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Fast Guide to Storage Technologies

This printable page provides a fast guide in table form to storage technologies. To the extent that some technologies depend on other technologies (for example, a storage area network depends on either Fibre Channel or iSCSI for its connection protocol), there is a certain amount of redundancy among some table entries.

 Object Storage  -- Click here to learn more about this emerging storage technology
 

Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Compact disc, recordable
( CD-R ) or rewritable ( CD-RW ) and DVD
  • Low cost per megabyte
  • Unlimited capacity with multiple discs
  • Portable
  • Widely-supported I/O interfaces
  • Can be formatted for different data formats
  • Long life
  • High data density
  • Immune to corruption once data is written (CD-R and DVD only)
  • Limited capacity on one disc(though much greater than diskette)
  • Slow to moderate read/write speed
  • Data archiving
  • Data distribution
  • Data migration
  • Localized file sharing
  • Offsite storage
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Diskettes, 1.44 MB
  • Simple to use
  • Portable
  • Can be formatted for different data formats
  • Limited capacity
  • Limited read/write speed
  • Not supported by many newer computers
  • Local data transfer of small files
  • Storage of small files or programs
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Hard drive, external
  • High read/write speed
  • Can be moved among computers
  • Limited capacity
  • Awkward for data transfer among multiple computers
  • Local backup
  • Local archiving
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Hard drive, internal
  • Convenient; usually comes with the computer
  • High read/write speed
  • Convenient for use with single computer (but can be shared among multiple computers with proper support
  • Most common form of data storage
  • Limited capacity
  • Without special support, confined to a single computer or server
  • Storage in a single computer
  • Swap files
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Removable storage
(ZIP disks, JAZ disks, etc.)
  • Simplicity
  • Portability
  • Unlimited capacity with multiple disks
  • Convenient for use with single computer
  • Proprietary media
  • Limited read/write speed
  • High cost per megabyte
  • Personal computing
  • Local data transfer of small files
  • Local backup
  • Local archiving
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Solid-state storage
(USB devices, flash memory, smart cards, etc.)
  • No mechanical parts
  • High read/write speed
  • Small form factor
  • Limited storage capacity
  • High cost per I/O operation
  • Swap files
  • Local data transfer
  • Internet service providers
  • Video processing
  • Relational databases
  • High-speed data acquisition
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Direct-attached storage
(DAS)
  • Simplicity
  • Low initial cost
  • Ease of management
  • Storage for each server must be administered separately
  • Inconvenient for data transfer in network environments
  • Server bears load of processing applications
  • Data and application sharing
  • Data backup
  • Data archiving
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Disk library
  • High speed
  • High storage capacity
  • High data availability
  • Not as quickly accessible as DAS; intended for "write once, read rarely" data
  • Disk-to-disk (D2D) backup
  • Data archiving
  • Near line storage
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Disk-to-disk-to-tape
( D2D2T )
  • Redundancy
  • High read/write speed
  • Unlimited capacity with multiple tapes
  • Complexity
  • Incremental backups
  • Storage virtualization
  • Offsite storage
  • Data archiving
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Fibre Channel
(See Storage area network below)
  • Used to transmit data between devices at gigabit speeds
  • Frequently used in storage area networks (SANs)
  • Flexible in terms of distance
  • High cost
  • Management complexity
  • Large databases
  • Bandwidth-intensive applications
  • Storage area networks (SANs)
  • Offsite storage
  • Mission-critical applications
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

iSCSI
(See Storage area network below)
  • Used to transmit data between devices using the Internet Protocol (IP)
  • Frequently used in storage area networks (SANs)
  • More flexible in terms of distance than Fibre Channel (but not as fast)
  • May not compare favorably with Fibre Channel for large database transfers
  • Management complexity
  • Applications involving remotely distributed databases
  • Storage area networks (SANs)
  • Offsite storage
  • Mission-critical applications
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Magnetic tape
  • Low cost per megabyte
  • Portability
  • Unlimited capacity with multiple tapes
  • Inconvenient for quick recovery of individual files or groups of files
  • Data archiving
  • Limited-budget businesses
  • Offsite storage
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Network-attached storage
(NAS)
  • Fast file access for multiple clients
  • Ease of data sharing
  • High storage capacity
  • Redundancy
  • Ease of drive mirroring
  • Consolidation of resources
  • Less convenient than storage area network (SAN) for moving large blocks of data
  • Data backup
  • Data archiving
  • Redundant storage
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Redundant array of independent disks
(RAID)
  • High speed
  • High storage capacity
  • High data availability
  • High reliability
  • Security
  • Fault tolerance
  • Users may develop false sense of security
  • Recovery from failure is difficult in some systems
  • High cost for optimum systems
  • Swap files
  • Internet service providers
  • Redundant storage
Technology

Advantages

Limitations

Applications

Storage area network
(SAN)
  • Excellent for moving large blocks of data
  • Exceptional reliability
  • Wide availability
  • Fault tolerance
  • Scalability
  • High cost
  • Lack of standardization
  • Management complexity
  • Large databases
  • Bandwidth-intensive applications
  • Mission-critical applications

 

Read more about it at:
> SearchStorage.com provides a "Learning Guide: SAN."
> SearchStorage.com also provides a "Storage University."
> "Fast Guide to RAM" provides a quick guide to the various RAM technologies.
This was last updated in February 2010

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