Storage devices

Storage devices

Storage devices are used to store data. There are many ways to store data - handwritten papers are in fact a way to preserve data - but for now we’ll stick to the digital domain. Digital data is made up of bits which can be 0 or 1. A WAV sound file contains approximately 40.000.000 bits (40 MB). This can be stored on a digital storage device such as a hard disk, a USB-stick or CD depending on the application. USB sticks are often used for short-term storage while HDs and CDs are used to store data for a longer period. A computer or server is usually used to store downloaded music. Since high quality audio files can be quite large, you need a hard disk with enough free space.

There are two different types of hard disk, a hard disk drive (HDD) that can be found in most computers, and a solid state disk (SSD) which uses flash memory. Because there are no moving parts in SSDs they are faster in reading and writing data. However, the price of an SSD is significantly higher than that of an HDD making them less attractive to store many large files. In terms of speed, a SSD isn’t needed for audio playback. The speed of a conventional HDD is enough for this.

Mobile storage media

Sometimes, writable CDs or DVDs are used for storing audio. For short-term storage they are good but the quality of these CDs degrades in a few years making them less ideal for long-term audio storage. CDs from record-company’s or labels aren’t affected by this degradation since they are pressed in a professional way and can’t be rewritten. Therefore it’s a good idea to preserve your original audio CDs.

USB-sticks also use flash memory. Because the technique to use flash is relatively new it is unclear how the data is preserved over a couple of years. Research, however, suggests isn't that reliable. Flash memory is used in USB sticks and data is stored as an electrical charge on a semiconductor. These semiconductors will dissipate in a couple of years which will make the data unreliable. The small size of USB sticks makes them however ideal for data transfer from one computer to another without the need of an internet connection.

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