What are the Different Types of Digital Data Storage?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Stack of DVDs.
Stack of DVDs.

As more people choose to maintain electronic records rather than hard copies, the need for efficient digital data storage has led to the development of several storage options. Many of the newer options offer an amount of virtual storage space that was unheard of as recently as ten years ago. Still, some of the older forms of electronic storage are still in use among people working with older computing systems.

A USB drive.
A USB drive.

One example of digital data storage that many people remember as their first storage device with home computers is the floppy disk. The original version of this device was developed long before it became a common storage method for the general public. Created by IBM in 1969, the first versions were for business use only and were very thin and flexible. It was this flexibility that led to the popular name for this form of data storage.

A device for playing Blu-Ray® disks, which can hold up to 50 GB of data.
A device for playing Blu-Ray® disks, which can hold up to 50 GB of data.

By the time that home computers became common, the floppy disk had become more compact and was encased in a hard plastic body. Well into the 1990’s, the disk was utilized widely to store files, images, and other types of electronic data. However, the capacity of this type of storage device is limited, making it far less efficient than devices that were developed later. The floppy disk is still produced in limited quantities and is often used by people who own older desktop computers.

Memory cards are used for digital media storage in digital cameras.
Memory cards are used for digital media storage in digital cameras.

The compact disk is a digital data storage option that is capable of storing substantially more data than even the most advanced of floppy disks. First developed and marketed in 1982, this option began to eclipse the floppy in the latter part of the 1990’s and became the storage device of choice for many home and business computer users by the first years of the 21st century. The increased capacity makes it possible to store audio and video presentations and other files that far exceed the ability of any older storage medium.

The floppy disk is still produced in limited quantities and is often used by people who own older desktop computers.
The floppy disk is still produced in limited quantities and is often used by people who own older desktop computers.

The digital virtual disk, commonly known as a DVD, is even more powerful than a compact disk. With a capacity that is six times that of any type of compact disk, this digital data storage option is capable of supporting the most sophisticated of visual media. Over the years, the definition of the storage device was enhanced, with the older formatting referred to as standard and the newer approach as high definition.

Digital video recorders allow people to download, sort, store, and view their favorite television shows.
Digital video recorders allow people to download, sort, store, and view their favorite television shows.

The latest in optical digital data storage is known as the Blu-Ray® disk. While resembling a compact or digital virtual disk, this storage option has a capacity far greater than even the most sophisticated of digital virtual disks. A typical Blu-Ray® disk can handle up to 50 GB of data.

Along with disks that provide remote digital data storage, other forms of digital data storage are in common use today. Hard drives on computers of all types make it possible to save data for easy retrieval later. Many people use this option, then create a back up of the data using some sort of remote device. Flash drives offer quick and easy storage as well as being extremely easy to transport. Memory cards are another common means of saving data for easy transport and allow for easy retrieval using different electronic devices.

As more people make use of the Internet and computers for everything from creating electronic recipe books to drafting business plans and showing visual marketing tools, options in digital data storage continue to offer an increasing amount of storage and ease of use. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the amount of data that can be stored on a single device has expanded to a capacity that could only be imagined before. Newer and more efficient storage devices are likely to appear over the next several years, rendering the popular options of today obsolete for many storage needs.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

irontoenail

@croydon - It will definitely be interesting to see what will happen, because it isn't really a good thing if people choose to store their data in multiple ways, because it makes it more difficult to communicate.

It's already bad enough that different companies make it impossible to trade files easily without further fragmenting the ways that people store their data.

croydon

@browncoat - Maybe I'm being naive but I don't know if streaming will ever fully take over digital storage for video, just because it's so vulnerable to the internet. We like to think that everyone in the world is completely connected at a fast speed, but it's definitely not true in a lot of places.

It's the same with cloud storage. It's a really good idea in theory, but when I tried to upload a few things to the cloud it took a really long time and I have a lot of data to store. It's much quicker and safer to put it on a disk, or even an external hard drive and not have to worry about it drifting around out there.

I just don't think people are ready for digital data storage that is completely based around streaming and the cloud.

browncoat

I read recently that companies are starting to be convinced that the blu-ray disk is already on the way out as a form of storage. They invested a lot of money in developing it, thinking it was going to take over the DVD, the way that DVDs took over video cassettes, but it never seemed to take off in the same way. To me, at least, I always thought of blu-ray as a more elite version of the DVD rather than an outright replacement.

But now they think that people will stop buying discs altogether now that they can stream video and audio from the internet.

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    • Stack of DVDs.
      Stack of DVDs.
    • A USB drive.
      By: zayedbaloch
      A USB drive.
    • A device for playing Blu-Ray® disks, which can hold up to 50 GB of data.
      By: Intel Free Press
      A device for playing Blu-Ray® disks, which can hold up to 50 GB of data.
    • Memory cards are used for digital media storage in digital cameras.
      By: xiaosan
      Memory cards are used for digital media storage in digital cameras.
    • The floppy disk is still produced in limited quantities and is often used by people who own older desktop computers.
      By: Iakov Kalinin
      The floppy disk is still produced in limited quantities and is often used by people who own older desktop computers.
    • Digital video recorders allow people to download, sort, store, and view their favorite television shows.
      By: Yoanna Boyadzhieva
      Digital video recorders allow people to download, sort, store, and view their favorite television shows.