What is Data Storage?

what is data storage

Tech to back-up the important stuff for the home and small office

What is data storage? From cave art to Cloud computing, we humans have always been packrats of data. Whether it’s generations of family photos and home movies or critical business files, we know we need to keep copies of things that are important. If a family has a lot of material, it can be daunting to take those first steps. And on the small business side, it’s easy to fall into a “I’ll deal with backing up files when I have time” mindset. But, deep down, we know it needs to be done.

This urge to preserve what’s important seems to be hardwired into our brains. Check out this time line of Past, Present, Future of Data Storage from Mozy! From cave art to the Cloud, we humans have always been figuring out how to preserve the things that mean the most.

Data Storage Timeline
Courtesy Mozy

What is data storage? Preserving by way of bits and bytes

Every few years, the expected storage norm changes. Nowadays, gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB) seem reasonable when it comes to hard drives for the small office or families with a lot of digital assets. But before too long, you’ll be seeing these terms as the new norm:

  • petabyte (PB) equals 1,024 TB
  • exabyte (EB) equals 1,024 PB
  • zettabyte (ZB), equals 1,024 PB
  • yottabyte (YB), equals 1,024 ZB

And for more mind-numbing terms, there are brontobytes, geopbytes, xenottabytes, shilentnobytes and domegemegrottebytes!

The problem with preserving everything is that we quickly run out of space—even in the digital realm. Experts estimate that more than 2.7 zettabytes of data exist in the digital universe today. And about 90% of that has been created in the last few years!

Big Data vs. Long Data

Big Data is certainly a buzzword among businesses today. Right now, companies use Big Data to analyze trends and behaviors. But over time, years of raw data will enable long-term mining to yield even more insights. That’s Long Data. And it’s a greedy beast when it comes to storage space.

Long Data’s need to store years’ and decades’ worth of data is spurring research into new ways to increase storage capacity:

Other ideas include:

Types of data storage for the rest of us

As exciting and exotic as all these developments are, for most consumers, they just want to be able archive family photos and back up business files for their small businesses. For them, long term data storage means keeping things safe for a few years.

But many types of data storage don’t particularly have a long life. So, it’s important to remind your customers to transfer that data to another long-term data storage solution every few years, as the first one will surely become corrupted over time.

As a retailer who sells to families as well as small businesses, you have the opportunity to offer all kinds of affordable physical data storage media that meets today’s needs—even if it isn’t DNA or holographic based!

Home data storage solutions

Fortunately, home data storage solutions have been in place for a number of years. Both optical media and external data storage devices are reasonably priced. And they can store years’ worth of family photos, home movies, favorite songs and important documents.

  • CDs. CD-R and CD-RW discs hold 700 MB or about 80 minutes of audio. These are ideal for storing custom music mixes, digitized vinyl records, home financial worksheets and photos from special occasions. RW rewritables can be erased and reused up to 1,000 times.
  • DVDs. DVD+R and -R discs hold 4.7GB of data or about 120 minutes of video. They are perfect for those precious home movies and old images that have been digitized. They are also a great place to store digital family vacation photos and videos shot on smartphones or digital cameras.
  • Flash drives. Whether it’s called a flash drive, USB drive or a thumb drive, these handy drives come in a variety of storage capacities. Many are USB 3.0 compatible for super-fast transfer speeds. They are great for moving data between PCs, notebooks, tablets and even smartphones.
  • Backup drives for smartphones. Taking photos with smartphones is easy. Figuring out what to do with the images when they start hogging memory space is not. Show your customers the specialized flash drives and storage units made just for smartphones.
  • Memory cards for cameras + Universal card readers. These cards come in a variety of formats and speed classes to best match different devices and uses. Universal card readers allow families to easily transfer the contents from all the different cards onto their PCs for organization and then storage on other devices.

Don’t forget the add-ons!

Other computer peripherals that will appeal to families include:

  • Laser lens cleaners. CD, DVD and Blu-Ray players and burners as well as game consoles use lasers to read and write their discs. Use of a lens cleaner can keep devices running at their peak, keeping peace in the family while minimizing disc skipping or read errors. Some systems are dry, others are a combination of wet and dry. They are easy and safe to use.
  • CD/DVD sleeves and cases, albums and storage unitsAll that optical media can easily be organized and stored using these low-tech solutions.
  • All-in-one printers. Rather than use a scanning service, families often prefer to do their own. An all-in-one printer not only prints and copies, it can scan photos and make high-resolution digital files. Many multi-function printers will pair to a home’s Wi-Fi system to print from wireless devices like smartphones or even from the Cloud.

Small business data storage solutions

When a small business finally decides their computers need backing up, retailers can offer several very practical and affordable solutions, ones that don’t require the Cloud or monthly subscription fees.

  • Hard drives. With their large capacity and small footprint, external hard drives and solid-state (SSD) drives are ideal for backing up files. And because they are so small, they can be stored off-site for safety and security.
  • CDs/DVDsProfessional-grade optical discs burn at the highest rated speeds of the drives and can last a lifetime, making them perfect for archiving valuable business documents and images. Many are available in inkjet hub printable versions.
  • Flash drivesFor presentations on the go, nothing beats a flash drive. Super large capacity ones work as backups while pro-grade ones come with encryption options.
  • Optical burnersMany computers no longer come with a CD/DVD drive. Yet CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs remain among the most commonly used media types. External optical burners bridge the gap, providing both creation and playback capabilities.

Other computer peripherals that might appeal to small businesses include:

  • Storage walletsWallets are a great way to organize groups of CDs or DVDs.
  • Fire safes. Backups stored on a shelf are vulnerable to fire and water damage, not to mention theft or extreme weather conditions! For companies that back up their data but prefer to keep those backups on site, fire safes are a must.

Archiving the past for the future

When it comes to different data storage solutions and backup options, your customers have lots of options. Petra carries a wide assortment of products from name-brand vendors like Verbatim, Philips, HP, Sony, Maxell, Gigastone and Hyundai. So be sure to check out the great selection of media in the Computer Peripherals and Home Office category at petra.com!

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