A portable digital storage device generally allows convenient collection and access to large amounts of digital data. There are numerous devices in this category including external hard drives, flash drives, and MP3 players. Each type of device usually has features and limitations that can make it preferable in some instances but less attractive in others.
Data storage devices have greatly evolved over time. Comparing an 8-track tape and a Compact Disk (CD) can reveal just how much has changed. The advent of the portable digital storage device has accomplished many things.
One of the innovative benefits of such devices is that they allow various types of data to be stored in one location. A cassette, for example, can only host one form of media. A flash drive, however, can store text, video, and audio in one place. The quality of the stored information also generally is better with a portable digital storage device than with many older devices. The music stored on an MP3 player usually has a significantly higher audio quality than that of a cassette.
A second benefit of a portable digital storage device is that it makes large amounts of data conveniently accessible. Older storage devices not only were generally bulkier, but they also had smaller storage capacities. Many portable digital storage devices can be hidden in the closed palm of a child's hand.
The storage capacity of digital storage devices can vary greatly, ranging from dozens of megabytes (MB) to hundreds of gigabytes (GB). Some very small devices can store hours of video and thousands of text documents, images, and audio files. It is common for these devices to be plug-and-play, meaning that extra software or formatting is not required to begin using them. This also means that people typically can use the devices with numerous computers.
This flexibility of storing information from numerous sources is accompanied by the benefit of being able to access that information in various locations. Entire databases easily can be moved from one place to another and accessed within minutes. This often proves to be an invaluable benefit for various types of businesses.
The choice of one portable digital storage device over another can depend on a number of things. When people need high storage capacity, they often will choose an external hard drive over a flash drive. A flash drive often is preferred when a person wants something compact.
Sometimes the decision is based on which portable digital storage device operates easiest with another device. For example, the easiest way to store images from a digital camera usually is with a Secure Digital (SD) memory card. This is a small, thin device that can slide into a slot in the battery compartment, be used to collect data, and later be withdrawn and inserted into a computer or printer where the data is easily retrieved.