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A-Level ICT. Backing Storage. Introduction. Unless you want to lose all of the work you have done on your computer, you need to have a way to store it safely. There are various types of storage devices, different devices are suitable for different tasks.

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Backing Storage


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    1. A-Level ICT Backing Storage

    2. Introduction • Unless you want to lose all of the work you have done on your computer, you need to have a way to store it safely. • There are various types of storage devices, different devices are suitable for different tasks. • We will be looking at the main ones which you need to know about.

    3. Introduction

    4. Storage • 2 main methods of storage: • Random Access Memory (RAM) - volatile, so when you turn your computer off, work is lost • Read Only Memory (ROM) – non-volatile, work is saved, even when you turn off the computer • In the exam, you are likely to be presented with a situation, given some details and then asked to recommend a suitable storage device, giving justification for your answer.  You may alternatively be provided with a storage device and asked to suggest a situation where it could be used.

    5. Role of storage devices • Storage devices are designed to hold your data on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.  They are non-volatile, which means that even when the computer is switched off, the data will still be safe. • Storage media are classified into two categories: • Media that can be over-written many times. • Media that can only be written onto once. • Storage devices are sometimes referred to as secondary storage.

    6. Storage Capacity • The amount of data and instructions that can be stored is measured in 'bytes'. • We normally refer to the capacity of a storage device in terms of Kilobytes (KB), Megabytes (MB), Gigabytes (GB) - or even Terabytes and beyond!

    7. Magnetic Tape • Magnetic tapes come in two forms: • Tape reels - these are fairly large and are usually used to back up data from mainframe computers. • Cassettes or cartridges - these are fairly small in size but able to hold enough data to back up the data held on a personal computer or a small network. • Because it takes a long time to back up onto magnetic tape, it is usually done at night or over a weekend when the computer network  is not in heavy use.

    8. Advantages of Magnetic Tape • Relatively cheap • Can hold in excess of 20GB of data (it is possible to get devices that will back up over 200 GB of data) • Backup capacity is easily expanded by simply using more tape.

    9. Disadvantages of Magnetic Tape • Serial access - this means that in order to get to something on the tape, you have to go through everything that comes before it.  • Slow - Because of serial access, it is relatively slow to find the data that you need (however in an exam question, don't just say 'slow', compare it to a storage device with faster access). • Specialist hardware is needed to read the tapes.  Most standard PCs do not come with the hardware required to use them.

    10. Hard Disk • The hard disk drive is the main storage device within a computer. It is where all the applications software and data is kept.  Data stored on a hard disk can be accessed much more quickly than data stored on a floppy disk.  • Most hard drives are installed out of the way inside the computer, however you can also purchase external drives that plug into the machine.

    11. Hard Disk

    12. Advantages of Hard Disks • Large storage capacity • Stores and retrieves data much faster than a floppy disk or CD-ROM • Data is not lost when you switch off the computer • Usually fixed inside the computer so cannot get mislaid. • Cheap on a cost per megabyte compared to other storage media. • Hard disks can be replaced and upgraded as necessary

    13. Disadvantages of Hard Disks • Hard disks eventually fail which stops the computer from working. • Regular 'head' crashes can damage the surface of the disk, leading to loss of data in that sector. • The disk is fixed inside the computer and cannot easily be transferred to another computer.

    14. Floppy Disk • The 'floppy disk' – 3.5 inch • The floppy disk drive enables you to transfer small files between computers and also to make backup copies to protect against lost work. •  It used to be one of the most common storage devices for moving data from one PC to another.  However, as file sizes are becoming larger and other, more reliable storage media become increasingly common, people are using floppy disks less frequently.

    15. Advantages of Floppy Disks • Portable - small and lightweight • Allows random access of data - (unlike tape which is serial) • Can provide a valuable means of backing up data • Inexpensive • Useful for transferring files between computers or home and school. • Private data can be stored securely on a floppy disk so that other users on a network cannot gain access to it. .

    16. Disadvantages of Floppy Disks • Not very strong - easy to damage • Data can be erased if the disk comes into contact with a magnetic field • Quite slow to access and retrieve data compared to a hard disk drive, but it is faster than tape. • Can transport viruses from one machine to another • Small storage capacity, especially if graphics need to be saved

    17. CD-ROM • CD-ROM stands for compact disk read only memory.  • Although we tend to talk about 'CD-ROMs', it is important to note that there are three types of CD-ROMs:

    18. CD-ROM • These disks have been pre-recorded with data. For example • Music Compact Disks cannot be over written. Product Catalogues from suppliers. Computer games. Documentation such as technical manuals.

    19. CD-R • These disks are blank but have been designed to be written onto once only. • Sometimes your CD Burning software may allow you to burn a 'multi-session' disk. All this is doing is treating the CD-R as a number of smaller areas or 'sessions'. 

    20. CD-RW • Often described as 'CD Read-Write'. This technology allows the same area of the disk to be over-written many times (about a 1000 times). • There are two problems with the CD-RW disks – • unlike CD-R some drives have a problem reading CD-RW disks that have been burnt by other manufacturers' drives. • Secondly, CD-R disks are now so cheap that it is less hassle to simply use a blank disk!.

    21. CDs are useful for... • Backup • Transferring files that do not fit onto a floppy disk • Providing data that you do not want altered by someone else e.g. – software programmes or technical manuals.

    22. Advantages of CDs • Data cannot be erased from CD-ROMs • CD-ROMs are small and portable • Very cheap to produce • CD-ROMs have a much larger storage capacity than floppy disks. • Will usually work in a DVD drive.

    23. Disadvantages of CDs • Fairly fragile - easy to break or scratch • Because they are portable they can be lost. • Smaller storage capacity than a hard disk • Slower to access than the hard disk

    24. DVDs • DVDs stands for Digital Versatile Disk and is a relatively new technology.  Like CD- ROMs, they are an optical storage device.   • This amount of storage makes it possible to store complete movies along with special features and multiple language tracks.

    25. Advantages and Disadvantages of DVDs • Advantages • Very large storage capacity • Sound and picture quality is excellent which makes them suitable for video and sound • Increasing availability • Price is dropping for both DVDs and DVD drives. • Disadvantages • Still a relatively new technology so still expensive compared to CD-ROMS. • DVDs do not work in CD ROM drives.

    26. DVD-RW • Advantages • Can store seven times more data than a CD-RW • Suitable for storing video and television programmes • Disadvantages • There are many 'standards' in use, so you have to make sure you buy the correct disk for your drive. • Relatively expensive media compared to a CD-R, so you have to decide whether your data can be stored on one or two 650 Meg disks.

    27. Zip Disks • The Zip drive is similar to a floppy drive but can store 100 MB of data, at • The Zip disk is slightly thicker than a floppy disk and needs a separate drive.  Zip disks are particularly useful for backing up important data or for moving data easily from one computer to another.  Data is compressed, thereby reducing the size of files that are too large to fit onto a floppy disk.  • Advantage: Stores more than a floppy disk Portable • Disadvantage More expensive than floppies • Drives to read the disks are not that common

    28. Flash Memory Stick • Another kind of storage device has recently emerged. It is called 'Flash' memory. Sometimes it is called a 'memory stick', USB memory, Key Memory and others.

    29. Flash Memory Stick • Flash is a 'solid state' memory i.e it has no moving parts unlike magnetic storage devices, nor does it make use of lasers - unlike optical drives. • Instead, it works in a similar way to RAM. The key difference is that data is retained in Flash memory even when the power is switched off. • Typical sizes range from 512Mbyte to 8GB and beyond.

    30. Advantages of Flash Memory Sticks • They are more compact and portable than floppy disks or CDs/DVDs. • They hold more data than a floppy disk and nowadays often more than a CD. • They are more reliable than a floppy disk because they have no moving parts

    31. Disdvantages of Flash Memory Sticks • At the moment, the cost per megabyte of storage is more expensive than floppy disks, CDs or DVDs. • They can be easily lost • The metal part which is inserted into the USB port can be snapped off if they are handled roughly

    32. Other Flash storage

    33. Magnetic vs Optical • It is important that you can distinguish between magnetic and optical storage devices.

    34. Magnetic Storage • Magnetic Tape • Hard Disk • Floppy Disk • Zip Disk • Magnetic stripes on the back of bank cards • Magnetic storage devices store the data on a magnetically coated surface.  They can generally be used many times.  They tend to have a large storage capacity when compared to optical media.  • The main disadvantage is that the data held on these can be damaged if the device is put too close to a strong magnetic field such as a loudspeaker.

    35. Optical Storage • CD-ROM • DVD (all types) • Optical storage devices are read by a laser beam.  Generally they have a more limited storage capacity when compared to magnetic devices.  However, one advantage is that they are more hard wearing than magnetic devices.

    36. Backing up data • Backing up your data is where you make a copy of what is on your system.  However, the original data is still left in place.  The back up can be stored somewhere separately and just used in case the original data gets corrupted or deleted, or the hard disk gets damaged/stolen. • The backup can be used to restore your data to an earlier version.   • The key point is that if you make a backup, you are not deleting or moving the original data - it stays in the same place.

    37. Archiving Data • Archiving is where you want a copy of your data/records, but you no longer need to keep it on your system.Once the data is archived, it is usually removed from the system and the archived copy is kept elsewhere.  • This frees up space on the hard disk or wherever the data was originally stored.

    38. Backing Storage exam tips • If you are given a question about hardware, be it input, output or storage devices, you will usually be asked to identify a piece of hardware for a given situation and justify why you believe it to be suitable. • It is probably a good idea to use the following points to help you explain your choice: • Portability - how easy is the back up to carry around? • Specialist hardware required - tape devices and zip disks require specialist hardware • Cost - the cost of specialist hardware and the cost of the media need to be considered • Speed - How quickly can the back up be made? How quickly can the data be retrieved? • Ease of use - How easy is the device to use? A flash stick or floppy disk are easy, a second hard drive that needs to be removed might take a little more expertise. • Compatibility - not all machines can read all media.  It is not much use if you use a magnetic disk to back up your system, but the person who needs to access the data cannot use the tape as they don't have the hardware.