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What Are Storage Drives

Storage drives are devices for permanently storing data, as opposed to RAM which is used for storing data temporarily while the device is turned on. Storage drives comprise a large number of different devices including hard disks, solid state drives, Flash cards, USB drives, optical drives and various other solutions. There are various types of controllers (ports) which storage devices plug into. Internal storage devices such as hard disks and optical drives typically use the SATA controller, although older models used to use the IDE controller which is now being phased out.

A hard disk is one of the most important kinds of storage device found in your computer. This is where all of your data and programs are stored. Traditional hard drives are a type of magnetic storage device containing multiple spinning disks inside of a metal enclosure. Solid state drives, by contrast, are hard disks which do not contain any moving parts. Instead, they contain a type of flash memory. While they are currently far more expensive and only available in relatively low capacities, solid state drives are much faster and less prone to mechanical failure.

Most computers, except for netbooks and ultra-compact laptops, contain an optical drive. DVD drives are standard these days, due to the fact that they can also read CDs as well. Higher-end computers often come with a Blu-ray drive. These are also backwards compatible with CD and DVD. Almost all DVD drives available these days are able to both read and write data to CD and DVD. Blu-ray drives are often able to do this as well, although optical drives which can write data to Blu-ray media are considerably rarer due to their high costs.

Another everyday type of storage drive consists of external devices which use flash memory. These include USB pen drives and flash memory cards. The former offers an especially easy and efficient way of transferring large amounts of data between different computers or for keeping files with you when you're on the move. Flash memory cards can also be used for this purpose, though they are more often found in digital cameras or mobile phones due to their fairly high capacities and very small physical sizes. There are various different types of flash memory card and most newer computers contain card readers which support all of the popular standards.

Largely obsolete though still sometimes referred to in the computing world are floppy disk drives. Back in the 90s, these were the standard way of storing data, but their slow speed and extremely low capacities (1.44 MB) meant that they were quickly phased out. New computers do not come with a floppy disk drive and few retailers sell floppy disk media any more.


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