Different types of storage media

Storage media is a term used to describe data storage devices which are designed to store information and data. Storing of the information can be done in a variety of ways, such as optically or magnetically. Storage media hold information and/or process it. Storage media is also known as computer storage or electronic storage. Over time, the ease of using storage media has increased, with it becoming quite ubiquitous and less expensive. There are different types of storage media, all in a broad range of storage capacity, portability, and cost.

Related Terminology

These are some terms that are useful to be familiar with while learning about storage media:
  • Address Bus: Used to specify a physical location.
  • Bytes: adjacent bits of eight processed by a computer as a unit; further divided into kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes as the number of bytes increases.
  • Compact Disk-Rewritable – Known in short as CD-RW and is a rewritable optical disk format.
  • Data Bus: transfers data between computer components either with inside a computer or between computers.
  • Data Storage Device – A device used for recording information or data.
  • Data: bits and pieces of information
    A CD-ROM, a type of storage media
  • Delay lines: Form of computer storage used on some of the earliest versions of digital computers.
  • Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) – Also known as a Digital Video Disk and is an optical disk storage media format invented by Toshiba and Time Warner in 1995.
  • Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) – A type of random access memory in which each bit of data is stored in a separate capacitor inside an integrated circuit.
  • Floppy disk – A flexible plastic disk which is coated with magnetic material and covered by a protective jacket, which is used to store data from the computer magnetically.
  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD) – A non-volatile storage device that stores digitally encoded data rotating magnetic rigid platters.
  • Hard Disk Drives: Stores digitally encoded data on a rapidly rotating grid.
  • Information: communicated knowledge
  • Inseparable methods: methods where disconnecting from the unit causes a loss of memory
  • Magnetic Core Memory: early form of Random Access Memory.
  • Magnetic Drums: Magnetic storage device used in early computer storage.
  • Magnetic Storage: Storage of data on magnetized medium.
  • Magnetic storage: the storage of data on a magnetized medium, like hard drives
  • Mass storage: Storage of large amounts of data.
  • Mechanical storage: the storage of data in pins/holes or grooves
    Different USB Drives
  • Medium – Storage and transmission channels or tools that store and deliver information or data.
  • Memory Address: Identifier for a memory location.
  • Memory Card – A small storage medium used to store data on small computing devices.
  • Memory Management Unit: Responsible for handling accesses to memory requested by the CPU (Central Processing Unit).
  • Nonvolatile Memory – Computer memory that does not require power to maintain stored information.
  • Optical storage: the storage of data on an optically readable medium, such as CD-ROMs.
  • Photochemical storage: the storage of data on a substance that reacts chemically to light, such as film
  • Portable methods: methods that allow data to be easily replaced when writing to and from a storage medium
  • Random Access Memory (RAM) – A form of computer data storage that allows stored data to be accessed in any order.
  • Read-Only Memory (ROM) – A class of storage media used in electronic devices such as computers.
  • Semi-portable methods: methods requiring mechanical disassembly tools and/or opening a chassis
  • Solid-State Drive (SSD) – A data storage device that stores persistent data by using solid state memory.
    A Williams Tube
  • Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) – A type of semiconductor memory that does not need to be periodically refreshed.
  • Storage/Memory: refers to the computers components, devices, and recording media that hold that computers digital date for a period of time.
  • these elements cause
  • USB Drive – A hard disk drive connected through Universal Serial Bus (USB).
  • Volatile Storage – Computer memory that requires power to maintain the stored information
  • Williams Tubes: a Cathode Ray Tube used to store binary information
  • Zip Drive – A removable disk storage system with medium-capacity of about seven hundred megabytes (MB).


The first media storage device was the punch card, created in the 1940’s. Towards the end of the 1940’s, the first magnetic memory for a computer was created. In the next
The phonograph, another early storage/recording device
decade, the first automatic computer, which used magnetic tape for memory, was created. Also, IBM introduced the first hard disk drive in the RAMAC. In 1963, the first storage unit was created with removable disks. Three years later, computer storage became digital. In 1970, storage became portable with the invention of the floppy disk. And, seven years later, the current CD was born. Not many advances were made until almost twenty years later, when the first digital video camera was invented. The first DVD-ROM drives specifically made for personal use were made. In 2000, IBM introduced the 1-GB microdrive. Two years later, the USB came out. In 2004, Blu Ray discs were created and began being sold in stores.

Punch Tape: The first punched tape was created in 1864 by Alexander Bain. Each row on the tape represents one character, but since you easily could create a fanfold you could store significantly more data using the punched tape compared to the punch cards.
Selectron Tubes: In 1946 RCA started the development of the Selectron tube. It was an early form of computer memory and the largest selectron tube measured 10 inches and could store 4096 bits. As these tubes were very expensive, they were very short-lived on the market.
Magnetic Tape: In the 1950s magnetic tapes was first used by IBM to store data on magnetic tape. Since one roll of magnetic tape could store as much data as 10 000 punch cards it became an instant success and became the most popular way of storing computer data until the mid 1980s.
Floppy Disk: In 1969 the first floppy disk was introduced. It was a read-only 8 inch disk that could store 80kB of data. 4 years later, in 1973, the a similar floppy disk with the same size could store 256kB of data plus it was possible to write new data again and again. Since then the trend has been the same – smaller floppy disks that could store more data. In the late 1990s you could get a hold of 3 inch disks that could store 250 MB of data.
Hard Drive: The hard drive is still a product that is under constant development. The Hitachi Deskstar 7K500 that you can see on the image above is the first hard disk drive that can store 500 GB of data – or approximately 120,000 times more data than the world’s first hard drive IBM 305 RAMAC. The trend is crystal clear; for each year we get cheaper drives that can store more data faster
Compact Disc (CD): The compact disc originates from the laser disc, but it’s much smaller (and stores less data). It was developed in a co-operation between SONY and Philips back in 1979 and the Compact Disc reached the market late in 1982. A typical CD of today can store 700 MB of data.
Floppy Disks


They are basically used for storage; mainly for personal use. However, they are also used by companies, businesses, etc. They are used to store files and information for access on any computer. They may be used to store things such as text documents, pictures, music, and movies. They enable you to quickly copy data off a laptop, desktop, or server, and then transport and transfer the data onto a different computer than which it was originally saved to. They can be used to store all ranges of data, from tiny amounts to very large amounts.

There are many uses of storage media and devices. One way is to store movies on a DVD. Many people all over the country buy DVD’s. This is one of the more popular uses of storage devices. Another popular one is a CD. These are used to store music. Another way to store music is an IPod or MP3. They are used a lot more by teenagers, while CD’s are used by children. Another thing that teenagers have is a cell phone. Cell phones can be used for storing pictures, videos, games and messages between two people. Cameras also use storage devices, they are called memory cards. Memory cards allow you to take multiple pictures and save them to one card. They are very useful when you want to upload your pictures to a computer.

Some examples of storage media such as Zip Disks
Computers are also a storage device. They allow you to save multiple things to one place. You can save word documents on it, or music, pictures, videos, and many more things. Computers are a very popular piece of technology in this era. Almost every body knows how to work one and many people have them in their house or office. Most people also have smaller things to store data on. One common thing is a floppy disk. A floppy disk is mainly used for storing data.
There are two different types of storage, primary and secondary. The majority of secondary storage is used for a simple task: backing up data. Most computers are filled with documents, pictures, videos, music, and applications. Backing up your computer is always recommended in case there is a hard drive crash on your computer.
Another use of secondary storage is to be an external hard drive. If your computers hard drive is getting full, why not just add on an external hard drive? Doing this will simplify the process of upgrading more storage because you don’t want to crack open your computer. You could add a secondary storage device using a USB port. Now you will have up to two terabytes of space on your computer. For people that are unable to upgrade the hard drives on their notebook, this is an ideal solution for them.

different types and uses of storage media

Different Types


Blu-ray is state of the art optical disc storage device that surpasses the standard DVD and Compact disk format. Blu-rays are most commonly used for high-definition videos and Plblu-ray_2.gif
Blu-Ray logo
aystation 3. Blu-Ray uses state of the art technology to use shorter wavelengths to store almost ten times as much as a standard DVD. A standard, single layer Blu-Ray disc can hold up to 27GB and a dual layer can hold up to 50GB. Modified Blu-Ray discs can hold up to 200GB. Comparable DVDs can hold up to 4.7GB on a single layer disc, and a dual layer can hold up to 8.5GB.external image moz-screenshot.jpg

CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray differences

How It Works

Blu-Ray’s name results from the blue-violet laser that is used to read the discs. The blue laser functions at a wavelength of 405 nm to read and write data. Because the wavelengths are shorter the spot size, or area where the laser can be focused at one time, is smaller allowing more data to be stored in a given area. To reduce unwanted visual effects the cover layer was made thinner, which made it more vulnerable to scratching. They developed a scratch protection coating.external image moz-screenshot-3.jpg

Blu-Ray Players

Blu-Ray players are equipped with Dolby True HD. With this high definition sound immerses the room in sound that is as spectacular as the master recording. This allows Blu-Ray audio to be played at its full potential. Blu-Ray players are also equipped with 1080p video output. This means that 1,080 lines of vertical resolution are progressively scanned across the screen so that the image is not interlaced.

The different types of storage media devices range dramatically from RAM (random access memory) to Blu-Ray disks. Generally, storage devices are classified by their volatility and capacity. The volatility of a storage device depends on its need for electricity.
Volatile devices
Volatile devices need constant electricity to store information. Most types of RAM are volatile. They are generally much faster than non-volatile devices. The two main types of volatile memory are dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and static random access memory (SRAM). DRAM stores each bit of the information on a separate capacitor on the integrated circuit. Because the circuits cannot hold a charge for long, the information will fade unless it is constantly refreshed with power. DRAM makes up for this by its small size. It requires only 1 transistor and 1 capacitor per bit of information. SRAM is similar to DRAM, but SRAM uses a multi vibrator latch which is more stable than a capacitor. However, SRAM will eventually loose power and the memory will be lost if it is not supplied, making it a volatile type of storage device. SRAM requires 6 transistors per bit, making it larger and less efficient than DRAM.
Non-volatile devices
Non-volatile devices do not require constant power to store memory, and can be used for long term shortage. ROM (read-only memory), flash disks, hard disks, and optical memory devices are examples of non-volatile devices. There are two main types of non-volatile memory or NVM: electrically addressed systems and mechanically addressed systems. Electrically addressed systems are fast but expensive, where mechanically addressed systems are slower but cheaper. Electrically addressed systems are mostly some type of ROM. ROM (read only memory) is a type of memory where you cannot change the code of the memory device once it has been initially set. For example, if the first time a bit of ROM is changed from a 0 to a 1, it can never be changed
a solid state drive, and example of a non-volatile device
back to a 0. Some NVM devices have erasable memory, memory that can be changed, such as EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read only memory). EEPROM has the ability to be able to erase one part of the memory without erasing the entire chip or removing the device to erase memory. EEPROM is usually used in dial up modems or satellite receivers.


Definition: A high-density compact disk for storing large amounts of data, especially high-resolution audio-visual material. DVD actually stands for Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc.
A DVD’s main use is video and data storage. Compact discs or (CD) have the same dimensions as a DVD. Although DVD’s store up to six times as much Data as CD’s do. DVD’s are much more compatible then CD’s.

There are several different variations of a DVD. DVD-ROM (read only memory) holds data that can only be read and cannot be written. DVD-R and DVD+R (recordable) records data once and than works as a DVD-ROM. DVD-RW (re-writable), DVD+ RW, and DVD-RAM (random access memory) all work doing the same thing. They record and erase date multiple times. DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs refer to properly formatted and structured video and audio content.

History of the DVD

In 1993 there were 2 optical discs being made. One was Multi Media Compact Disc (MMCD), also called CDI. Backed by Philips and Sony.
The other type DVD was the Super Density (SD) disc it was supported by Toshiba, Time Warner Matsushita Electric, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Thomson, and JVC. An IBM’s researcher help put together the Technical Working Group or TWG, it had people from Apple, Microsoft, Sun, Dell, and a few other companies.

The Release of the DVD

At one point the TWG boycotted till the two designs were the same. They eventually did after pressure was applied by the IBM president, they agreed to one format called the DVD. The first DVD video format was first introduced by Toshiba in Japan in November 1996, and released in the United States in March 1997. In May 1997, the DVD Consortium was replaced by the DVD Forum.

the DVD logo

Technology and Capacity

A DVD uses 650 nm ( nanometers) wavelength laser18× or 20× diode light. CD’s only use 780 nm. Writing speeds for the DVD began at 1x, but more recent models use 18× or 20× writing speed.
The basic types of a DVD are referred to by a rough approximation of their capacity in gigabytes.

Sector: a physical subdivision of space on a computer disk-storage medium, specifically a subdivision of a "track"
Megabyte (MB): multiple of the unit byte for digital information storage or transmission with two different values depending on context
Gigabyte (GB): m ultiple of the unit byte for digital information storage.

DVD Security

DVD Audio discs employ a DRM mechanism, called Content Protection for Prerecorded Media (CPPM), developed by the 4C group (IBM, Intel, Matsushita, and Toshiba).

DVD Recordable and Rewriteable

HP (Hewlett-Packard) cre ated a recordable DVD media from the need to store data for backup and transport.
DVD Recordable is used for consumer audio and video recording. There were three types of formats created. Those were DVD-R/RW (hyphen), DVD+R/RW (plus), and DVD-RAM.
Even though most DVD drives and players
can now read the DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW formats, the "plus" and the "dash" formats are extremely different physically.

Dual-Layer Recording

Dual-layer recording (sometimes also known as double-layer recording) allows DVD-R and DVD+R discs to store significantly more data—up to 8.54 gigabytes per disc. A dual-layer disc differs from its usual DVD counterpart by employing a second physical layer within the disc itself.
DVD recordable discs supporting this technology are backward-compatible with some existing DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.

DVD Audio and Video

DVD Video is a standard for content on DVD media. DVD Video is the dominant form of home video distribution worldwide. DVD Video supports features such as menus, selectable subtitles, multiple camera angles, and multiple audio tracks.
DVD Audio is a format for delivering high fidelity audio content on a DVD. DVD audio offers many channel configuration options. Compared with the CD format, the much higher-capacity DVD format enables the inclusion of considerably more music and higher audio quality.

Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD

Solid State Drives


Solid-state drives have come a long way since they were first introduced. A solid-state drive is a data storage device that uses solid state memory to store persistent data. Solid-state refers to memory that is built entirely from semi conductors. They are built to imitate hard disk drives, making them replaceable in most cases. The first “SSD” devices were used for memory with vacuum tube computers. When cheaper alternatives were produced, the devices were no longer used. They emerged again for use in the supercomputers of the ‘70s and ‘80s. These were built-to-order, and were very expensive. The first modern type of solid-state drive was built in 1978 by StorageTek. In 1995, flash-based solid-state drives were introduced by M-Systems, later acquired by SanDisk. At Cebit 2009, a 1 TB flash SSD was demonstrated by OCZ. It has a maximum write speed of 654MB/s and maximum read speed of 712MB/s.

A SSD usually consists of DRAM volatile memory or NAND non-volatile memory. Most use non-volatile memory as it does not lose its information when power is lost, however some use volatile memory, which comes with a rechargeable battery pack for back up power.

Solid State Drives Today

The main difference between an ssd (solid state drive) and other storage media is that an ssd is not magnetic, like a hard disk and not optical, like a compact disk. It is a solid state semi conductor meaning it utilizes electrical semi-conductors similarly to battery backed RAM. The reason this makes solid state more useful is the fact that it is resistant to strong magnetic fields which might damage data kept on storage devices relying on magnets. It is as well more resilient to heat and vibrations. The most common type of portable ssd is the flash drive memory sticks. They are also the most useful because they do not require batteries and can hold quite large amounts of data while still being compact and portable. One of the main downsides to ssd is the higher cost per mega-byte compared to other types of storage media. However they are generally cheaper when you factor in the cost of replacing less reliable storage devices. This is because ssd have a much longer longevity than other storage media types.


Today Storage Devices are Advanced, and Will Get Even More So In the Future

Today’s storage devices are based on magnetic or optical technology. They may be sufficient for today’s need but are hurling toward the break of great power. There are new storage devices on the horizon.

How Holographic memory would work

Tomorrow's Storage Devices

Today many digital devices use light to store digital data. There are 2 types of optical discs: compact discs and digital video discs. Now scientists have began to work on high capacity storage media based on what is called “holographic memory.” This uses interference of light in light-sensitive crystals to store data. The digital information is stored within the entire volume of the storage device. Holographic memory and storage is also an emerging new technology.

Molecular Memory

The brains of a computer is the semiconductor chip. Over the last 35 years scientists and engineers have been making computers faster by smaller and cheaper microchips by packing millions of transistors into a chip. Instead of carving transistors and other microelectronic devices out of chunks of silicon we may use organic molecules. Even large molecules are a few nanometers (nanometer is a billionth of a meter) in size. This will possibly make tiny supercomputers or memories with a million times the storage density of today’s semiconductor chips. Several industrial and leading academic labs are already working on “molecular electronics”.

The Future and Potential for Universal Serial Bus (USB)geholographic_9.jpg

The future for USB, is the USB 3.0 standard that will work at 4.8 gbps, Ten times the current technology. The new USB technology will increase the speed and have better power consumption. To put in perspective, currently it would take 15 minutes to copy a 27gb HD film. The new standard will accomplish the copy in 70 seconds.


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