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What are storage devices? definition, types, examples

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Storage device of a Computer: The storage device of a computer is an important part which works to store data and files in the computer system. This device permanently stores all the data used by the user, such as applications, files, photographs, and videos. Without it, the computer's files and data can become unsafe and lost. This article provides detailed information on these devices.

Computer systems and their components

A computer is an electronic device designed to simplify human tasks by taking instructions from the user through input devices, processing them using processing units, and producing results using output devices. The main components of a computer are as follows.

  • Central Processing Unit (CPU): It is the brain of the computer that processes data and performs specified tasks.
  • Random Access Memory (RAM): It is extremely fast technical memory available in the computer to easily access data and instructions.
  • Storage Device: These store data permanently, such as hard disk drives, solid state drives, and optical disk drives.
  • input device: These are used by users to enter data into the computer, such as keyboard, mouse, scanner, and microphone.
  • Output Device: These are used to display the results of computer processing, such as on monitors, printers, and speakers.
  • Software: Software is used to process data, applications, and tasks, and operates with computers. It is of two types: system software and application software.

What are computer storage devices?

The storage device of a computer is an important part which works to store data and files in the computer system. A storage device is a hardware used to store, port, or retrieve data files. Storage device is an integral part of computer hardware that stores information/data to process the result of any computational task. Without storage devices, a computer would not be able to run or even boot.

Types of Computer Storage Devices

For any computing device, storage device is one of the essential components which is available in many structures and sizes depending on the specifications and functionality. The different types of computer storage are as follows:

  • primary storage device
  • magnetic storage device
  • flash memory device
  • optical storage device
  • Cloud and Virtual Storage

primary storage device

These are devices that store data temporarily and are directly accessible by the CPU. These include RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read Only Memory). RAM is volatile, which means it loses its data when the power is cut, while ROM is non-volatile, which means it retains its data even when the power is cut. RAM is used to store information that is currently being processed by the computer, while ROM is used to store firmware and the basic instructions for booting the computer.

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RAM (Random Access Memory)

This stands for Random Access Memory. It is used to store information that is used immediately or we can say that it is a temporary memory. Computers bring software installed on the hard disk into RAM to be processed and used by the user. Once, the computer is turned off, the data is deleted. With the help of RAM, computers can perform many tasks like loading applications, browsing the web, editing spreadsheets, experiencing the latest games, etc. There are different types of RAM, which are as follows:

  1. SRAM: This stands for Static Random Access Memory. It contains circuits that retain stored information as long as the power supply is on. This is also known as volatile memory. It is used to create cache memory. SRAM has less access time and is much faster than DRAM but in terms of cost it is expensive than DRAM.
  2. DRAM: This stands for Dynamic Random Access Memory. It is used to store binary bits as electrical charges which are applied to capacitors. The access time of DRAM is slower than SRAM but it is cheaper than SRAM and has higher packaging density.
  3. SDRAM: It stands for Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. It is faster than DRAM. It is widely used in computers and others. After SDRAM was introduced, advanced versions of double data rate RAM, i.e., DDR1, DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 entered the market and were widely used in home/office desktops and laptops.

ROM (Read Only Memory)

This is for read only memory. Data written or stored in these devices is non-volatile, that is, once the data is stored in memory it cannot be modified or deleted. Memory from which can only be read but not written. This type of memory is volatile. Information is stored permanently only once during creation. ROM stores the instructions that are used to start the computer. There are two types of ROM:

  1. PROM: PROM is Programmable Read-Only Memory. These are ROMs that can be programmed. A special PROM programmer is employed to enter the program on the PROM. Once the chip is programmed, the information on the PROM cannot be changed. PROM is volatile, meaning data is not lost when power is cut.
  2. EPROM: Another type of memory is erasable programmable read-only memory. It is possible to erase information already stored on the EPROM and write new data onto the chip.
  3. EEPROM: EEPROM is electrically erasable programmable read-only memory. Here, data can be erased using only an electric field, without using ultraviolet light.

magnetic storage device

Magnetic storage device is a type of storage device that stores data magnetically. It holds data so users can read or write it. Magnetic storage devices are used for data storage in various electronic devices, such as computers, laptops, digital cameras, and other devices. Some examples of magnetic storage devices are:

  1. Hard Disk Drive (HDD): A hard disk drive consists of one or more rigid metal plates coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. The platters rotate at high speed and are accessed by read/write heads attached to an arm that rotate over the surface of the platter.
  2. floppy disk: Floppy disk is also known as floppy diskette. It is commonly used to store data externally on personal computers. A floppy disk is made of a plastic cartridge and protected by a protective case. Nowadays floppy disks have been replaced by new and effective storage devices like USB etc.
  3. magnetic tape: Magnetic tape is a long strip of plastic film coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. The tape is wound onto a spool and carried behind the read/write head.
  4. Tape Cassette: It is also known as music cassette. It is a rectangular flat container in which data is stored on an analog magnetic tape. It is generally used to store audio recordings.
  5. Magnetic Card: Magnetic cards are a type of magnetic storage device that uses thin, flexible cards coated with a magnetic material.

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flash memory device

Flash memory devices are widely used in various electronic devices, such as mobile phones, PCs, laptops, digital cameras, smart TVs, USB drives, memory cards, memory sticks and SD cards. Flash memory device is a type of non-volatile memory that can store data even when the power is off. Flash memory devices use electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) technology. Some commonly used flash memory devices are:

  1. SD Card: This is known as a secure digital card. It is commonly used with electronic devices such as phones, digital cameras, etc. to store large data. It is portable and the size of the SD card is also small so that it can easily fit in electronic devices. It is available in different sizes like 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, etc.
  2. memory card: It is commonly used in digital cameras. Printer, game console etc. It is also used to store large amounts of data and is available in different sizes. You need a separate memory card reader to play memory cards on a computer.
  3. Multimedia Card: It is also known as MMC. It is an integrated circuit commonly used in car radios, digital cameras, etc. It is an external device for storing data/information.
  4. pen drive: It is also known as USB flash drive which consists of flash memory with integrated USB interface. We can connect these devices directly to our computers and laptops and read/write data in them in a much faster and more efficient manner. It generally ranges from 1GB to 256GB.

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optical storage device

Optical storage device is also a secondary storage device. This is a removable storage device. Following are some optical storage devices:

  1. CD: It is known as compact disc. It contains tracks and sectors on its surface to store data. It is made of polycarbonate plastic and is circular in shape. CD can store up to 700MB of data. These are of two types: CD-R and CD-RW.
  2. DVD: This is known as Digital Versatile Disc. DVDs are circular flat optical discs that are used to store data. It comes in two different sizes one is a 4.7GB single-layer disc and the other is a 8.5GB double-layer disc. DVD looks like CD but the storage capacity of DVD is more than that of CD. These are of two types: DVD-R and DVD-RW.
  3. Blu-ray Disc: It is similar to CD and DVD but Blu-ray has a storage capacity of up to 25GB. You need a separate Blu-ray reader to play Blu-ray discs.

Cloud and Virtual Storage

Nowadays, secondary memory has been upgraded to virtual or cloud storage devices. We can store our files and other stuff in the cloud and the data remains stored as long as we pay for the cloud storage. There are many companies that provide cloud services mainly Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc. The term cloud computing refers to data centers available to users on the Internet where they can collect their databases and files. It provides users with reliability, durability, privacy and access to data or information from anywhere and anytime.

The characteristics of a computer storage device may vary depending on its type and use. Here are some key features:

  • Capacity: The capacity of a storage device refers to its ability to store data. Some devices have fewer, such as USB flash drives, and some more, such as external hard drives.
  • Type: Storage devices come in different types, such as magnetic, SD cards, hard drives, etc. Each type of device has its own benefits.
  • motion: Some storage devices help store and access data with greater speed, such as SSD, while some can be slower, such as magnetic hard drives.
  • Security: To keep data secure, some storage devices are encrypted, preventing unauthorized access.
  • Compatibility: Storage devices must be compatible with computers or other devices, allowing users to easily store and access data.
  • price: Different storage devices have different prices, depending on the user's needs and budget.
  • Portability: Some storage devices are portable, which can be easily carried, while some other storage devices are not very portable due to their size and weight.

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