Magnetic, Optical, and Solid-State Storage

By | February 6, 2013

Mass Storage Devices

Data storage has evolved in recent years, and storage devices can vary in cost, performance, size and storage space quite a bit.

Magnetic Storage Device

Hard drives are the primary storage device in most personal computers. Hard drives use magnets to record data on rotating metal platters.

Benefits of Magnetic Storage Devices

Solid state drives are the only drives that are faster than hard drives; however the cost to store date is pennies per gigabyte.

Advantages of Magnetic Storage Devices

  • Inexpensive storage
  • Very fast access to data
  • Direct access on any part of the drive
  • Very large amounts of storage space

Disadvantages of Magnetic storage devices

  • Data can be altered by magnetic fields, dust, mechanical problems
  • Gradually lose their charge over time – data lost
  • Hard disks eventually fail which stops the computer from working
  • The surface of the disk, can lose data within sectors with regular crashes
  • Cannot transfer the disk to another computer easily

Optical Storage Device

Optical drives include CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-ray disks and they all use a lens to read and write information. CD-R, DVD-R, BD-R can be written to once and are then Read only, while CD-RW, DVD-RW, BD-RW are Read Write so they can be written many times.

Benefits of Optical Storage Devices

CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-ray disks are great to record music, movies, games, and software applications. It seems with optical storage an advantage can also be a disadvantage depending on how they are being used.

Advantages of Optical Storage Devices

  • Optical discs are portable and can be read on many different devices
  • Very inexpensive
  • Memory is retained even when the power is turned off
  • Durable and last a long time
  • Archived data cannot be overwritten on read only CD-R, DVD-R, BD-R formats
  • Can random access data no matter where or when it was stored

Disadvantages of Optical Storage Devices

  • Require special drives to read/write
  • Compared to other storage devices they have little storage
  • Can be expensive per GB/TB
  • There are compatibility issues with different drives
  • Lack of standards for grading quality and for longevity tests
  • You can write once on read only CD-R, DVD-R, BD-R formats

Solid State Storage Device (SSD)

Solid state drives use flash memory and could possibly make conventional hard drives obsolete. They are compatible with SATA or SAS, and use standard form factors of 3.5-, 2.5- or 1.8-inch.

Benefits of Solid State Storage Devices

Solid State Storage Devices are durable, reliable, have a long service life and they can rewrite and erase data very often.

Advantages of Solid State Storage Devices

  • Start-up faster due to no spin-up and they are faster than magnetic hard drives
  • When seeks on the hard disk seeks are limited they have faster launch times
  • They last longer and some are waterproof
  • All data stored can be scanned quickly for security purposes

Disadvantages of Solid State Storage Devices

  • Solid State Storage devices are expensive
  • Vulnerable to abrupt power loss, magnetic fields, and electrical and static charges
  • Limited writes cycles wear out after 100,000-300,000
  • High endurance
  • Larger erase blocks make random write speeds slow

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