could really use was the hard drives. You can take the hard drive out of an old laptop (depending on how old it is, as some of them it's probably not worth it) and buy a $10 case that will turn it into an external drive for storage.

Which is awesome, because I'm always running out of storage. I like keeping a lot of music and movies and games and things on my desktop and no matter how big I go it's always near to filled up by the end of the year. So having a few hundred gigs of extra storage space is really going to help.

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