All about storage: how do you store your data?

Fifteen years ago, our lives were still a paper shop, nowadays we store more and more digitally, without a paper backup. This does mean that you have to keep that data as good and safe as possible. At the same time, we also want that data to be quickly available to us and can be copied. How do you find the storage method that best suits your needs?

Tip 01: Online or offline?

We'll start right away with the most important question: do you want to store your data online, or do you want to have it physically near you? If you are not afraid to store your data online (and to be honest there are far fewer risks associated with this than is often thought), then you could consider not purchasing a media carrier at all, but online storage capacity, or the so-called saving in the cloud. The cloud is simply a server located somewhere in the world and managed by the company providing the cloud service. You can store your data there for a fee, and they ensure that your data is available and safe. The advantage? You don't have to worry about theft or damage to your drive and your data is available anytime, anywhere as long as… and that's the downside: you have internet. You cannot access your files without internet access. Now that will rarely happen, but of course it can happen and then unreachable is really unreachable. Another disadvantage is the recurring costs (although they are small at two euros per month for 100 GB (with Google Drive, for example), and the speed of data transfer, which is limited by your own internet speed.

Tip 02: Internal or external

The second question to ask yourself is whether you prefer to store your data on an internal or an external drive. The advantages of an internal drive are that you don't have to worry about cables and power, so you literally don't have to worry about it. That said, having an internal drive means your data is locked inside your computer itself. When your system has crashed or there is something else going on that prevents your computer from starting, you will not be able to access your data. You will then have to screw open your PC, remove your drive and place it in an external enclosure or in another PC to access your data. If you're concerned about that, an external drive might be more convenient, also because you can just take that drive with you. In short, it makes your data a lot more portable. A disadvantage, of course, is that an external drive is more vulnerable, because you can bump it or drop it. If you go for external, make sure you put it in a safe and stable place.

Tip 03: Network?

Another possibility, although not directly related to the carrier itself but more to the approach, is to connect the external hard drive to a NAS (Network Attached Storage). A NAS is a device that ensures that the drives built into that NAS are available via your home network, and, depending on your wishes, also via the Internet. This gives you the advantages of working in a cloud, while you keep your data under your own management. The disadvantage is that a NAS is a lot more expensive than a separate external drive (for example, for a basic Synology NAS you pay 330 euros and then you don't have any drives yet). However, you do get a lot in return. If that's too expensive for you, you can always look at an external drive with network functionality, such as the WD My Passport Wireless Pro.

When it comes to the security of your data, don't forget the hackers

Tip 04: Safety

Safety is of course also an important aspect. An external drive is of course easier to steal than an internal drive, especially a USB stick. Now that is of course not important if you only use these devices in your attic, but if you take the external disk, USB stick or SD card outside, then that is something to take into account. When it comes to security, however, you can also think of hackers and that can also happen in your attic. Suppose you are hacked or ransomware is released on your PC, then you can just lose all your data. As far as the latter is concerned, the remedy is the same everywhere: get good antivirus software. If you also want to be able to access your data outside the home, but are you afraid that your equipment will be stolen, a cloud solution or the aforementioned nas is a solution. If you are afraid of hackers and you fear that even antivirus software is not good enough, you can consider burning your data to a CD, DVD or Blu-ray. If you do this on a disk that is not rewritable, no hacker can ever destroy your data. Keep that disc in a safe place.

Tip 05: Sustainability

When you save your data, you naturally want to be able to access it in about a year. In this regard, we can reassure you that the quality of data carriers has improved so much in recent decades that you do not have to worry about the lifespan of the device. For example, data on a CD or DVD can usually be stored for more than a hundred years, something that you will have no problem with this life. What is of course an issue is the resilience of the storage medium. If you drop a CD, DVD or Blu-ray, nothing will happen, but if it gets a big scratch, the data can become unreadable. A hard drive will naturally not be damaged quickly, but if it gets a big blow (this applies to both an internal and external hard drive), then your data can also become unreadable. The most durable in this area is a USB stick, SSD disk or SD card. You can basically throw a USB stick and SD card around the room without anything going on (at your own risk, though). We do not recommend using an SSD, but that is mainly because the housing and the electronic components do not survive. The most sustainable at the moment is cloud storage, simply because the cloud provider takes care of replacing the hardware if necessary.

Tip 06: Portability

If you are looking for a portable solution, something that you can always take with you, then an internal hard drive is obviously not an option. An external hard drive, on the other hand, will soon be at the top of your list. We do recommend that you buy a so-called rugged version, in other words one that is built into a housing that can withstand a knock, water, sand and so on, because you never know where you will end up. In theory, an SD card would also be suitable here, because of its compactness, but the storage capacity of these cards is limited. Moreover, not every computer has a built-in slot for SD cards, which means that you should always have a card reader with you. By far the most common solution for portable storage is a USB stick. The storage capacity of these sticks has grown enormously over the years. For a stick of 256 GB you pay about 100 euros, and they are so compact that they can be put in your pocket or on your key ring. In addition, more and more USB sticks have the option of data protection. If you need more storage, an ssd drive is your best option, but be aware that this is still relatively expensive: for 1 TB you quickly pay 250 euros.

Save memories on Blu-ray: you won't lose them and they are immediately categorized by year

Tip 07: Fixed or volatile?

An important consideration is whether the data you want to store is permanent or temporary. If you are in a situation in which you regularly have to process gigabytes of information, but you do not have to keep that information (for a long time), then a hard disk or SSD is an ideal solution. A cloud solution is not recommended for this situation, because then you have to constantly download and upload all that data, and depending on your internet connection, that can slow down your work rate considerably. However, if you have data that takes up a lot of space and want to keep it (forever), but that you don't need constantly, we recommend your Blu-ray. For example, think of all your photos and videos. Instinctively you always want to have them ready, but if you are honest, you know that they are a big mess on your PC and smartphone and you hardly ever look at them anymore. You can continue to buy larger hard disks, because your disk is full of photos and videos, but it is more convenient (and cheaper) to buy a Blu-ray burner, and every year all photos and videos from that year on one disc and store it in the cabinet. Firstly, you do not have to fear that you will lose those valuable memories due to ransomware and they are also categorized by year.

Tip 08: Capacity

We briefly touched on this subject in tip 6: which media carrier you need strongly depends on the storage capacity you need. If it concerns data that you mainly need on your own PC, and 500 GB is enough, we absolutely recommend an SSD drive. These are fast and reliable, but they are limited in storage capacity compared to the traditional hard drive and also much more expensive. If you need terabytes, a hard drive is the only solution. If it's really only a few gigabytes and if you think it's important to always carry that data with you, go for a USB stick, with the note that speed is not the most important consideration for you.

Tip 09: Speed

You may be of the opinion that speed is not the most important criterion when buying a media carrier. You'll probably change that opinion when you try to transfer a 20 gigabyte file to, say, your PC. Speed ​​is important for copying data, but especially when you read the data directly from the media carrier, such as with video editing. For example, a USB stick is totally unsuitable for these kinds of solutions. The SanDisk Cruzer Ultra Flair 64 GB USB stick, for example (a great brand), has a maximum read speed of 150 MB per second and a maximum disk speed of 60 MB per second.

In comparison: a Samsung 860 EVO 500GB SSD drive achieves a maximum read/write speed of about 550 MB per second for comparison. The read/write speed of a hard disk is usually considerably lower than that of an SSD, although this varies greatly by brand and type of disk. SD cards are not really an option for fast data transfers, even the Sandisk SDXC Extreme Pro only has a read speed of 95 MB per second.

Is the speed of your media carrier not important? You'll get back to that soon

Tip 10: Compatibility

Finally, a point that is sometimes overlooked: the compatibility of media carriers. When you burn your data on a blu-ray, and the computer on which you want to read it doesn't have a blu-ray player, it stops quickly (unless you buy an external player). The same applies to an SD card, as we indicated earlier (sd cards turn out to be especially suitable for transferring files from a camera or smartphone to the PC). The safest choice you can make is a device that uses USB, such as a USB stick or external SSD drive or hard drive. Although it is still important to look closely at the specifications. For example, if you buy a super-fast USB3.1 drive, but it turns out that your computer only has a USB 1.0 port, then you can't use the capacities of your super-fast drive at all. Since the arrival of USB-C, an additional complexity has been added. Not only does usb-c have a different plug than you are used to, it also has other options, such as passing on (a lot of) power. This not only means that you can sometimes not connect certain devices, but also that you can completely burn out a port (although this is especially true when using cheap (converter) cables without protection, bought through Chinese discounters). It is therefore important that you think carefully about the devices on which you want to use your media carriers, and what their specifications are.

Buying tips

In our opinion, the external hard drive, external SSD drive and USB stick are the most reliable and user-friendly methods for storing data that you want to use often and take with you. We have selected an excellent candidate for you from each category.

Type: Kingston HyperX Savage USB 256GB

Price: €119.99

This USB stick from Kingston is quite expensive, but for that you get a stick with a lot of storage capacity and an above-average read/write speed. You can attach it to your key ring and the stick is also equipped with an extra protective cap so that no mess can get between the connection. The stick supports the usb3.1 protocol for extra fast data transfer (limited of course by the speed of the stick itself).

Type: LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive Usb C 2TB

Price: € 89,-

Not only does this hard drive from LaCie look great and is very compact, you can also connect it via USB-C for that extra fast data transfer, while you don't need a power cable. The price tag and the 2 TB storage capacity are well balanced and the compactness of this drive means that you can put it on your system case without it getting in the way or risking falling.

Type: Samsung Portable T5 500GB

Price: €129.99

To keep an SSD affordable, you should think of a maximum of 500 GB (otherwise you will quickly go to amounts around 250 to 300 euros). This SSD from Samsung is bizarrely light and compact, namely slightly larger than your bank card, although it is of course a lot thicker. The drive is shock-resistant and energy-efficient and comes with a USB-C cable, without having to connect an external power supply to your PC (although an adapter cable is also possible, but remember the warning at tip 10).

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