Punch tape as a form of storage in Colossus

Punch tape used as a form of storage, used, in Colossus the world’s first programmable, electronic, digital computer. Photo by Kevin /CC BY 2.0

This is the introductory post in a four part series that will cover the in-built personal computer options for storage.

It may not be immediately obvious, but your computer is continuously reading and writing from its in-built storage, for example:

  • When started due to loading the operating system;
  • When browsing websites due to temporary Internet files;
  • When using email with offline access;
  • When a document or file is saved, including auto saves;
  • When backing up your computer; and,
  • When automatic updates occur to software such as antivirus.

In all the above cases, insufficient storage capacity, or insufficient storage speed, results in a sluggish computer. This can have significant impact on user productivity, and as such understanding the storage considerations is very important.

The series will cover the below topics;

The summary version of the complete series is as follows:

  • Insufficient storage capacity, or insufficient storage speed, results in a sluggish computer. This can have significant impact on user productivity, and as such understanding the storage considerations is very important.
  • Selecting the in-built storage for a computer is best taken in context of the various computer storage options available: locally attached storage; onsite attached storage; offsite storage; and, detached storage.
  • When specifically considering in-built storage for a personal computer, there are four general types of storage: Hard Disk Drive (HDD); Solid State Drive (SSD); embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC); and, “raw” flash. Each have pros and cons.
  • Smartphones and tablets will typically be eMMC or “raw” flash.  For a laptop or desktop computer, SSD costs about double the price of HDD, but the performance increase is significant especially if coupled with a PCIe interface instead of a SATA interface.
  • Due to network speed limitations, HDD storage is usually sufficient for external storage that is local or offsite.
    Buy more computer storage than you need, as the amount of free storage also impacts storage speed. Also, understand if the storage can be increased, and if not, definitely buy more storage than you need.
  • The type of data you are storing will define if you need to consider options to guard against theft, loss or damage. Indeed, there may even be regulatory requirements on how you store certain information, for example health or financial records. As such, understand your storage security needs; backup and recovery, replication, and encryption.

For further information click the links to each series topic provided earlier, or if not yet available, consider subscribing to the blog updates, or follow me on twitter, @dbaffle