Broken Hard DriveThere is one major problem with the traditional data storage methods used today – the media used to stare the data is often easily corruptible. That’s because, by and large, most media used today is still magnetic, a type of media which is easily prone to damage and data loss.

When you really stop to think about it, it’s surprising how reliable these storage devices are, considering how fragile they are. Items like hard disk drives, CDs and DVDs, and even jump drives aren’t infallible, even though we’d like them to be.

A Look at Our Current Media

Here is an overview of the most common types of storage media used today, and the concerns surrounding those devices.

Hard Disk Drives

The Hard Disk Drive (HDD), commonly found in most computers, is basically made up of a series of platters on top of one another, almost like several record players stacked up. The arm writes and reads data from one platter to the next. If it is bumped, moved, or jostled while the arm is moving, it could do major damage to one or more platters.

Additionally, HDDs are made of magnetic media, which can degrade over a long period of time if not stored properly. This is also why you cannot have magnets around your computers, as they could erase the data on the media (if the magnet is strong enough).

CDs / DVDs – Also made of magnetic media, CDs and DVDs are very easy to damage. One scratch on the surface can mean all the difference between being able to read your data, or not. Additionally, CDs and DVDs need to be stored properly, out of direct sunlight and away from any magnets or other damaging items, in order to help preserve the data the store.

Jump Drives / Solid State Drives

The most reliable storage media currently available are jump drives / solid state drives. A jump drive is just a smaller, more portable solid state drive. These types of drives have no moving parts, unlike a traditional HDD, they are more robust than traditional storage devices. However, jump drives, because they are so small and portable, are easy to lose, misplace, or damage. Additionally, they are susceptible to data loss if the device is not removed correctly.

The Future of Data Storage

Despite these flaws, most of our current storage devices are relatively reliable. However, one company, Hitachi, aims to change how we store data with its newest invention – the glass quartz chip.

The small quartz glass square, currently a prototype, is small, coming in at 2 cm x 2 cm (that’s less than 1 inch on each side), and can hold 40 megabytes per square inch. However, more exciting is that it is nearly indestructible, as it can withstand extreme temperatures, water, and most chemicals.  What’s more, because there’s no magnetic media involved, the data contained can be stored for a much longer amount of time. The only concern could be the media outliving the machines that are available to read it. Currently, this new type of media is in the testing phase, but could be available as early as 2015.

What do you think? Is this new media type a good way to go, or should we try to find ways to make the most out of our current media types?

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you learn more about your technology. Email: [email protected].

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