Common Types of Storage

In the previous section, we talked about what secondary storage is, but common types of storage can be grouped in a number of different ways.

memory stick in laptop port - common types of storage

We know that memory is always internal to the computer, but storage can be either internal or external.

There is a need to have internal storage for the computer, however having the ability to remove storage easily from the system makes it easier to transport and backup data.

When looking at internal and external storage, we can compare examples by looking at their purpose. For example:

A hard disk drive is internal storage – its purpose is to store programs and data that are used on the computer system including the operating system whilst the system is shut down. If this was external, it would need to be reconnected and identified every time the system was booted up.

A memory stick is external storage – its purpose is to store files and programs and transport them to other computer systems. Because of this, it is light and durable.

Consider the following different types of secondary storage. What purpose might they be used for? Are they internal or external? (hover over the images for the answer)

USB Memory Stick

USB Memory Stick

External Storage

USB sticks are generally used to transport smaller files between devices or locations. Although they are portable, this makes them they are easy to lose, they are not suitable for backups
Hard Disk Drive

Hard Disk Drive

Internal Storage

HDDs are internal to the computer system as they are used to store the programs and files that are not currently in use.
External HDDs are now rare having been replaced by SSDs.
floppy disk

Floppy Disk

External Storage

These are rarely used now due to their very small capacity. Flopp disks were used in the same way that USB memory sticks and CDs are used today to transfer files between devices.
CD Disc

CDs & DVDs

External Storage

CDs and DVDs are external storage that are cheap to purchase, so are used to distribute files on a physical format such as music, films, or games.

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