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What is Data Storage, and Why is it Important? 

Protecting your company’s and users’ important documents and files is one of the most integral parts of running a successful business. Luckily, an effective data storage solution can help protect your data from technological breakdowns and ensure complete data recovery if a major loss does indeed occur.

Data storage refers to the practice of saving your files and documents with the help of computers or data storage devices. An effective data storage solution protects your data and ensures that your information is both private and readily available, even if your system breaks down beyond repair. 

Data storage technologies and methods vary significantly, ranging from simple hard drive data storage to newer and more innovative ones, like cloud storage. Let’s look at what exactly data storage is and its different types, so you can choose a data storage option that best suits your needs.

What is Data Storage?  

External backup disk hard drive connected to laptop

Data storage basically refers to optical, mechanical, or magnetic media that records and stores digital information for future or ongoing use. It makes it incredibly easy to back up files and documents for safekeeping and allows you to recover data quickly in case of an unexpected cyberattack or breakdown. 

You can store data on physical USB drives, hard drives, and disk drives, or virtually on the cloud. No matter which device you use, all your files will be backed up and readily available in case your system crashes beyond repair.

However, before opting for a data storage solution, make sure you consider its reliability, security features, and the total cost of implementing and maintaining its infrastructure. 

How Does Data Storage Work?

It’s important to note that there are two fundamental foundations of data storage: the form of data being stored and the device that records and stores it.  

To put it simply, modern computers either connect to a data storage device directly or through a network. Once they establish a secure connection, they’re able to store and access data from these storage devices.

What Are Some Examples of Data Storage?

Regardless of the form of data, you need a storage device to store it. These devices can be divided into five categories: optical storage devices, cloud/online storage, paper storage, magnetic storage devices, and flash memory devices. 

Most of these devices allow you to record large amounts of data in a small physical space, making it incredibly easy to share that same information with others. Some of them are portable as well, so you can transfer data from one terminal or computer to another.

To better understand data storage, here are some of the most common examples of data storage devices:

  • Hard drive disk
  • Compact disc
  • USB flash drive
  • Blu-ray and DVD discs
  • Secure Digital (SD) card
  • Cloud storage
  • Solid-State Drive (SSD)

What Are the Different Types of Data Storage?

Data storage can be divided into two broad types: network-attached storage and direct-attached storage. There are several devices that fall into both of these categories. For now, let’s take a look at these two main types: 

Direct Attached Storage

Direct attached storage, or DAS, includes all storage devices that you need to physically connect to your computer. Generally, this storage is only accessible to a single machine, which can make sharing data between different machines a bit cumbersome.

Some of the most common direct-attached storage devices include: 

  • Hard drives 
  • CD/DVD drives
  • Solid-State Drives (SSD)
  • Flash drives

DAS solutions are ideal for local backups and are usually much more budget-friendly than network-attached (NAS) solutions.

Network Attached Storage

Network-attached storage (NAS) allows multiple terminals to share data storage through a network. This is achieved by setting up multiple hard drives in a RAID configuration, allowing you to improve collaboration and centralize data.

NAS solutions allow you to easily share data between connected machines, and you can even set permission levels to control access. And while they’re a bit more expensive than DAS solutions, they’re still very budget-friendly because of the continuous advancements in storage technology. 

Data Storage Devices

All data storage devices ensure reliable protection of all your important files and documents, but knowing the differences between each device can help you choose the solution that best suits your business’s needs. 

Flash and SSD Storage

Flash storage uses flash memory to record and store data. Similarly, a solid-state flash drive writes and records data with flash memory. 

Because a solid-state system doesn’t have any moving parts, there’s less latency, reducing the number of SSDs needed. Most modern solid-state drives are also flash-based, making flash storage synonymous with solid-state systems. 

Hybrid Storage

Although flash and SSD storage provide higher throughput than hard disk drives or HDDs, they’re also a bit more expensive. For this reason, most organizations opt for a hybrid approach, combining the large storage capacity of HDDs with the faster speed of flash. 

This balanced storage infrastructure allows companies to use the right technology for their different storage needs. Hybrid storage also provides a more economical way to advance from traditional hard drives without shifting completely to flash. 

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a much more scalable and cost-effective way to store data than on-premise storage networks or hard drives. With a cloud service provider, you can save all your data and documents in an off-site location, and then access them through a separate private network connection or the public internet. 

The provider secures, maintains, hosts, and manages the servers and ensures that you have unrestricted access to your data and files whenever you need them.

Hybrid Cloud Storage 

Hybrid cloud storage is a combination of public and private cloud elements. It basically allows you to select the cloud on which to store data. 

For example, highly sensitive data that’s subject to strict replication and archiving regulations is better suited in a private cloud environment. On the other hand, you can safely store less sensitive data in the public cloud. 

What Makes Data Storage Effective?

Preserving all important files and documents is essential for ensuring the reliability and continuity of your network infrastructure and data center. To help ensure you choose a device that best suits your needs, here are some of the features that make a data storage solution effective: 


In order to thrive in today’s fast-paced environment, it’s important to have information readily available for downloading and retrieval. One way to achieve this is by using NAS devices. 

Since they essentially work as file servers, NAS devices are usually the best option for quick transmitting and accessing of data.  


It’s vital to protect your data from unauthorized access. In fact, failure to take strong security measures usually tarnishes a company’s reputation and erodes the confidence of the customers. 

Stolen data leads to companies paying millions of dollars in settlements as well. Weak security might also prevent businesses from following strict regulations. These include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI DSS, which applies to businesses that process debit or credit cards, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which primarily applies to businesses in the healthcare field.      

Along with a breach of highly sensitive data, failure to meet these regulations can also result in hefty fines. For this reason, it’s best to opt for data storage devices with high-grade encryption, such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256.

It’s also better to have a few physical safeguards on your data security device, such as encryption keys, tangible barriers, and locks. 


It’s important to have a data storage device that protects your data from internal failures. Instead of opting for a consumer-grade electronic, it’s better to go for an enterprise-grade storage device, as it’s built with more durable and reliable components and materials.

It’s also advisable to have a data storage system with RAID configurations so that if one hard drive fails, the rest can instantly correct themselves without losing any important data.  


Even small businesses are able to collect extremely large amounts of data. So, it’s best to have a storage solution that can store data compactly and organize it efficiently to reduce downtime.

One way to have an efficient data storage solution is through visualization, which optimizes storage capacity and significantly reduces the amount of reduplicated data in your system. 

How to Find the Best Storage Options

Various digital data storage devices

It’s important to note that there’s no single data storage solution that works for every business. And to find the storage solution that best suits your business, you’ll need to consider the actual needs of your organization. 

For example, a small, local retail business with relatively few customers will have vastly different storage needs than a large multinational organization that holds the personally identifiable information of millions of people. 

Here are some of the factors you should consider when choosing the best storage option for your needs: 

Size of Data Storage

There are several different data storage devices to choose from, and the first thing you should consider when making your decision is the total amount of storage you’ll actually need. 

Different devices have different data storage sizes. For example, smaller devices like SD cards and USB thumb drives offer 1 GB to 32 GB of storage, whereas SSDs and HDDs provide up to 1 TB of storage. Even the built-in storage space in tablets and smartphones ranges from 32GB to 512GB. 


It’s important to consider whether your data storage solution is compatible with your device. For instance, if you store your data on a Blu-Ray Disc or DVD, then you’ll need to have a Blu-Ray or DVD player as well to access the data. 

SD cards work with several different devices that accept SD card implementation, while cloud storage is compatible with almost all devices, as long as there’s a connection.   


Portable storage devices, like USB drives, DVD-ROM drives, flash drives, and external hard drives, allow you to transport, transfer, and carry data anywhere. 

Cloud storage is also an excellent example of a portable storage solution and has capacities ranging from 512 MB and going up to 20 TB of data. 

Data Storage Costs

With so many different data storage devices available today, data storage costs vary greatly. For instance, you can get ten 16GB USB flash drives (on Amazon) for less than $35.

A basic bundle of DVDs (on Amazon) costs around $15, while a Blu-Ray disc bundle can cost about $20 to $30. A 500GB SSD (on Amazon) can cost anywhere between $60 and $150, while a 500GB HDD (on Amazon) costs around $25 to $50.