A History of Storage From the stone age, mankind has tried to find a way to store information for the following generations. When people nowadays hear the word storage or computer storage they normally think about CD Rom, USB thumb drive or DVD. Things like the floppy disk or the punch card are nearly forgotten, but in fact, the history of information storage goes back to around 40,000 BC where mankind used red and yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal to paint information about their life on rock walls, caves and ceilings. In Ancient Egypt Papyrus, which is an early form of paper, was used to store information. It remained in use until about 800 AD, when it was replaced by cheaper paper. Before then, however, the use of parchment and vellum had replaced papyrus in many areas as they are much more durable. Today, experts estimate that there is 2.7 zetabytes (that’s 2.7 followed by 17 zeros) of data in the digital universe. That’s equivalent to 1 billion blue ray discs. We generate about 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day (2.5 followed by 14 zeros) and that’s only going up, so data storage needs to be big and cheap. The following is a brief history of computer storage devices and systems. There have been others but these are the main ones. 1890 Punch Cards:   Punch cards predate electrical computers. They were first used in 1725 in the textile industry to control mechanized textile looms, but then Herman Hollerith used them in the 1890s for the census calculation of the rapidly growing US population. A punch card was a thick sheet of paper with holes punched through it in patterns that could then be interpreted. Later they were incorporated as an input device to computer systems and were around as late as the mid-1970s. They were still analogue and had to be sorted to be of use. 1932 Magnetic Drum Memory:   Even though it was invented in the 1930' in Austria by Gustav Tauschek, it was still widely used in the 1950s and 1960s as the main working memory of computers. In fact, that was so common that it helped coin the nickname for computers of the time – drum machines. In the 1950s its capacity was about 10kB. Digital but very cumbersome 1950 Paper Tape:   Following the tradition of punch cards, paper tape consisted of a long strip of paper where holes were punched at various locations to represent the data. It was still used in the 1960s as the main input for the DEC computers which were analogue. 1959 Magnetic Tape:   After the paper came magnetic tape, still analogue, which worked in the same manner but was able to store more information. It was stored in a roll and read/written to by a read/write head. This is one of the oldest technologies for electronic data storage. Believe it or not, a magnetic tape is still used around the world today for storing media! It's great for archiving because of its high capacity, low cost, and long durability. 1956 First Hard Dive (HDD):   The first hard disk drive to see the light of day was the IBM Model 350 Disk File that came with the IBM 305 RAMAC computer in 1956. It had 50 24-inch discs with a total storage capacity of 5 million alphanumeric characters, which totals to about 5 MB. Fun fact: the IBM 305 RAMAC computer weighed over a ton! The modern digital method of storage had finally arrived. 1953 Cassette Tape:   The first compact audio cassette was introduced by Philips. They originally intended to use it for dictation machines, but it unexpectedly became popular for distributing music. The invention of Sony's Walkman in 1979 helped popularize it even further. The compact cassette was also a popular way of data storage for personal computers in the late 70s and 80s. Typical data rates for it were 2,000 bit/s. You could fit about 660 kB per side on a 90-minute tape. 1971 Floppy Disc:   The invention of the floppy disk started in IBM as an alternative to buying hard drives, which was very expensive at the time. The result was the first, 8-inch floppy disk in 1971. It had a capacity of 79,7 kB and was read-only. The rewritable version followed a year later. This portable storage device made of magnetic film encased in plastic, made storing data it easier and faster. It later came in 5,25 and 3,5-inch formats and was commonly used way into the 1990s. 1982 CD-ROM:   The history of the compact disc goes back into 1960 when James T. Russel thought of using light to record and replay music. He invented the optical digital television recording and playback television in 1970. The invention was a flop until representatives visited Russel at his lab in 1975. They paid him to develop the compact disc (CD). In 1982 the first commercial CD was produced - it was a recording from 1979 of Claudio Arrau performing Chopin waltzes. The CD-ROM, also known as the Compact Disk Read-Only Memory, used the same physical format as the audio compact disks to store digital data. It encodes tiny pits of digital data into the lower surface of the plastic disc, which allows for larger amounts of data to be stored. In 1990 the first recordable CDs were introduced. 1995 DVD:   DVD or Digital Video Disc was the next generation of digital disc storage. It was a bigger and faster alternative to the compact disc and served to store multimedia data. It was developed by Panasonic, Philips, Sony, and Toshiba after a so-called format war. The first DVDs were available in Japan. 1999 SD Memory Card: The first SD cards held around 64MB, enough to hold 50 photos or 13 minutes of low-resolution video which is around 1/11 of a CD. The highest capacity of an SD card today is 1 terabyte.  The Secure Digital standard was a joint development by SanDisk, Panasonic, and Toshiba in 1999. This technology built on previous iterations, such as the MultiMediaCard (MMC). SD cards use flash memory, which stores data in cells made of floating-gate transistors. 2000 USB Flash Drive:  The drive of many names. It is colloquially known as a thumb drive, pen drive, jump drive, disk key, disk on key, flash-drive, or a memory stick. The first flash drive developed held 8MB, so one or two eBooks, 90 seconds of low-resolution video or 800 .doc files. The world’s largest USB Flash Drive today has a 2 terabyte capacity. M-Systems, an Israeli company, developed the USB Flash Drive in 1999. Similar to SD cards, USB flash drives use flash memory. USB flash drives became popular as portable storage devices due to the convenience of plugging them into a computer’s USB port for data transfer. Next time you spend a few dollars for a cheap USB thumb drive, spare a thought for the amazing technology inside 2003 Cloud Storage:  Amazon Web Services is generally considered to be the first commercially available viable cloud storage. Cloud storage involves stashing data on hardware in a remote physical location, which can be accessed from any device via the internet. Clients send files to a data server maintained by a cloud provider instead of (or as well as) storing it on their own hard drives. What Storage System Should I be Using? As far as your PC goes, you should install the operating system and programs on the fastest drive you can. For newer computers this means an M.2 drive which is an SSD that is mounted directly onto the motherboard. For older computers, you can change out your old HDD for a newer SSD for a reasonable cost. You can pick up a 1TB SSD for around $140. You’ll need a SATA connection so very old computers that only have IDE are unable to use them. If you have one of these computers it’s time you got rid of it and upgraded! Hard drives are the most economical way of storing large amounts of data such as video files long-term, but until the editing is done, it’s best to keep the files on an SSD for faster data transfer. There are 2 kinds of HDD, the 3.5in form which generally run at 7200rpm or 2.5in form than run at 5400rpm. The faster the speed the faster the access. A 2TB 2.5in HDD costs around $98. The smaller drives are usually used in laptops. They can be external or internal, and internal drives can be used externally with a docking station, which can accommodate both 2.5in and 3.5in HDD as well as SD and USB. I prefer the larger size due to faster data transfer and usually larger buffer size. SD Cards:  Secure Digital cards, or shortly “SD cards” were jointly developed by SanDisk, Panasonic and Toshiba and introduced in 1999 for use in portable devices. The three companies later formed the SD Card Association to create, promote and enforce SD card standards across the industry. SD cards quickly became an industry standard. However, due to file system (FAT16 – File Allocation Table) and other limitations, SD cards could only hold up to 2 GB of data maximum, so new standards had to be developed in order to allow larger capacity memory cards. Today, the original SD cards have been fully discontinued and they have been replaced by the newer-generation SDHC and SDXC cards. SDHC Cards: In January of 2006, a new standard was developed that not only increased card capacity to up to 32 GB in size, but also doubled the performance of the cards, allowing much faster read and write speeds. This standard was named “Secure Digital High Capacity”, indicating the increased capacity of these cards. Unfortunately, older SD card readers in cameras and computers were not compatible with SDHC cards, until their firmware was updated to be able to support the new card standard, whereas SDHC memory card readers were backwards compatible to be able to read both SD and SDHC memory cards. SDHC cards are fairly common to find on the market, although they might soon be phased out by the larger SDXC cards. With a maximum capacity of 32 GB (mostly imposed by the limited FAT32 file system) and newer devices pushing a lot more data, especially when capturing high bitrate video, it was time to move up to a new and improved standard and that’s how Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) was born. Maximum card size was increased to theoretical 2 TB maximum (2048 GB) and the file system was switched to exFAT, developed by Microsoft. The newest SDXC standards are very robust, allowing fast transfer speeds of up to 624 MB/sec using UHS-III bus. If you need SD memory card capacities above 32 GB, SDXC is the only way to go. Whether you choose SDHC or SDXC does not matter – the bus speed (UHS-I, UHS-II, UHS-III) and the rated memory card speeds for both read and write operations are going to be more important. SDXC  Cards:  What do all the numbers mean? 1   Maximum Read Speed – This is the maximum sequential read speed the memory card is capable of in Mega Bytes per second (MB/sec). Please note that write speeds are rarely ever published on memory cards and you will need to find that information in memory card manual or listed specifications. In this case, the maximum read speed of the SD card is 300 MB/sec. 2   Type of SD Memory Card – You should also be able to locate the proprietary SD card logos on memory card labels that indicate whether the card is of SD, SDHC or SDXC type. In this particular case, it is an SDXC memory card. 3   UHS Bus Speed – UHS (Ultra High Speed) bus speed (Circuit that connects one part of a Motherboard to another) is also often published directly on memory card labels. If it is a UHS-I card, you will just see roman numeral one (I), whereas if it is a UHS-II card, you will see roman numeral two (II), as in the case of the above card.4. Non-UHS cards max out at 25 MB/s, while UHS-I cards support up to 104 MB/s, and UHS-II cards support up to 312 MB/s. Both the card reader and card must support the same standard to benefit from the increased speeds 4   SD Speed Class – This number indicates what SD Speed Class card it is, per table above. As in the above case, all modern SD cards should be rated at 10 minimum, which guarantees minimum sequential write speed of 10 MB/sec. 5   UHS Speed Class – Aside from UHS bus speed, you will also typically find a UHS speed class label. In this particular example, I can see that the card is rated at minimum 30 MB/sec write speed, thanks to this U3 label. 6   Memory Card Capacity – The capacity of the memory card is typically displayed in large numbers. As can be seen here, this memory card has a total capacity of 128 GB Mini SD and Micro SD:   mini and micro SD memory cards were born due to SD cards being too big for mobile phones. Initially developed by SanDisk, microSD was later on embraced and standardized by the SD Card Association, which announced the form factor in 2005. The initial microSD memory cards were slow and their capacities were limited to 2 GB due to the FAT16 file system, just like SD cards. However, the SD Card Association was quick to release the next generation SDHC cards that lifted those limits. And with the introduction of SDXC that took advantage of the exFAT file system, it became possible to make cards larger than 32 GB in size, with much faster read and write speeds. microSD cards quickly gained popularity among portable device manufacturers for their small size – at just 11.0 (W) x 15.0 (L) x 1.0mm (H), these cards are the smallest memory cards available on the market today and they have been embraced by many mobile phone and tablet manufacturers. Believe it or not, there is now a 1TB Micro SDXC card available. It costs around $700. USB Flash Drive: USB flash drive also called a thumb drive, jump drive, pen drive and USB memory stick is a device that can be used to save information on a tiny flash memory chip. Users can read and save data on it. These storage devices have been designed to be smaller than a typical storage disk, with some being the size of a thumb. That is why some people know them as pen drives, while others prefer to call them "thumb drives". Whatever the name, they all share one important characteristic, they can be hooked up to any computer. Thanks to their universal serial bus (USB) port compatibility. The USB port is used to create the interaction between a flash drive with your computer. To meet different needs, there are different types of USB flash drives based on the ports, respectively USB 2.0 flash drive, USB 3.0 flash drive, USB 3.1 flash drive, and 3.2 drive. The biggest difference between them is the price and speed. But the price varies due to the storage capacity, brands, and many other factors. We will mainly talk about the difference in speed here. USB 2.0 flash drive This is the standard memory stick. The transfer rate of the USB 2.0 interface can only reach up to 60 MB/sec and is commonly used on many computers. Even if you transfer data with a USB 3.0 thumb drive, the speed will be limited to the computer 2.0 port. USB 3.0 flash drives USB 3.0 flash drive is much faster than USB 2.0 in the same condition. USB 3.0 flash drive can deal with data at the speed of 625 MB/sec. Due to its fast speed in writing, reading, and transferring data, the USB 3.0 thumb drive becomes a more popular choice for most flash memory stick users. USB 3.1 and 3.2 ports The latest and fastest ones in the world of the thumb drive today, with the write-and-read speed of up to 1250 MB/sec and 2500 MB/sec, respectively. Five Effective Methods to Speed up USB Transfer in Windows 10/8/7 1. Update Driver:  Open Device Manager Expand Disc Drives Right click on the USB drive and choose “update driver” Search for updated driver automatically 2. Set USB Drive for Better Performance: Open Device Manager Find USB drive and right click to choose “Properties” Go to “Policies” tab, click “better performance” to enable write caching 3. Change the File System By default, the USB drive comes with FAT32 file system Reformat it to NTFS for Windows or exFAT for Mac 4. Upgrade to USB 3.0 If your USB drive uses USB 2.0, change to USB3 port if you have one USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than USB 2.0 If your computer doesn’t have one, install a USB 3.0 PCIe card 5. Connect the USB Drive to the Rear Port: If you are using the front port on your computer, change to a back port The back ports connect directly to the Motherboard Chipset. In Summary; The storage system you choose will depend on the application. If you want to keep data in perpetuity then you need the cloud or archival quality DVD’s. If you want to keep your movies, then good quality DVD’s are very good and if looked after will keep for decades or much longer. The only problem will be having something to play them in the future. This would also be a problem with archival quality DVDs. SD cards and Thumb Drives should only be used for data transfer or short term storage until it can be transferred to something more permanent. HDDs are fairly reliable but they are magnetic and can be affected by magnetic fields. They are also subject to mechanical failure. If you want to keep data long term on HDDs, then copy the data to another HDD every few years to avoid magnetic data loss. SSDs should not be used for long term storage over about 10 years. The biggest factor in SSD failure is age. Whatever method you chose for long term storage, remember that as technology improves, you may not be able to retrieve the data in future simply because readers are unavailable. Just ask anyone who kept important data stored on floppy discs. Therefore the best method of storing large amounts of data long term is probably cloud storage.