What is data storage?
Data; What is it, why do we need it, why do we have so much, what is the best way to store it?
That’s a lot of questions, let me help you direct you to some answers. Data is everywhere. Literally. And we’re creating more than ever. In fact, we have created more data in the last three years than in the entire previous history of the human race!
There are two types of data: structured and unstructured.
Structured data refers to any data located in a fixed field within a record or file and is most often generated to support a transaction and is usually stored in a relational database or spreadsheet. Structured data is almost always stored within the application itself or a database.
Unstructured data is a generic label to describe any information that is not organized in a predefined way. It usually has a lot of text, but it can also contain data such as dates, numbers, and facts. It is divided into two categories
: “textual” and “non-textual”: Examples of unstructured textual data are
email messages, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc. Examples
non-textual unstructured data are JPEG images (photos), audio and video files
Ninety-five percent of annual data growth comes from unstructured data. If you think about what’s currently on your computer’s hard drive, whether it’s in the office or at home, you probably won’t find this statistic all that shocking.
Okay, so we have all this data, what do we do with it to store it effectively and, more importantly than ever, securely?
First of all, we need to understand what storage options are available:
External hard drive
Just like what’s already installed on your desktop or laptop, except these can be connected to your machine when needed. Therefore, they can be stored separately so that they can be used for very basic backups. The main advantage of these drives is that they are a relatively cheap way to store data. The potential disadvantages are that they are not very safe and must be handled relatively delicately.
types of drives have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their robustness and the speeds at which they can read and write data. Prices are starting to come down, but they are still much more expensive than traditional internal or external hard drives. It also has the same security concerns as traditional external hard drives.
Network Attached Storage (NAS)
Think of them as a kind of mini network. They are simply one or more regular hard drives connected to your network through an Ethernet port. You can then view them on your computer like any other hard drive. The key advantages are that they are very good for local backups for networks and small businesses. They can contain large amounts of data and can be configured with redundancy. Disadvantages include that they are difficult to carry off-site, meaning they should be used only as local backup and are therefore still susceptible to disasters on your premises, such as fire, flooding, and theft.
USB drive/flash drive
Extremely robust and highly portable due to their size, however, they are quite limited in the amount of data they can hold. They are also relatively expensive in terms of £s per GB they can hold. We’ve also all heard stories of these little devices being lost or left where they shouldn’t have been. Their safety is a major obstacle for some.
Optical drives (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
These may be fine for music or movies, etc., but they really shouldn’t be used for data storage due to their relatively short lifespan, small storage space capacities, and propensity for damage.
Cloud Storage This, in a
nutshell, is storage space accessible from any internet connection. Your data is stored in an external data center. Some companies offer a small amount of free storage (Google, Dropbox, Microsoft, etc.) with more space and enhanced security options, available if you pay a subscription fee. The main advantages of off-site storage are; that is not affected by potential disasters that could occur on your premises” It is highly reliable (most companies offer a financially backed SLA of 99.9%) and is backed up in a separate location. The disadvantages include the possibility of speed issues if you don’t have a fast enough internet connection. You should also be aware that some providers may host your data outside the UK. You need to make sure your data is kept in a UK data center where security is tightest.
As you can see, there are many options to consider for storing your data. Perhaps the best different solutions for your structured and unstructured data would be the best. Our experts will be happy to learn about your data storage requirements and advise you on the best and most cost-effective way to manage them.
OGL can offer a solution that fits the needs of any business. Our consultants will work with you to understand which is the best option for your business.