Computer Data Storage Options

"There are two types of computer users in the world; those who have lost data, and those that will."

This is a saying common in computer "techie" circles, because we find that once someone has lost data, they take the precautions not to have it happen again. We don't want you to be in the second group, either! So learn from the mistakes of others, save your data on a reliable source, and you will not suffer through having to recreate a file, grade book, etc.

We recommend that you store files on 1) the SAN Network storage, 2) a USB drive, or 3) CDs or DVDs. Below is further information on each type of data storage device/media available.

  • CDs come in two forms: R, and RW. Most recently purchased computers come with a CDRW device. With a CD-R disk, you can only write to it one time, and cannot change the files once they are written. CD-RW media allow you to add and rewrite files to it . Most hold 700MB of data, and are inexpensive. Some older computers have a CD drive that can only read a CD, and some can only create files on a CD-R, but all can read info off any data CD.

  • DVD-R and RWs are used like CD-R and RWs, except they hold 4GBs of data. A DVD "burner" (aka DVDRW drive) is needed to write on the storage media.

  • Flash Drives or Thumb Drives are the one of the newer forms of data storage, and will work on practically any computer with a USB port. They have no moving parts, so they are nearly incorruptible. They range in size from 32MB to 128GB, and possibly more. Most can attach to your key ring. These are choice for those "on the go."
  • Hard drives, such as the "C:drive," are the most popular form of data storage. Most PC based programs by default save files to your computer’s hard drive. Hard drives can fail at any time. That is why it is good to always back up your data on another form of media for safe keeping.
  • The Storage Area Network (SAN) drives are the best way to save data (often known as the J: drive or H: drive). At Ferris, you are given a set amount of space to save your data, but you can get more if needed. This data is saved to the SAN on the Network. A SAN is a system that has many hard drives set up in a way that if one fails, the data is still safe. In addition, the information is backed up on tape and stored off-site for years. This is the way we encourage and prefer that use for all of your important data storage. We also encourage you to keep at least 2 back ups of your important data.

Below is a summary of the advantages and disadvantages to the typical storage devices. In addition to this, you will find a graph showing the reliability of each device type.

Types of Storage Advantages Disadvantages
CD-R/RW Cheap, easily stored for mobility, 700MB Prone to scratching/data loss, must have burner to save, time consuming
DVD-R/RW 4GB, easily stored for mobility Prone to scratching/data loss, must have burner to save, time consuming
USB Limited data corruption, multiple sizes, USB ports Easy to lose
Hard Drive (internal) Multiple sizes, easy to use Not Mobile, possible data corruption
SAN Multiple backups Needs network connection to access