Skip to main content

Types of Data Storage

Data Storage in Society

Technology has become so prevalent in society. Most homes have multiple advanced devices and this means mountains of data needing a place to live. PCs, TVs, phones, tablets, video games, and even cutting edge appliances have incorporated hardware for storing, processing and transmitting information from users.

Data storage is the saving of files for retrieval and use later. We are only going over consumer level storage in this article.

DAS (Direct Attached Storage)

DAS speaks for itself. Direct Attached Storage is media(hardware) directly attached or installed on a device. Hard disk drives(HDD), solid state drives(SSD), RAM, thumb drives(portable SSD) and SD cards. This list is far from comprehensive several articles would only cover the common media used today. Onboard direct storage will not be covered.

Lets begin with hard drives.

Hard Drives (HDD)

The most common method to keeping your favorite stuff stored at home are HDDs. Hard Disk Drives are mechanical storage devices using a platter and plate system to physically store information in a magnetic medium.

Most drives operate at 3600 or 7200 RPM. They are available in nearly any size. Most commonly between 60 and 120GB. There is always a control board in place to help the devices connect, communicate and execute there code efficiently.

Along with capacity R/W(read and write) speeds are a measure of how quick information can be saved to and retrieved from the disk. Seek time is important for live application and responsiveness. Seek time refers to the amount of time it takes for the PC to find and initiate the drive for use.

HDD w/ exposed arm and platter

Scroll to Continue

Solid State Drives (SSD)

In comparison to HDD solid state drives are a massive improvement across the board. Latency and longevity are the most notable.

The solid state of the drive is exactly what its name implies. A drive that uses no motors, platters, arms or heads to record data. Data on SSDs is stored on NAND flash comprised of floating transistors. The floating transistors are in an always on or charged state which allows for awesome speeds in initial read and write processes.

The density of NAND cells determines their performance where where HDDs were limited by their RPM. The way these drives handle erasure and overwrites is their only limitation. The files marked for deletion need to be moved before they are removed. The drive must put the old data into plank pages on the device, write the current data and then delete the file.


RAM(random access memory) is the fastest medium to store and access information on you device. Current technology only allow for temporary storage of data on an as needed basis. The operating system of the device and the applications that run on it use RAM to recall data they use frequently. You can consider RAM the ultraswift freighter for data on demand.

The current standard for RAM is DDR4 with clocks between 2133mhz and 3200mhz. DDR3 -DDR were the immediate precursors to DDR4. Earlier still, SDRAM was the standard at beginning of the personal computing revolution.



Thumb Drives

The essence of a thumb drive is pretty simple. A USB stick composed of a composite shell, controller board and memory that is closer to read only memory than RAM. Because the unit does need power to retain data, it is more closely related to ROM.

A very simple explanation of flash memory storage can given through the use transistor gates. Flash transistors have more gates than a typical storage mediums. The extra gate stays open after power off to allow a trickle of electrons into the device. This tiny little charge allows for data to store at 1 and not at 0.

Related Articles