What is the difference between Flash drives, Hard drives, Magneto-Optical drives, Optical drives and Ruggedized drives?
Most of us are familiar with regular hard drives and their ability to act as virtual file cabinets for the increasing number files and programs that PC users accumulate. In vintage 2007 PCs they typically range in capacity from 80 GB, to more than 500 GB (or GigaBytes) of data.
Flash drives, which are easily ‘hooked-up’ using USB (universal serial bus) connections perform a similar storage function for smaller amounts of data (typically holding from 64 KB [or KiloBytes] up to 2 GB [or GigaBytes] or more) while also providing a fast and convenient way to move data from place-to-place, and then make it available for quick access (just like accessing a hard disk) once its there.
Ruggedized drives are specially designed for industrial purposes or ‘extreme’ conditions. We might imagine a ruggedized drive being mounted on-board a dump-truck–based computer, being carried around a construction site, or being used on a polar expedition. By definition these drives will withstand environmental extremes, being dropped and/or knocked-around without failing.
This is the early PC storage technology that folks, who were using computers in the 80's and early 90's, will recall. Included are 5.25" (holds about 360KB, or Kilobytes) and later 3.5" (holds about 1MB, or MegaByte) discs that were sometimes referred to a floppies due to the structure of the 5.25" discs. Increasingly the latest of these technologies, 3.5" discs, are available only as an option on new PCs.
Optical drives involve the use of:
The advantage of optical drive media is it's easy portability and durability compared to tape. Its' better suited to extreme environmental conditions, but is generally slower to access than hard- or flash- drives. In very rough terms you can imagine the relative speeds in powers of 10. If memory is 1,000, a hard disk might be closer to 100 and an optical (or magneto-optical) drive at 10.
Since these drives are routinely acquired as backup devices readers may also be interested in our guide titled 'Computer BackUp for Small Business-The Who, What and Why?'