New Strategies for Personal Mass Storage

Your digital life is stored on hard drives, memory keys, on the Internet, and backed up to optical drives. We take a look at how mass storage on your PC is evolving, and suggest how to best plan your future upgrades.

Storage for your digital stuff has never been cheaper. We recently received an ad in our inbox from a well-known electronics retailer. The startling item in the ad was a 1 gigabyte compact flash card for under $90. Recently, Jim Louderback, in his When Im 64 feature, found a Seagate 160GB ATA drive for roughly $60 after rebate. Dual-layer recordable CD drives have dropped to under $100. A tiny Hitachi 2GB Microdrive in a digital camera can store enough digital pictures, if printed out, to fill dozens of shoeboxes.

Mass storage today is cheap and plentiful. Despite this seeming cornucopia of buckets for your bits, storage technology is still evolving. Well take a look at some of the key areas of technical evolution in the arena of personal storage. Here, well be focusing on disk-based media, both optical and hard disk, with an eye on near-term buying decisions. Note that were not going to discuss tape technology, as its no longer a common component of desktop PCs, even though its still heavily used in enterprise environments.

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