RT Cunningham


Digital Storage Media and External Data Storage Options

digital storage mediaI’m constantly learning about digital storage media. Although there are merits to both, I prefer hardware storage options over cloud storage options. The options for each are constantly changing, but not as fast as most of us would like.

I hope I can share some ideas to make things easier, or less expensive or both when it comes to external data storage options. Unless you can afford the latest and the greatest, you can’t be guaranteed to have enough space on whatever device you use every day.

Digital Storage Media

Digital storage media includes devices such as USB flash drives and SD cards. It also includes hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD), regardless of the interfaces. Although I’ve heard of magnetic tape drives, I’ve never seen them in action (well, not since everything was analog).

The media and some of the devices that house them tend to get less expensive as they increase in capacity. You can buy USB flash drives today that can hold more data than an HDD or SDD inside a laptop computer. And they cost less. SD cards will someday be the same way. Anything that can be plugged into a USB port or a card slot can be swapped out quickly.

There is another, less well known digital storage media interface. If you never use your CD/DVD drive, you can replace it with a drive caddy. I can find inexpensive drive caddies on under a variety of names, but “drive caddy” brings them right up when doing a search.

I own USB flash drives with bootable operating systems on them. Although I’ve used them in the past, I no longer have any SD cards (which I intend to rectify). I also want a few drive caddies for multiple laptops because I haven’t used a CD or DVD in one in more than 10 years.

Cloud Storage

I’ve mentioned online storage drive clients and file sync software in the past. If you can get away with using the “free” allotments, you’ll be doing well. There is one big disadvantage with cloud storage that you can’t ignore. It may not matter to you if you’re always online, but you must be online to use cloud storage.

When you use digital storage media locally, the only thing you have to pay for is your investment in the hardware. With cloud storage, you can end up spending a lot of money if you need more than the average amount of storage space.

I’ve had a Dropbox account for years. If I’m not mistaken, I have just over 5 gigabytes available. I have never used more than 100 megabytes because I only store website backups. I’m planning to switch to SD cards, so I won’t have to have the Dropbox client running all the time. I can do periodic backups with a few simple scripts.

I have just under 15 gigabytes available with Google Drive (with a small amount used for Gmail storage) and it’s just one of many accounts I have for cloud storage. Other than what I already use with Google Drive and Dropbox, I’ll probably never use any of the space from the other services.

Cloud storage, with some of the services, is good for file sharing and collaboration. It’s not something I need, but I can see how some people need it.

Looking to the Future

If I could anticipate the direction technology is heading, I could get rich by investing in “the next big thing”. Technology is getting cheaper and more reliable. I can now buy gigabytes for far less than I could buy megabytes in the 1990s. I’m sure there will come a time when I (and I’m only speaking for me) will never need more.

In the meantime, I can only give you simple advice: Buy only what’s needed and nothing extra. That extra could end up being wasted on something you may never use.

Photo Attribution: Photo Mix at Pixabay

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By RT Cunningham
December 14, 2019

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