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Monthly Archive July 2017

Which Storage is Right for You

It was not long ago when the choice of what storage tech was right for your needs meant purchasing the one that had the most capacity. However, with the development of different types of hybrid and solid-state drives, you will need to know a little more about which may work best for you. What follows is a list of common storage drives, their advantages and potential drawbacks that will help you decide the one that is well suited for your needs.
Solid State Drives
Like hard drives on some levels, the biggest difference is that they use NAND flash memory and not magnetic platters or heads. With no moving parts, solid state drives perform at a higher rate of speed and access data far more quickly. In fact, they operate at more than double the speed of hard disks. Because they are solid-state, they are far more durable and resilient to damage which means that drops, bumps, and scrapes have little effect.
However, they are far more expensive compared to hard drives and do not have the capacity of their counterparts either. Unlike hard drives that give off warnings of imminent failure, solid state drives tend to go without any warning. Also, the fuller the drive gets, the more it slows down, but that is a relatively minor issue.
Hard Drive
Or, hard-disk drives, these are the most common type of storage system for PCs. Although the technology has evolved considerably over the decades, the basic principles of storage remain the same. Much like an old-fashioned record, the disk rotates on a magnetic surface with heads that both record and retrieve the data. Hard drives offer plenty of room, are simple in their construction and are inexpensive.
However, because they have moving parts, they are not as reliable or perform as well as drives which are solid-state or hybrids. While their reading and writing speed are good, they are nowhere near what solid state drives can do. So, if you need a lot of storage for a little money and do not care much for speed, then hard drives are for you.
Hybrids
This is a combination of solid state and hard disk drives that carry all the advantages and disadvantages of each. Because their inherent strengths complement each other, each system works well together. The data that is used the most often is stored on the solid-state drives while the hard drive keeps older files intact. The overall price is slightly higher than hard drives, but the performance is boosted as well.
Of course, they carry all the disadvantages of both drives as well. This means that impacts will affect the hard drive portion and the storage capacity of the solid state is still limited. However, you can custom design hybrid systems to carry what you need so that it can be stored and accessed more readily.
It can get a little pricey unless you know exactly what you want and are willing to live with the consequences, so be sure to look over the advantage of each type of drive and match them to your needs.

Future of Storage

The future of storage systems for data, at least for the next few years, will come down to either flash or hard drive systems. Each has its advantages, although flash systems are more popular and less expensive even if they are not as reliable in the long term. Which type of storage you choose will depend considerably on your needs.
Flash
Since flash systems are still the most popular, much of the innovation that is taking place is with this type of storage system. The use of 3D NAND technology has allowed flash drives to expand their storage considerably and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Another innovation is the Triple-Level Cell (TLC) which allows the storage cells to hold a range of voltages which increases the amount of information that can be stored. The layering of cells essentially doubles the capacity all in the same space for greater efficiency and a reduction of issues such as the read costs. While the physics associated with TLC are considerable, the potential is amazing in terms of just how much can be stored on a flash drive.
Errors are being reduced using Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) which means the encoded data is cleaner, more accurate, and easier to read all with fewer errors. Although LDPC was invented in the 1960s, the technology is finding new light thanks to innovation which has led to engineering challenges that have been overcome.
Hard Disks
Considering that amount of storage that is now available, the cost has been reduced considerably to help make this form of storage even more appealing. You can now purchase hard disks that have 6TB storage and above for a reasonable cost. Of course, the question becomes do you need 6TBs of storage for what you do.
Using Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) which allows the tracks to lap over each other without interference, more data can be stored in less physical space. If successful, it will lead to the Two-Dimensional Magnetic Recording (DMR) process that eliminates the noise from tracks next to each other for better recording. Another technique being developed is the Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) in which the tracks themselves are heated up before data recording so that more information can be stored.
In addition, helium is being used to increase the overall capacity of the drives because it allows them to be placed closer together.
Future
Currently, there are no major storage systems apart from flash or hard disk that are being seriously developed in the foreseeable future. Naturally, it is safe to assume that some other type of storage system will be developed that overcomes the inherent limitations found in flash or hard disk so that even more information can be stored and retrieved.
The advantages of both systems are found in their reliability and decades of development which have managed to make the most out of technological advances. This means that if you are planning to store a considerable amount of data, you will need to examine both flash and hard disk so that you fully understand their limitations and potential.