Hard Drives & Data Storage

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Data storage devices make it easy to save data as well as process and retrieve it. Staples offers a wide selection of these devices, including hard drives, memory cards and thumb drives. They come in different capacities and are available from multiple trusted brands.

Choosing the Right Hard Drive
There are two types of hard disks: external and internal drives. An external hard drive is a portable standalone unit attached to a computer. While most external drives connect via USB, some use FireWire, eSATA or Thunderbolt ports. Most internal hard disks connect to computer motherboards via SATA and PATA interfaces.

The three major factors to consider when shopping for external and internal hard drives are speed, storage capacity and cache size. The data transfer speed of an HDD provides a good indication of its performance. For example, a hard drive with a speed of 7200 RPM is faster than a 5400 RPM device. Cache size is another measure of hard drive speed. Cache or buffer refers to the amount of data that a hard drive can transfer at once. Therefore, larger caches produce faster data transfer speeds.

Removable Storage Makes Data Portable
In addition to external hard disks, removable data storage options include memory cards, USB flash drives, CDs and DVDs. Besides portability, each of these data storage devices has other advantages. For example, flash storage options have no moving parts and are therefore more shockproof than hard drives. In addition, memory cards are ideal for copying data between devices such as laptop computers, smartphones and tablets.

Is an SSD a Hard Drive?
An SSD or solid state drive is different from a hard disk drive even though it can also serve as an internal or external storage device. It uses flash memory rather than spinning metal disks for storing data. With no internal moving parts, an SSD transfers data faster than an HDD. It is also more power efficient and quiet.

What Are the Popular Types of Memory Cards?
The three common types of flash memory cards are SD, CompactFlash and Memory Stick cards. While SD cards are the most popular, some high-end digital cameras still use Memory Stick and CompactFlash cards. The SD format has a number of subtypes, including microSD and miniSD cards.

How Long Do USB Flash Drives Last?
Like all data storage devices, USB flash drives do not last forever. Their rated lifespan varies depending on the quality of the memory modules used. On average, a flash drive can last between 10,000 to 100,000 write cycles. When left unused, the drive should retain its content for up to 10 years.

What Is a NAS Server?
A NAS, or network-attached storage device, contains one of more hard drives connected to a wired or wireless network rather than a computer. A NAS server is like an external hard drive, but it provides access to multiple devices simultaneously. Thanks to this shared access, a number of computers, smartphones, tablets and other network devices can move files to and from a NAS server at the same time.

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