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Talkin' Tech: Choose Your Media Wisely
Talkin' Tech page provides guidelines for:
 An overview of different media options for the computer.

Do You Know Where Your Drives Are?

When saving files, you can store files on:

·        Your PC’s hard drive

·        A folder on the CCAC network

·        An external source


Click on any word in red to see more information on that topic!


More information on storage media can be found on the Talkin' Tech page: Choose Your Media Wisely.

You should know the advantages and limitations of storing files in any of these locations:

USB Drives
(a.k.a. flash, pen, jump, thumb, key drives & memory sticks)

General Information: A USB drive is a compact USB memory drive that is similar to an external hard drive, but with less storage capacity.  USBs store an incredibly large amount of information on a device that looks like a highlighter marker.  About the size of a pack of gum, a USB drive slips easily into your pocket and can be used in place of a CD, floppy disk, external hard drive, and zip disk. 

Recommended Usage: USB drives can store and backup large amounts of information.  Due to the small size of USB drives, they are particularly good for files that need to be transported from one location to another.


Pros: The fairly new, compact USB drives have become an extremely popular storage media.  USB drives are more durable than other popular forms of storage media (i.e. floppy disks, zip disks, external hard drives) because they do not contain internal moving parts. 


The storage capacity of a USB drive depends upon what size you purchase.  A USB 2.0 can store over 4 gigabytes (GB) or 4000 megabytes (MB) of information, which is 6 times the storage capacity of a CD. 


Transfer speeds of a USB drive are miniscule and can occur in seconds.

USB drives can store information for approximately 10 years and they are not vulnerable to magnets.


Cons: High-end  drives can be expensive.  Due to their small size, USB drives are easily misplaced.


Our Recommendations:


  • Buy a USB drive that has “No drivers needed” on the package.  USB drives are plug and play devices, which should be recognized by the computer as soon as the flash drive is inserted into a USB port.  However, flash drives that use “compression” will require installation of drivers on the computer.
  • Always remove USB drive by right-clicking on the Remove Hardware icon that is located near your clock/time.  Do not just pull the drive out.  (Please see "How to Use a USB Drive" link below.)


Links that will answer your questions:

How to Use a USB drive

Tips for Caring for Your Digital Media
Storage Media Recommendations

External Hard Drive


General Information: External hard drives come in various storage capacities, which range from 20  gigabytes (GB) to around 1 terabyte (TB).  External hard dives are not always truly external.  Some external hard drives sit within a cradle in a free drive bay in the computer, but others are truly external and connect to the computer via a cable.  To connect your external hard drive to your computer, you may choose either USB (USB 1.0 or USB2.0) or Firewire cable (requires a Firewire interface card).  Moving Files or Data transfer rates with both USB 2.0 and Firewire are very quick indeed. 

With any external hard drive it is fairly easy to drag and drop files from the main hard drive to the back up.  However, some external hard drives have a single button on their case for data transfer, which makes the whole process very easy indeed.  With one button push, the preinstalled software creates a full mirror backup of the computer hard drive onto the external drive.

According to manufacturers, the lifespan of an external hard drive is 2 to 10 years, but realistically the lifespan of an external hard drive may range from 2 to 5 years.

Recommended Usage: External hard drives can store individual files, but are best used to backup your entire PC’s hard drive. 

Pros: External hard drives are fast and it is easy to move files between the external hard drive and user’s PC.  It may also be stored offsite and is portable.


Cons: The external hard drive and power supply are expensive.


Our Recommendations:

  • For information on purchasing an external hard drive, please contact your local ITS Field Director.

Links that will answer your questions:

What is the difference between Firewire and USB?






General Information: A CD (Compact Disc), which is only 4.8 inches in diameter, can hold up to 700 (MB) of information or about 80 minutes of music.  Information is recorded or burnt onto bumps that form a single, spiral track.  A laser within the CD drive reads and interprets the bumps and plays the requested information


Recommended Usage: There are two types of recordable CDs: CD-R and CD-RW.  The CD-R allows one-time recording only.  CD-R media are economical and are preferred storage media for one-time backup of information.

Unlike a CD-R, a CD-RW disc can be re-recorded or re-written up to 1,000 times.  While the CD-RW disc is priced slightly higher than a CD-R disc, the CD-RW is one of the most economical forms of storage media.

(Please note:  If your work computer does not h, your department may purchase a CD burner.  When purchasing a CD burner, please follow these specifications:


Other Considerations: On the CD-R and CD-RW disc, you may see "Certified up to 24x".  The 'x' on the CD refers to a speed of data transfer of copying one CD to another.  For instance, if you were recording at 2x, it would take about 40 minutes to record an 80-minute CD; at 4x, it would take about 20 minutes to record an 80-minute CD.


Pros: With up to 700MB of data storage, CDs can store the information of about 500 floppy discs.  Holding between 650 to 700 MB of data, CDs are more than adequate for small backups and have a fast transfer rate.

Since CDs are fairly small, they are easy to transport and store.  They are inexpensive and can last from 5-10 years.  Also, CDs are not susceptible to magnets.


Cons: If mishandled, CDs can be easily scratched and made unusable. 


Our Recommendations:

  • The data side of the disc must remain free from scratches, fingerprints, dust, etc.
  • Always handle CDs by the edges or the center hole.
  • Always return CDs to a jewel-box or sleeve when done; don't stack them or set them down on hard surfaces.
  • Never write on the data side of the CD, and use a felt-tip, permanent marker to write on the label side.
  • Never leave an unprotected CD in direct sunlight, and avoid exposure to extreme heat and humidity


Links that will answer your questions:

How CDs Work

How to Burn A CD using Roxio

Storage Media Recommendations



Backing Up your Files

Even if you have chosen to store your files on the F: or U: drives, you are responsible for backing up your documents regularly and faithfully.  All network drives are backed up on a nightly basis.  However, you should not rely on ITS disaster recovery processes to secure your personal documents.  It may be very difficult or impossible for ITS Operations to restore only a segment of the network for one individual. 


It is your responsibility to regularly back up your documents to an external media source.  Jump/ Flash drives, CD/ DVD and Zip drives all provide excellent resource for you to make backup copies of files.




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