Tech Blog Technology

Data Storage technologies

Storing data has come a long way and the terminology for the capacities has changed along the way to keep up with the increasing amount we can store.  From Bytes to Megabytes, to Gigabytes to Terabyte, in most small businesses and Petabyte to Yottabytes in international companies or Government data centres.

Megabyte (MB)1,000,000A 3.5 in floppy disk held 1.44megabytes
Gigabyte (GB)1,000,000,000USB Flash drive typically holds 8 or 16 Gigabytes
Terabyte (TB)1,000,000,000,000Based storage on new Apple iMac
Petabyte (PB)1,000,000,000,000,000250,000 DVDs
Exabyte (EB)1,000,000,000,000,000,000250 million DVDs
Zettabyte (ZB)1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000250 billion DVDs
Yottabyte (ZB)1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000NSA data centre

The devices that we store the data has changed over the years: floppy disks, hard disk drives, flash sticks and the latest Solid state devices. The technology has helped us store more and more data.

Floppy disks

The magnetic storage diskette which was enclosed by square plastic that had a fabric layer to remove dust particles from the spinning disk.  Invented by IBM in 1960s and began as 8 inches with a capacity of 80 kilobytes.  5¼ inch soon became popular as the storage increased from 360Kb to 1.2MB. The 3½ inch disks developed in 1986 provided 1.44MB of storage and had a hard-plastic shell.  This was common in offices until 2006 as CDs/DVDs and Flash drives gradually replaced portable storage media.

3.5 inch floppy disk

Hard Disk Drives

Hard Disks have come a long way since the first hard disk drives (HDD) were commercially available by IBM in 1957.  Originally, the media was 24 inches and over time the traditional hard disk has been reduced to 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch standard sizes.

From 20 MB capacity disks in the early 90s, capacities have increased as well as disk speeds. The first 200GB disk in 2006 from Toshiba to the latest disks storing 20TB. 

Hard Disk drive

Solid State Device

Often still referred to as a disk, the SSD has no moving parts or read-write heads.  As a result, they run silently and have quicker access times than the traditional HDD.  SSDs store data in semiconductor cells known as Flash memory.  They have a controller which allows them to use the same SATA connector as modern Hard disks.  This is useful as it allows an upgrade path from traditional Hard disks in devices.  The largest SSD currently is 100TB and uses the SATA interface. 

Solid State Disk SSD

USB Flash drive

The portable version of the internal SSD, the capacity has increased from the initial few Megabytes of storage to 1TB USB 3.0 devices available today.  The speed of these devices is limited to the throughput capabilities of the USB 3.0 port. 

USB Type-C which use the USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard can be found with capacities of 2TB and read/write speeds of up to 1050MB/s

As more PCs are released with the USB Type-C ports these will become more popular.

USB Flash disk


A typical SATA SSD can utilise the 6 Gigabit of the SATA interface.  This began to cause some bottlenecks on devices, manufacturers have developed the M.2 NVMe SSD with higher bus speeds from the PCIe 4.0 which has 8TB & 16 Lanes.  These can reach speeds of 15.0GB/s sequential read/writes and require large heatsinks to prevent thermal throttling.   

In both laptops and desktops, we are seeing the M.2 NVMe SSDs which improves the performance of the PC as operating system is now not waiting for the disk to spin and move the head into the position so it can read the data.  The lack of moving parts also helps to prevent disk heads crashing into the platters if there is a power outage or sudden jolt if the device is dropped or nudged by a user.   

As the M.2 SSDs are smaller than a 2.5” disk we also expect the size of the computers to reduce slightly as long as the airflow can manage the heat they produce.

M.2 NVMe

If you would like to know more or currently have Hard Disks in your PC which could be slowing you down, contact us to discuss an upgrade.