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30 years ago, in the 'olden' days of computer storage, saving information in megabytes or gigabytes was a sci-fi fantasy.

The only devices available for storing documents and photos were small floppy disks that held a whopping 320 k of data. The floppy later evolved into the ZIP disk which was a big improvement in allowable storage size, but by modern standards was still limited and slow and cumbersome to process.

Data storage devices and services

Today, there are a number of computer storage devices and even backup software available that allow business data backup or consumers to store up to gigabytes of personal information.

These range from online services that allow data backup for an entire organization — to devices (no larger than your thumb) that can quickly store gigabytes of information you can take with you on the road. Perhaps more importantly, storage media and services allow for quick data recovery in the event of a disk crash to allow quick retrieval of important work or even personal documents and photos that might otherwise have been lost forever.

flash driveFlash drives, are arguably the easiest and most common way for many computer users to store information. Attach into USB port, and Flash drives offer quick plug-n-play portability and can store anywhere from 64 megabytes to 64 gigabytes of data. That includes documents, music files, photos, videos, or any other data you wish to store outside your PC, Mac or laptop for safekeeping. Average price: $10 - $30.

external hard drive connect to USB portExternal hard drives are basically the equivalent of your computer hard drive with the advantage of sitting outside the computer. Plug it into any USB port and increase your computer's storage capacity to up to 2 terabytes of data. Average price: $200 - $300.

dvdRe-writable CDs, DVDS remain popular for their versatility in storing music and movies. They can be played on computers, CD or DVD players, car media players and other portable devices. The average storage capacity for a CD is about 650 MB, while the average storage capacity for a DVD is 4.7 GB. Average price: $6 - $20 per 25 pack.

memory cardMemory cards (also known as smart cards) are mini-disks that have evolved from usage in laptops and notebooks to more commonly cell phones, PDAs, video game consoles and digital cameras, Available in capacities of up to 64 gigabytes. Average price: $20-$100.

Online storage services - also known as 'remote backup', online storage sites allow you to store information on their servers. Common options such as public or private viewing, mobile device access and 24/7 customer support are also usually available. Online services are mainly used by larger organizations with gigabytes of information they wish to secure and protect. Average price: $5 - $20 monthly.

Around the Web, learn more about the best computer data and media storage that's best for you with guides and directories to offsite storage, devices and equipment, flash drives, CD and DVD media, storage management, and more.

More information about computer data storage around the Web:

Storage Devices - Reviews and Price Comparisons from PC Magazine - Breaking news, feature articles and reviews of external hard drives, flash drives, memory cards, CD and DVD burners, or search by type or price.

CNET Reviews - Storage Devices - What the editors have to say about the latest storage equipment, CD burners, DVD players, flash drives and portable hard drives searchable by price, manufacturer, or storage type.

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