What is the Best Type of Storage Device for Data?

By John, published on Jan 16, 2021
2 years, 8 months ago | 3 min read

What is the Best Type of Storage Device for Data?

The digital age may have brought us new ways to create and store data, but it also created new ways to lose it. Irreplaceable documents, photos, personal information – no matter what you need to store, it’s critical that you know how to do it correctly and protect yourself with a backup storage device. Losing data can be devastating, and don’t be fooled into thinking you can rely on a professional to retrieve it: data recovery is often expensive and notoriously unreliable. It should be nothing more than a last resort. 

Thankfully, advances in consumer technology have given us access to a wide range of portable storage devices that make it easy to back up your most important data and protect yourself from unexpected disasters. Here, we’ll break down the different types of data storage available and the benefits of each.

Types of Physical Data Storage

Portable Hard Drive (HDD)

A portable hard drive is a straightforward storage device and is simply a smaller, transportable version of the hard drive inside your computer or laptop. The high capacity of hard drives makes them ideal for transferring large batches of data between computers, or as a long-term backup storage device for up to several terabytes of personal or company data. Not to be confused with an external hard drive which requires its own power source and is, therefore, less mobile, a portable hard drive simply plugs into any computer and can be easily tucked away when not in use.

Great for: Large backups and data transfers.

Benefits: Large storage capacity, more portable than external hard drives.

Keep in mind: Bulkier and heavier than USBs and SD cards; designed primarily for laptop and desktop computers. 

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USB Mass Storage Device

Also known as a thumb drive, flash drive or memory stick, the USB mass storage device has come a long way in the past decade. Plugging directly into laptops, desktop computers, and other devices with no need for a cable, the small size and low weight of a USB makes it an incredibly convenient option for data storage. USBs were historically limited by storage space, and while they still don’t hold as much as a portable hard drive, newer models can hold as much as 128 gigabytes while still being affordable. 

Great for: Travelling, small to medium-sized backups, quick file transfers.

Benefits: Fast, convenient and affordable. 

Keep in mind: Less storage space than portable hard drives.

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SD Card

Your third option for a portable storage device is an SD card. SD cards are wafer-thin memory cards that come in a range of formats and sizes. SD cards can store a surprising amount of data despite their compact design, which is why they are the preferred choice for most handheld electronics. Data from cameras, tablets, game consoles, music players, smartphones and other handheld devices can easily be stored on an SD card, along with files from some compatible laptops and computers. 

Great for: Handheld devices, photo backups. 

Benefits: Lightweight, highly portable.

Keep in mind: May need an adapter to connect to a laptop or desktop computer; easier to misplace given its small size. 

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