Types of Computer Drives

Welcome to a tutorial and list of the many forms of computer drives – Floppy drives, hard discs, optical drives, flash cards, and network drives. Computers have advanced in terms of storage media and technology considerably throughout the years. How many are there and which is which? Continue reading to find out!

Let’s look at what a drive is first.

What is a Drive?

A drive of any kind is the computer’s way of reading and writing files. The drive can be a physical disk like a floppy disc, hard drive (HDD), CD-ROM (CD), DVD, etc., or it can also be an external device that plugs into the computer through USB or Firewire. A network drive may also be a drive because it is also used to read and write files. However, the network drive is usually part of a Network Attached Storage (NAS) or RAID storage device that is then attached to the network and shared out by the network server.

Types of computer drives

There are a lot of different drives that PCs have. For example, there is a floppy drive that allows you to read and write files onto a Floppy Disk. A hard disk drive (HDD) reads and writes files onto the HDD it self, which may be removable from the computer or not. Optical discs such as DVDs and CDs are forms of drives that are able to read multiple files on them by being “read” by the drive. USB flash memory sticks and external hard disks (EHD) are also forms of drives because, like CD-ROMs, they allow you to read and write files onto them. A network drive is another type of drive because it allows remote access to a shared file on a network server by being attached to the computer through Ethernet or wireless networking.

Let’s take a look at each one.


In the days before mobile devices became widespread, floppy drives were the most popular external storage option. For those of you unfamiliar with floppy disks, they’re basically a “magnetic paper” encased in plastic… Floppy drives were once the standard external storage device.


The XT was an instant hit in the 1980s and early 1990s, largely due to its revolutionary floppy drives. Floppy drives are widely used in the computer industry, and it comes in three distinct varieties – The ancient 8″ floppy drive, the vintage 5.25″ floppy drive, and the older 3.25″ floppy drive are examples of this sort of media storage. Of course, these are relics of the past that are kept by collectors as part of a museum exhibit now.


The Bernoulli Drive (or, more accurately, the Iomega Bernoulli Box) was created in the 1980s and is a “god-level” storage device in cyber ancient times. Each of these Bernoulli discs can store approximately 10 times as much data as a regular floppy disk. So it’s like… A holy grail of data storage. The Bernoulli Box was basically the Apple iPod of the 1980s and 1990s.


In 1994, Iomega introduced the Zip Drive, which supplanted the Bernoulli Drive and added more storage space to my collection. The Zip Drive became a hit, but soon after it was overtaken by writable compact discs (CDR). The disc has become the standard for portable recordable storage.

In 1980, Jaz Drive was created by Iomega. It is a type of disk that could store up to 100 MB. Later in 1991, continuing with the Jaz Drive concept, the BernoulliT~Drive was introduced which stored 1 GB of data on a single removable cartridge. The ingenious system consisted of a sapphire pad mounted on a spring-loaded spindle. The disk was clamped against the pad and then dragged by its hub across it. At that point, Bernoulli’s principle took effect: the fast-moving air stream below the spinning disk creates an area of low pressure around it which sucks up and holds tightly to the clamping pad. The disk is held fast by the pad while it whizzes across – and then released into the drive when the pressure under the clamping mechanism builds up.


The Zip Drive is a rival to the Zip, but it isn’t very popular. The production of CDR and SuperDisk drives came to an end in 2003 after Sony bought out its manufacturer, Compudata.


The long-term data storage on a personal computer is most often provided by hard disk drives, which are the most durable devices in the history of computer storage.

The concept of a hard disk drive is a little bit older than the personal computer itself. In 1955 IBM filed a patent for a magnetic storage device that would be used in their RAMAC 305 system. Since then, there have been many advancements to this type of data storage device and it’s now considered must-have equipment for any modern PC.

A hard disk drive is basically a non-volatile storage device that works with the help of one or more rapidly rotating disks (platters) that are covered in the magnetic material. Data is encoded by magnetizing certain spots on the platters, which represent binary 1s and 0s.


Hard disks use magnetic platters and read/write heads to store data. This is why we refer to it as a mechanical hard disk because it involves the movement of numerous components. Even though the connections and technologies of hard disks (PATA, SCSI, SATA) have altered over time, 3.5″ and 2.5″ hard drives have withstood the test of time and even evolved into “external hard disks,” despite the fact that their form factors (9.5 mm height; 1 or more widths;

Magnetic disk drives are used to store and retrieve digital data using rotating magnetic disks that are divided into many circular tracks (which can be thought of as thin rings) and subdivided by interconnecting arms/heads that the disk surface sweeps past over the stationary read/write head.


Solid-state drives (SSDs) are data storage devices that use solid-state memory to store persistent data and may be considered a form of nonvolatile storage, as opposed to hard drives which contain spinning disks and movable read/write heads. Compared with electromechanical (e.g., traditional hard-disk drives or “HDDs”), SSDs are typically more resistant to physical shock, run silently, have lower access time, and less latency. However, while the price per gigabyte of SSDs is currently about 10 times that of HDDs, they are replacing them in many applications because they are typically both smaller and lighter, and because access time is no longer much of an issue given the current data transfer rate – on a per-gigabyte basis, SSDs are far faster than HDDs. In fact, with their extremely fast seek times, SSDs often have overall better performance than HDDs.

7. M.2 SSD

The M.2 SSD is still a solid-state drive, but the form factor has changed. The battle for smaller and thinner gadgets continues. A typical M.2 SSD measures about the size of a piece of gum. It’s thin and has no moving parts thanks to an onboard controller. This is why they are also sometimes called “gum sticks.”

A typical M.2 SSD fits into a laptop, PC or tablet via a new connector type: the M.2 socket. Imagine it as a 2mm x 30mm slot that often gets installed behind the battery. Some small laptops may have the socket built-in to the motherboard (see our Asus Transformer T100 review). It can also be installed on a PCI Express card or another accessory, but those are rare. The M.2 connector is also notched for another type of SSD called NGFF (next-generation form factor), which is slightly larger at about 30mm x 120mm.


Magnetic technologies are used to store data on floppy drives and hard disks. Light, on the other hand, is used in optical drives to preserve information. Optical devices use laser beams to record, read, and erase information.

Optical discs are used to store larger quantities of data for long periods of time. The most common type of optical device is the CD-ROM drive. Compact discs are often used in PCs or other types of computers. They can encode up to 700MB of information on their surfaces.


An Optical Disk Drive (ODD) is an electro-mechanical device that can read data from a compact disk (CD), digital versatile disk (DVD), or other optical storage media. ODDs are available in the form of internal or external drives for computers, with most newer laptops having an integrated drive. ODDs also come as standalone devices that can be attached to a home theater system or DVD player, as well as in standalone devices.

In addition to their hardware components, ODDs may also have software components as part of a broader Digital Rights Management system.

Types Of Optical Disks

1) CD

A compact disk (CD) is a small, portable format that can contain digital data. CDs are used to distribute music, video games for consoles such as the PlayStation or Xbox, software, and movies. DVDs are similar to CDs in appearance, but provide more storage capacity. This allows them to store more data than their counterpart disks.

2) DVD

A DVD is a digital optical disk storage format. DVDs are the same physical size as compact disks (CDs), but store over six times more data—which translates into higher-quality video and audio, making them extremely popular for watching movies in HD formats. However, because of their larger size, DVDs require a larger drive, which won’t fit into a CD drive bay on a standard computer.

3) BD

A Blu-ray disk (BD), or Blu-ray Disc (BD), is an optical disc storage medium designed by the Blu-ray Disc Association. The standard allows up to 25 GB per layer for HD content, more than six times the capacity of standard DVDs. It’s able to hold about five times more data than a DVD.

4) UDO

A Universal Data Object (UDO), or Ultraviolet Optical Disk, is a 12 cm optical storage disc that can store up to 500 GB of data for playback on any Blu-ray compatible device. The technology was developed by Philips and Sony and introduced in 2007.

5) HVD

A High-Definition Versatile Disc (HVD) is a standard for optical discs that was created by the DVD Forum, a group of consumer electronics companies, to improve on previous common standards such as DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW. The standard allows for storage of up to 27 GB on a single-sided disc and 54 GB on a dual-layer disc.

6) FMD

A Floppy Multilayer Disc (FMD) is a multilayer optical disc developed by Sony for use in the PlayStation 2 video game console. It’s an alternative to the PlayStation’s proprietary DVD format that was introduced in 1998. The discs, which were co-developed with Panasonic, can hold up to 1 GB of data on a single side and 2 GB on a dual-layer disc. [source: wikipedia]

7) NFD

Nanoscale Formatted Disk (NFD) was an experimental high storage density optical disk format developed by Panasonic as a potential successor to the DVD format. Development of this format ended in 2007.

8) ODC

Optical Disk Cartridge, or ODC, is a term used by Sony to refer to 3-inch writable CDs that are enclosed in cartridges. These cartridges protect the CD from scratches and fingerprints during handling. They are typically used in professional situations, such as making backup copies of music or software. [source: wikipedia]

9) COF

A Cartridge On Film (COF), also known as film cartridge system (FCS), is an optical disc storage technology introduced by Kodak in 1982. A COF can hold 20 MB of data, which is about 11⁄2 minutes of audio or 1 minute of video. [source: wikipedia]

10) CR-ROM

A Compact disc-read-only memory (CR-ROM) is a standard CD that contains data for use on personal computers. It’s designed to be read by drives compatible with compact discs, but it can’t be written to or played on a normal CD player.


The information age ushered in a slew of new choices for network storage, along with the wireless technology revolution. NETWORK DRIVES are designed with corporate-level security in mind to protect confidential information, prevent data leaks and minimize downtime.

Since there are different types of network drives each with its own pros and cons, let’s take a look at the most common features you should be looking for when buying them:

1) Security – You might not think that your information needs top-notch security, but hackers are much better at cracking into computer systems these days. Ransomware is now considered one of the top ten cyber threats out there today.

2) Performance – File transfer speeds over the network should be fast enough to make copying or backing up data easy and quick.

3) Reliability – You don’t want to invest in expensive hardware only to find out that it crashes every time you use it; or worse, is not stable.

4) Minimum downtime – You don’t want your backups and data transfers to stop because of technical issues.

5) Ease of setup – It should be simple enough for anyone to set up, without having the need to be a computer whiz.

6) Easy to access – You should be able to connect via different platforms and operating systems, without going through many hassles or being limited in any way.

7) Shared storage – This is where you can add more hard drives to expand your storage capacity when it becomes full.

8) Compatibility with media and software – You can’t use network drives that aren’t compatible with your devices and operating system.


A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device is an additional storage drive that allows you to create your own cloud for your private data. It uses the network to connect different devices together; therefore, it can be accessed from any computer on the network. The NAS device acts as a file server for all devices on your home or small office network, using Ethernet cables and Wireless connections to connect your computers together.

A Network Attached Storage Device can be used for personal use such as backing up files onto the cloud, but it is mostly meant for organizations and corporations. The NAS can be used as a server for all sorts of office purposes such as sharing files with your team, data storage, online file collaboration, and maintaining security over the information shared between employees.


They’re basically remote servers that house files and information, which you can use in your applications. You’ll need to connect or “mount” these remote directories on your computer with the help of an application, so they work like your computer’s internal hard drive. Then, when you save anything to it—a file, an image, some data—the application saves it to that remote directory. Subsequently, you can then open the file from a different device at a later time and see the same changes you would have seen if you worked on a local computer.

There are several popular choices:

Google Drive , Dropbox , OneDrive , and Box .


Misc. Drives are a wide variety of hard drives that typically don’t belong in any one computer, but instead are “tweaked” to meet certain requirements of the owner. For example, you could have a USB Hard drive tweaked for maximum storage capacity at a cheap price, or perhaps you’d prefer a small form factor solid-state drive, or maybe you want something RAID capable. There are just too many possibilities to list here.


A virtual hard disk (VHD) is a file that contains all of the data on your computer’s physical hard drive and can be used for storage, but since it is memory, the read/write speed is incredibly quick. Of course, because it is memory, when you shut down or restart the computer, the data in this virtual drive will

A Virtual Drive is a file containing a list of instructions to emulate a specific CD drive, including its GUID. Tip: if you have problems with the emulation, delete all virtual drives and let them be created again. If it still doesn’t work, try this tutorial from MSFN. Here’s what we need: qemu-img.exe: for creating virtual drives. qemu-nbd.exe or ncqemu.exe or any other utility for emulating a CD drive with a .iso image of the desired game installed. This method works with virtually every game, even games where the emulator complains of more than 3 CD drives found (in which case you need to add a virtual drive more).


A USB Flash drive is also known as a key, thumb drive, jump, or USB stick. It is a portable data storage device that can easily be plugged into the USB port of any computer to transfer and carry your data such as your documents, pictures, music, and videos. This article shows you how to create a bootable USB flash drive in windows.


A tape drive is a disk storage device that uses magnetic tape to store data. The tape is pulled through a mechanism in order to read or write data to the tape, which may be uncompressed or compressed. Tape drives have been available for over 50 years and are used for offline, archival data storage.