Digital storage uses a lot of acronyms and trade names, so we put together this glossary to help you understand many of the terms used in digital storage technology.
APFS: Apple File System is the proprietary file system by Apple for its Mac systems that is optimized for solid-state drives.
Bit: The basic unit of data information. A bit can have only one of two values; a 0 or 1 which can be interpreted as yes/no or on/off.
Byte: A unit of digital data that consists of eight bits. Eight bits were required to encode a character of text which is why the byte is the smallest unit of memory.
Cache: A hard drive cache acts as temporary memory while it reads and writes data. HDDs typically have up to 256MB of cache while SSDs may have up to 4GB.
Checksum: A unique numerical signature derived from a file that is used to compare copies.
HDD: A hard disk drive, the most common type of digital media storage device that uses a spinning disk to record and store data.
FAT32: File Allocation Table is a file system used in older Windows systems. It lacks file permissions and other security features.
Flash: Flash storage uses small memory modules with no moving parts. Flash storage is a good option for memory expansion but not for long-term storage.
Floppy: Flexible disks are an old standard that allows data to be stored and transferred between devices.
NTFS: New Technology File System, the file system used by Microsoft Windows.
NVMe: Non-Volatile Memory Express allows SSDs to optimize their read and write speeds.
Optical: A laser encodes data onto a device, such as CDs and DVDs. Optical storage is durable and inexpensive but can be damaged easily.
RAID: A redundant Array of Independent Drives combines multiple hard drives into one system for data redundancy.
SATA: A physical connector that connects an SSD or HDD to the motherboard.
SSD: Solid-state drives do not use a spinning disk to store data; rather, they use persistent memory which makes writing and retrieving data faster.
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