Hard Drive Technology Regarding Data Backup and Integrity
Backup strategies encompass many aspects of technology. Often the software gets all the attention, yet also noteworthy is another important component of backup - the physical storage device. There are several places to store your backup data, and all of them are technically physical. Cloud backup seems virtual, though in reality it's just the act of backing up your data to a remote hard drive via the internet (or intranet). Backing up to a flashdrive (or thumbdrive) is also physical - it lacks a physical disk like a traditional hard drive, but there is still clearly circuitry and an enclosure. File migration software
But this article will address hard drives as they are the most common source and destination for backup data. This makes knowledge of the varieties and their characteristics integral to a strong grasp on data integrity. Hard drives are now offered in two major types: hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs). Hard disk drives have been around for decades, yet their capacity has grown exponentially, especially in the last five to ten years. With the amount of storage now available (one or two terabytes is common), a user can store hundreds of programs and thousands of media files without concern. The ability to store our entire life in such a cavernous digital space further emphasizes the importance of backup and understanding your device. File copy tool
HDDs are generally available in two form factors (physical sizes) - 2.5 inches and 3.5 inches. The 2.5 inch drives are typically found in laptops and "portable external drives". The 3.5 inch drives are typically found in desktops and standard external drives. Though all external drives are relatively portable, 2.5 inch drives are considerably smaller and weigh quite a bit less, and are marketed accordingly. They are used in laptops for the same reasons. Yet their capacity is lower (because the hard disk itself is smaller) and they often generate more heat (because their mechanical components are more tightly packed). Furthermore, given a 2.5 inch drive and a 3.5 inch drive of the same capacity, the 3.5 inch drive will be less expensive. This is simply because it requires a lower data storage density. As such, the rule of thumb for HDD data storage is to buy the (physically) largest drive you can use comfortably for your purposes. Robocopy
Solid state drives are much newer, and like most new technology, more expensive. They also cannot hold as much data. Currently the typical SSD is anywhere from 64 gigabytes to 256 gigabytes (though smaller and larger drives are available). While their capacity offerings grow frequently, they are still approximately one eighth of the HDD capacity for about twice the price. So why would anyone buy an SSD? The answer is deceptively simple - there's no disk. The drive is like a large flashdrive. As such, there are no moving parts to jam or encounter mechanical failure. SSDs can also be dropped from a considerable height, shaken, or otherwise agitated without the loss of integrity one would find in HDDs. Thus the data is physically safer. As there is also a lack of physical spinning, the data is available at a relatively instantaneous rate compared to HDDs, which must spool. Robocopy alternative
SSDs have come under fire in the past for reliability concerns. As with all new technologies, flaws emerge, and are corrected in time. The reliability of OS (operating system) operation on an SSD is improved yet many models still fall behind their HDD counterparts. Reliability of data retrieval, however, is no longer of concern. Given the more robust and resilient nature of the drive itself, overall data integrity and reliability is greater than that of modern HDDs. Ultimately, the two primary concerns regarding backup drive solutions are space needed and budget available. As SSD technology grows in maturity and market segment, it will become an increasingly accessible (no pun intended) form of data storage.