Purpose Packages
Commercial Data
Computer Systems
Computer Systems
Programming Course

Collect Homework

Computer Hardware

Memory & Storage


Helpful Extras

9. Backing Storage: Magnetic Types

Definition: Backing storage devices are hardware that is used to store the programs and data that the computer can access. Unlike RAM (or working) memory the contents of backing storage will not be lost when power to the computer system is turned off.

Backing Storage Devices

There are three types of backing storage hardware we need to know about:

  1. Magnetic based drives, for example:-
    1. Hard disk
    2. Floppy Disk
    3. Magnetic tape
  2. Optical based drives, for example:-
    1. CD drive (ROM and RW)
    2. DVD drive (RPM and RW)
  3. Flash or solid state chip based drives, for example:-
    1. USB drive
    2. SD cards.


Storage Media

Storage Media is a term used to describe the different categories of backing storage devices on which software and data is saved. The following sections dealing with hard disks, floppy disks, magnetic tape, CD's, DVD's and flash drives are all examples of different types of backing storage media.


Magnetic Drives

1. Hard Disk

Hard Disk



Advantages of Hard disks

  1. Large storage capacity.
  2. They read and write data very quickly.
  3. They can hold large quantities of data.

Hard disk drives use random/direct access to locate data stored on the disk.





18 in Kickin Technology Series: Hard and Floppy Disks. Hard Disks the most common backing storage device - not to be confused with memory!


5. Display Screens. From Gaming to Design

2. Floppy Disk

TFT Screen

4. Digital Still Cameras. So common they are included in phones.

Floppy disks are disks of plastic coated in magnetic material and enclosed in a hard plastic case. The read/write area is covered by a sliding metal flap.

Although, they used to be very common, as they were a convenient way of transporting files from one computer to another, they not much used anymore.


Floppy Disk Drive.


Floppy disks are written to and read from, through the use of separate floppy disk drives.

Floppy disks are less popular than they have been because :-




3. Zip Drive or Superdisks

CRT Monitors

Are very similar to floppy disks. Again they are plastic discs coated with magnetic material. The difference between them is that zip disks can store much more. The one shown stores 100MB and you can get them up to 250MB.



12. Printers. Comparing Laser with Inkjet Printers
zip disk drive



Like Floppy disks, zip disks need a specialised zip drive to read and write to the disk.




4. Magnetic Tape

Magenetic Tape

Made of a long plastic strip coated with magnetic material, tape is mostly used for making backups. It can store lots of data, but this data is slower to access, because of having to wind through to the information you need slows down he access time. This makes it impractical for use as main storage

One great advantage of magnetic tape is its cheapness.


Cheap Magnetic  Tape


Magnetic tape uses sequential or serial access to locate data stored on the tape.





10. Graphics Card. Essential to see things clearly and smoothly

Kickin Technology Top Twenty 13. Random/Direct Versus Serial Access. Which is the fastest way of accessing data?




What you have to do!

Watch the videos above and in your Word document or your Brain complete the following exercises.

  1. Provide three advantages to using hard disks as a backing storage device.

  2. Why are floppy disks no longer so widely used?

  3. Provide an example of backing storage that uses sequential access to data.

  4. Explain the difference between random/direct access and sequential access



What you should be able to do!

  1. Provide four examples of Magnetic Type Backing Storage devices.

  2. Explain why hard disks are so popular as a backing storage device.

  3. Describe why magnetic tape is used for making backups.

  4. Describe the difference between Random Access and Serial Access to the data


Continue to 10. Optical Storage: CD's, DVD's etc






Exam Clock


Computer Systems


Home | S1 Topics | S2 Topics
Computing Standard Grade | Info Systems Intermediate II | Info Systems Higher | Internet Safety
Log into Glow | School Website | Contact Us