With the emergence of cloud computing, businesses are storing more and more information online through services like Apple's iCloud, Dropbox, and Microsoft's SkyDrive. There are still plenty of removable storage devices around, though, and they are still useful, particularly as backups to information you have on your computer's hard drive or in your online space. Such devices include USB drives, memory cards and external hard drives.
Also known as "pen drives," "thumb drives" or "flash drives," these are identifiable by the rectangular metal connector that you insert into your computer. Like other removable storage devices, USB drives are used to transport your files from one place to another. You may, for example, be working on a report at the office that you want to finish at home. Moving a copy of the report onto a flash drive is one way to carry the report home with you.
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Memory cards, also called "memory sticks" or "SD cards," connect to the computer via a special slot. Not every computer has these slots, but adapters are available that allow you to read a memory card via a USB port. Memory cards are used in MP3 players and other portable gadgets like the Canon PowerShot digital camera. You may have sent an employee around town to photograph possible new locations for your business, for instance. Popping the SD card out of her camera and into your computer is a fast way to access her photos.
Handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S-4 also have SD cards for storage and can connect to your computer with a USB cable like the T-Mobile universal charge cable. Such a cable may have come packaged with your phone, and will also charge your phone while it's connected to the computer. You might travel confidently to meet with a new client, having uploaded your presentation to your cloud space -- but if you aren't able to connect to your online storage at the meeting, you'll be glad you also put a copy on your smartphone.
External Hard Drives
An external hard drive is like the drive inside your computer, but it comes in a protective case and connects to your computer via a USB cable. You can back up your company information on it and then put it somewhere secure, like a safe deposit box, to be retrieved periodically and updated. If there's a natural disaster or a break-in, or if your computer crashes irreparably, you can copy your files from the external drive onto a new computer and be back in business.
Other devices you may see include CDs, DVDs, and diskettes, but these are becoming obsolete. Modern computers don't have the drive you need to use a floppy diskette, although you can buy a special external drive if you need one, like the Sabrent external floppy disk drive. Similarly, optical devices like CDs and DVDs are falling out of use because USB drives and SD cards are faster, smaller and more durable. Some computers today even come without a drive for optical discs, such as the Acer Aspire and the MacBook Air.
- PC World: From Paper Tape to Data Sticks: The Evolution of Removable Storage
- PC World: Prepare Your Business for Digital Disaster
- PC World: How to Access Your Old 3.5-Inch Floppy Disks
- Iogear: 50-in-1 Portable Card Reader
- Canon: PowerShot A2500 Digital Camera
- Samsung: Explore Galaxy Smartphone, Features and Accessories
- T-Mobile: Universal Charge Cable
- Sabrent: 1.44MB External USB 2x Floppy Disk Drive
- Acer: Aspire S7-391-9492