“When picking a storage device, you’ll want to balance several factors, including capacity, portability, and cost. Which one you choose will depend on how you intend to use your storage” (Null, n.d., ¶2). Digital cards and USB flash keys are ideal for taking work files home. External hard drives and DVD+/-RWs are best for performing incremental data backups, upgrading from a full hard drive, or expanding system storage. Finally, optical drives like DVD+/-RWs and CD-RWs are great for archiving images, audio, or data as well as for sharing data and multimedia files.
CD-RWs meet most requirements for capacity, price, and speed. The CDs can be used for archiving or performing incremental system backups. At 30¢ or less per CD, it is ideal for sharing files and images. In addition, since CD-RWs come standard on many computer systems or are offered as a customization for a small fee, their compatibility with different computer systems is a non-issue. An internal 52x CD-RW can burn 700MB of data in about 1.5 minutes and costs between $40 and $60.
These drives burn data that can be read by many DVD-ROM drives and set-top DVD players. More expensive that CD-RWs, the CD-sized media averages $10 per DVD. Another thing to consider is that internal DL (dual layered) DVD+/-RWs can cost as much as $100 less than equivalent external models. Therefore, it is a good idea to customize it into new computer systems. An internal 16x DL DVD+/-RW can burn a single layer or 4.7 gigabytes (GB) of data in approximately 7.5 minutes and costs between $50 and $140.
USB Flash Drives
Currently the most popular storage media, these pocketable, featherweight, key-chain sized devices are easily the most convenient way to transport personal files between home and office, or computer to computer. Offering capacities of 32MB to 16GB, they can hold hundreds of digital photos, audio, or documents. The USB Flash Drives that use removable digital cards have several advantages. First, the data can be shared between compatible digital cameras and PDAs (personal data assistants). Second, the removable cards make it easy to supplement your capacity with new cards as needed. Finally, because these drives are solid-state memory, they do not have any moving parts and are less likely to fail. Depending on brand and capacity, the cost of USB Flash Drives are about $20 for 4GB.
External Hard Drive
While “flash memory is optimal for quick, small file transfers, and optical storage is ideal for midsize tasks” (Null, n.d., ¶23), external hard drives are the best option for backing up internal hard drives and transporting really large files. Most external hard drives are simply internal hard rives with fancy shells that contain some sort of shock protection. For tasks that require high-end or fast performance (like backing up gigabytes of data at one time), a model containing a 3.5-inch desktop drive is best. Models that use 2.5-inch laptop drives are usually packaged in convenient pocket-sizes but run at slower rates and cost more.