Storage technology has developed at lightning speeds since the first storage devices dating back to the late 1920’s. It is fascinating to see what caught on and became a staple of storage-past and what only had it’s 15 minutes in the spotlight (I’m looking at you, zip disk). For a simple yet intriguing history of storage devices, check out this crafty chart on zetta.net.
At NCTV, we utilize a variety of storage options including external hard drives, flash drives, SD cards and the cloud. SD cards have become our lifeblood because this is what we use in all of our cameras to record events in town. Before we get into too much detail about SD cards, take a look below at a simple glossary of terms that you might run into while searching for what fits for you.
Cloud Storage - This is an internet based storage system that is not hosted locally (ie. on your computer or your own external drives). Any company that offers cloud storage options has data servers at another location that is storing your files for you and, theoretically, the files are stored redundantly so there is little threat of data loss. For more info about cloud storage, visit HowStuffWorks.com.
External Hard Drive - This hard drive is meant for desktop use and is a drive encased in plastic. They are usually the size of a chapter book and require a power source as well as a data connection (USB, thunderbolt, firewire, etc.) These have been HDD in the past but are starting to become available as SSD.
Flash Drive - This device is a small storage system with flash memory inside. They vary in size from a tube of lipstick to dime. They’re also called USB Drive or Thumb Drive. They connect to a computer via USB.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD) - This device has a readable disk inside the hard drive that spins when it is being read. This is why you’ll hear a whirring sound in a computer or hard drive when it is being used and why a fan is required to keep it cool. This technology is becoming out-of-date as SSD drives become more popular.
Internal Hard Drive - This is a drive that is installed directly to a computer’s tower or laptop. When searching online, these drives will look exposed because they are intended for internal use. Typical drives were HDD in the past but they are now transitioning to SSD.
Micro SD Card - This is a physically smaller SD card typically used in things like cell phones and some forms of cameras (ex. GoPros). See below for more info about SD card storage. These cards use adapters that are the size of regular SD cards to be downloaded, etc.
Portable Hard Drive - These drives are much smaller than an external drive (slightly larger than a deck of cards). They do not require an external power source and they are powered through the USB cable that connects to your computer. These can be HDD or SSD.
RAID Drive (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) - A RAID drive is a type of hard drive and is basically a built-in backup. If one drive breaks, that drive can be replaced without any data loss. RAID drives can come in a variety of sizes and the level and complexity of the redundancy varies. For more info about RAID, visit wikipedia.org.
SD Card (Secure Digital Card) - These cards are used in a variety of settings but most notably in cameras (still and video). They are flash based and come in a variety of different sizes and classes (more on this below).
Solid State Drive (SSD) - These drives do not have any moving parts. This lends to them being more reliable since there are less things that can break. Flash is a type of SSD.
At NCTV, we use SD cards and micro SD cards for filming, depending on the camera. Most of our regular cameras take SD cards but our GoPro camera takes micro SD cards. SD and micro SD cards come in different storage capacities as well as speeds. Let’s take a look at what it all means.
The type of SD card is extremely important. Generic SD cards is where it all started but is a relic of the past at this point. These cards do not have class ratings (more on that in a minute) and are likely too slow for the technology we have today. SDSC cards are suitable for point-and-shoot digital cameras and standard definition video but are too slow for much else. SDHC cards are most common and can handle high definition (depending on the class). SDXC is the newest form and can handle up to 4k video. These are more expensive and not compatible with all devices so be sure that’s what you need before investing.
SD cards can come in a variety of capacities as well. Check the specs of your product before investing in a card because some devices can only handle up to a specific capacity card. They range in size from under 2GB to up to 2TB, depending on the type of card.
Class rating is an extremely important aspect of SD card selection. SDHC card classes can be class 2, 4, 6, or 10. This corresponds to how many megabytes per second it can read/write. Class ratings are noted by a number within a circle on the face of the card. For our purposes, we exclusively use class 10 cards for filming HD video with no problems. Additionally, there is a new class system called UHS (Ultra High Speed) that have a rating of 1 or 3. These cards write at 10 or 30 megabytes per second, respectively. These classes are noted by the number within a U on the face of an SD card.
Through researching for this blog post, I discovered that there is a nonprofit regulating organization for all things SD Cards which contains a wealth of information. They are the SD Association (SDA) and can be found at www.SDCard.org. This amazing chart is straight from their website and beautifully identifies different cards and what they are used for. I urge you to browse their website to learn even more about SD cards and how to find what is right for you and your devices!
How Cloud Storage Works. (2008, April 29). Retrieved December 9, 2015, from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-storage.htm
How to Buy an SD Card: Speed Classes, Sizes, and Capacities Explained. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2015, from http://www.howtogeek.com/189897/how-to-buy-an-sd-card-speed-classes-sizes-and-capacities-explained/
RAID. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID
SD Association. (2015, September 22). Retrieved December 9, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SD_Association
SD Association. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2015, from http://www.sdcard.org
Zetta Enterprise Data Protection. (n.d.). Retrieved December 9, 2015, from http://www.zetta.net/history-of-computer-storage/