There are two types of digital information: input and output data. Users provide the input data. Computers provide output data. But a computer's CPU can't compute anything or produce output data without the user's input.
Users can enter the input data directly into a computer. However, they have found early on in the computer-era that continually entering data manually is time- and energy-prohibitive. One short-term solution is computer memory, also known as random access memory (RAM). But its storage capacity and memory retention are limited. Read-only memory (ROM) is, as the name suggests, the data can only be read but not necessarily edited. They control a computer's basic functionality.
Although advances have been made in computer memory with dynamic RAM (DRAM) and synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), they are still limited by cost, space and memory retention. When a computer powers down, so does the RAM's ability to retain data. The solution? Data storage.
With data storage space, users can save data onto a device. And should the computer power down, the data is retained. And instead of manually entering data into a computer, users can instruct the computer to pull data from storage devices. Computers can read input data from various sources as needed, and it can then create and save the output to the same sources or other storage locations. Users can also share data storage with others.
Today, organizations and users require data storage to meet today's high-level computational needs like big data projects, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the internet of things (IoT). And the other side of requiring huge data storage amounts is protecting against data loss due to disaster, failure or fraud. So, to avoid data loss, organizations can also employ data storage as backup solutions.
How data storage works
In simple terms, modern computers, or terminals, connect to storage devices either directly or through a network. Users instruct computers to access data from and store data to these storage devices. However, at a fundamental level, there are two foundations to data storage: the form in which data takes and the devices data is recorded and stored on.