What is a Secondary Storage Device

Secondary storage devices are vital for businesses and organizations that want to ensure backup protection. They allow for archiving data and improve the performance of servers and information systems by freeing up primary storage space.

Secondary storage devices are non-volatile, meaning they retain their stored data when they are powered off. They are generally less expensive than primary storage and offer a higher capacity per unit of storage.

Hard Disk Drives (HDDs)

Secondary storage is an essential component of computer system memory hierarchy. Without it, a computer would only have primary storage (RAM). Secondary devices can be either fixed or removable. Removable devices are easier to take away from the computer, such as diskettes and USB memory sticks, and allow backup copies of data to be made.

Fixed devices are typically cheaper than removable devices, but offer slower data access and are susceptible to physical damage. They can include hard disk drives (HDDs), magnetic tape, and optical discs. They are often part of a tiered storage solution, replicating data from primary to secondary storage to alleviate load on the primary systems.

Solid-State Drives (SSDs)

Since the mid-2000s, SSDs have entered the consumer marketplace as possible replacements for traditional tough disk drives (HDDs). Continuous technological advancements and decreasing production charges have made them cheaper and more available.

They use electronic memory that does not have any moving parts, which reduces wear and tear, and they usually last for years in low intensity applications. They can save more data in smaller spaces than HDDs and typically run faster. The difference between primary and secondary memory is that the primary memory is directly accessible to the cpu, while secondary memory is not directly accessible to the cpu and is used to store data

Secondary storage data resides on non-volatile memory devices like SSDs, HDDs, backup tapes or optical media and can be stored on premises, in co-location facilities, or on cloud repositories. These devices are often used for backup and disaster recovery purposes, but they can also support active noncritical workloads.

Flash Memory

Flash memory is non-volatile, meaning that it doesn’t require a constant power source to retain data. This makes it a good choice for backup and archiving purposes, since the data can be stored indefinitely without fear of data loss.

It’s also rugged enough to withstand the bumps and drops that come with everyday use. It’s typically used in conjunction with air-gapping, a method of storage that ensures one copy of critical data is disconnected from the network.

Secondary storage devices may be fixed or removable, like diskettes and hard drives. Removable media tends to have slower access speeds, but it offers a larger storage capacity at a lower cost per gigabyte.

USB Memory Sticks

USB flash drives or memory sticks (also known as thumb drive in the US, jump drive in UK & pen drive in many countries) are small portable data storage devices that combine flash memory with an integrated universal serial bus interface. They are rewritable and can be used on multiple computer systems.

These devices require power to work, but they can keep stored data even when unplugged from a computer. This is because the internal circuits use a control gate and drain to prevent energy from traveling backward. They use multi-level cell (MLC) based memory that is good for a few thousand program-erase cycles.

Optical Disks

Optical discs are a type of non-volatile storage device that uses laser technology to store data. They’re used for storing music, video, and other types of information that can be played back with an optical disc drive or Blu-Ray player.

They’re often used as secondary storage devices because they offer a high level of reliability and support for recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO). This type of secondary storage also helps organizations manage backup and recovery processes effectively while saving money on expensive hardware.

Unlike magnetic disks, they’re not susceptible to electromagnetic interference and other environmental factors. However, they’re still vulnerable to heat, scratching, fingerprints, and other physical damage.

Cloud Storage

Secondary storage provides non-volatile data storage, allowing users to access and retrieve information even after a system shuts down. These devices are typically much less expensive than primary storage, providing a cost-effective way to maintain large volumes of information over long periods.

Organizations leverage secondary storage to backup critical data and archive less-critical data sets, such as reference data or older operational data that no longer needs daily access. They also leverage secondary storage to support disaster recovery (DR) and long-term retention strategies.

Non-critical data can be stored on secondary storage tiers that reside within an organization’s network or remotely hosted on cloud services. Unitrends offers both physical and cloud-based secondary storage solutions to help organizations balance DR, retention and costs.

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