Storage options

Backing up is essential to protect your data, but which medium will you choose?
Learn more



It’s all well and good to have a backup plan for preserving your data, but where will you back up your files? And what type of storage solution will suit you best?

To answer this we’ve taken a look at the popular storage options and the pros and cons of each. Included in our comparison are CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, USB flash drives, external hard drives and online data storage.

The format you choose makes a big difference. CDs and DVDs are the cheapest options, but they don’t store as much as external hard drives. Flash-based solutions such as USB keys are portable but expensive for the amount of data they store.

Also, you need to consider how each backup device connects to your computer — you’ll need the right kind of burner to copy onto CDs and DVDs, whereas all modern computers come with USB ports built-in already.

Please note: this information was current as of February 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

In brief

  • CDs and DVDs are the cheapest storage options available.
  • Devices like USB keys have limited capacity, but are highly portable.
  • External hard drives and high definition disc formats hold the most data.
  • Ultimately, the best media for you depends on what you will be using it for. Optical discs are good for cheap portability; external hard drives for large volumes; and flash based solutions like USB keys for ease of use. Online is a more recent alternative, but keep in mind that you have little control over your remote data (sites could go down, you might lose internet access and so on).
  • Regardless of your preference, in most cases you’ll want to make more than one backup — what’s the use of a backup if the backup fails? Subscribe to CHOICE Computer


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.