Mining The Data Storehouse

From palm-sized to fingernail-sized options, Inside explores ways to store data that will save the most space and best stand the test of time

Issue: Apr 2014

Data storage technology has advanced so much that are so many options available to store them
Data storage technology has advanced so much that are so many options available to store them

We live in an information-soaked world. We generate information, we require information, and, most importantly, we want to store that information. Apart from documents, there are personal photographs, home videos, and even movie and music play lists that you might want to store for posterity.

When it comes to data storage, there are three criteria to consider: storage space (how much can it store), longevity (how long can the stored information last with degenerating or being lost), and accessibility (can I easily and readily tap on what I have stored?).

Inside explores some data storage options and weighs in on their pluses and minuses!

1. CD, DVD and Blu Ray Disc

Once the favoured way of storing data, CDs are no longer as popular
Once the favoured way of storing data, CDs are no longer as popular

What: Data can be burnt on CD, DVD or Blu Ray Disc. This used to be the preferred method but has since been overtaken in the popularity stakes by other methods.

Pros: It is a reliable method of backing up your data because the material on the discs cannot be easily or accidentally erased.

Cons: It takes up more space compared to a USB Flash Drive or a memory card of the same storage capacity. Discs can also be easily damaged by mishandling. In addition, because it cannot be re-used, every time new data needs to be included, a new disc is required, making discs a less cost-efficient option.

2. USB Flash Drive

USB flash drives now come in an assortment of designs, and storage capacities to suit every taste and need
USB flash drives now come in an assortment of designs, and storage capacities to suit every taste and need

What: A USB flash drive is a small, portable data storage device that is plugged into a computer’s USB port. It includes flash memory that allows the USB drive to be erased and reprogrammed, so information can be easily transferred from one computer to another.

Challenger, Courts, and Harvey Norman have a wide range of USB drives with different storage capacities to choose from.

Pros: Conveniently portable, USB flash drives are also remarkably resilient. They can withstand being dropped or even trampled on without damaging the data within. Newer types also come with a security feature that password protects the flash drive.

Cons: Easy to misplace because they are so tiny.

3. Memory Card

Memory cards are popularly used in electronic devices and can be used with laptops as well
Memory cards are popularly used in electronic devices and can be used with laptops as well

What: Memory cards (sometimes called flash memory cards or storage cards), are storage devices popularly used in electronic devices like used like digital cameras, mobile phones, MP3 players, and video game consoles. Like the USB flash drive, they use flash memory technology as well.

Pros: They can be used across several different electronic devices, making the transfer of data from one device to another very easy. Memory cards can retain data without power, making the data stored on the card stable. They are also highly durable because they have no moving parts.

Cons: They are easy to lose. There is no way to hook a lanyard to their cases, unlike USB flash drives. They cost more than a USB flash drive of the same storage capacity. All computers have USB ports. Not all have a built-in card reader. Carting around a portable card reader just takes away from the convenience of using a memory cad compared to a USB flash drive.

4. External or Portable Hard Drive

External or portable hard drives provide handy storage options that have the ease-of-use of a USB flash drive but with a much bigger storage capacity
External or portable hard drives provide handy storage options that have the ease-of-use of a USB flash drive but with a much bigger storage capacity

What: Usually wired, although some can be wireless, there are two types of external hard drives: solid-state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD). SSD, unlike HDD, has no moving parts and are, therefore, lighter and less likely to be damaged. A USB thumb drive is a type of SSD.

Challenger has the Samsung Portable M3 1TB External Hard Drive (S$119) that has a capacity of up to 1TB and comes with in a durable design that can withstand the rigours of daily use.

The Sony Hard Disk USB 3.0 (S$129 for the 1.0TB [tetrabyte] and S$229 for the 2TB) comes with a Password Protection Manager software for greater security. It also allows you to use it with other Sony devices like the PlayStation 3.

The Sony Portable Wireless Server WG-C20 (S$139) lets you share content with up to eight different devices at once. Connect it to your smartphone via Wi-Fi and you can backup your data, and store videos and pictures on the go.

Pros: Easy to use, particularly the wireless versions that require no cables to connect the device.

Cons: Hard disk drives run the risk of failures. Solid-state drives are more stable, have larger storage capacities but are more expensive.

5. NAS Device

An NAS (network-attached storage) is a server dedicated solely to storing data and is useful for allowing multiple users to access the same data
An NAS (network-attached storage) is a server dedicated solely to storing data and is useful for allowing multiple users to access the same data

What: An NAS (network-attached storage) is a server dedicated solely to storing data. So, it does not provide other server functions like e-mails, authentication or file management. Operated wired or wirelessly, when configured, it adds another drive to your computer. It is different from an external or portable hard drive in that it can be connected to more than one computer at a time.

Pros: Many computers can tap into this storage system at once, making it an easy way to store and share files over the network. This is great for small businesses.

Cons: It can be more costly than other options. Harvey Norman’s D-Link 1TB Network Attached Storage, for example, costs S$350.

6. Virtual Options

Remote servers can host your information in a service called the
Remote servers can host your information in a service called the “Cloud”

What: You can store your data online on a remote server, a service know as the “Cloud”. There are a number of such virtual locations - Mozy.com, ADrive.com, and Dropbox.com. Apple has its own system, the iCloud, that allows you to sync various of its devices

Pros: It is easy and often free if you do not require much space (1GB and less). It allows multiple users to tap into the same data. Because it is remote, it is easily accessible.

Cons: If you require a lot of storage space, you have to pay for it and it can cost anything from US$25 to a few hundred a year. There is also the risk of the site closing down.

7. Future Possibilities

What: Hitachi is developing a way to etch information on quartz glass. This is said to be able to keep the information stable for millions of years. In a test, the bit of glass was heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius for two hours and the information stored on it could still be retrieved.

A research team in Swinburne University of Technology has developed a new data storage method that can put a petabyte of information on a DVD-sized polymer disk. To put this in perspective, a gigabyte is 1,000 million bytes; a terabyte is a million million bytes; a petabyte is 1,000 million million bytes. With two petabyte, you can store all the material from US academic research libraries.

As technology advances, the number of options for storing data has not only increased, the size and storage capacities of the devices have also improved. This bodes well for the preservation and transmission of data in the future.

Shop with us:

Harvey Norman
109 North Bridge Road
Funan DigitaLife Mall
#B1-01
Singapore 179097
Tel: (65) 6334 5432
www.harveynorman.com.sg
Harvey Norman
252 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Singapore
#03-22/23
Singapore 179103
Tel: (65) 6339 6777
www.harveynorman.com.sg
Harvey Norman
1 Jelebu Road
Bukit Panjang Plaza
#04-04A/05
Singapore 677743
Tel: (65) 6767 1500
www.harveynorman.com.sg
Courts
109 North Bridge Road
Funan DigitaLife Mall
#03-10/12/13
Singapore 179097
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Courts
1 Vista Exchange Green
The Star Vista
#01-14/15/16
Singapore 138617
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Courts
21 Chua Chu Kang Ave 4
Lot One Shoppers' Mall
#03-01
Singapore 689812
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Courts
3 Tampines Central 5
Tampines Mall
#03-25
Singapore 529510
Tel: 1800-222 6868
www.courts.com.sg
Challenger
200 Victoria Street
Bugis Junction
#03-10e
Singapore 188021
Tel: (65) 6513 4767
www.challenger.com.sg
Challenger
109 North Bridge Rd
Funan DigitaLife Mall
#06-00
Singapore 179097
Tel: (65) 6339 9008
www.challenger.com.sg
Challenger
2 Jurong East St 21
IMM
#02-23/23A
Singapore 609601
Tel: (65) 6426 9123
www.challenger.com.sg
Challenger
2 Jurong East Central 1
JCube
#02-11
Singapore 609731
Tel: (65) 6592 5376
www.challenger.com.sg
Challenger
21 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4
Lot One
#03-05/06/07/08/08A
Singapore 689812
Tel: (65) 6894 5868
www.challenger.com.sg
Challenger
68 Orchard Rd
Plaza Singapura
#04-12/12A
Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6837 8797
www.challenger.com.sg
Sony
2 Jurong East Street 21
IMM
#01-23/24/25
Singapore 609601
Tel: (65) 6566 9212
www.sony.com.sg
Sony
311 New Changi Road
Bedok Mall
#B1-57
Singapore 467360
Tel: (65) 6844 9871
www.sony.com.sg
Sony
109 North Bridge Road
Funan Digitalife Mall
#03-02/05
Singapore 179097
Tel: (65) 6339 1110
www.sony.com.sg
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