External Storage Devices

When you buy a computer, it might not have as much space as you would like, especially if you like to take photos and record movies--something more and more common, now that many cell phones have 5 MP+ cameras and HD video cameras built in.

When the computer maker and/or the store put your computer on sale, they wanted to keep the price down. Any element that could be kept low was probably made low in order to reduce the price. They probably decided on 2 GB of RAM instead of 4 GB, for example. But the HDD is another place to save money. Internal HDDs 1 TB in size cost only about ¥5,000 nowadays; but if they give you a 500 GB HDD, they can shave more than ¥1,000 off the price of the computer.

As a result, you may not have enough space on your computer, which means that you will have to turn to external storage--that is, peripheral drives.

Hard Disk Drives

HDDs tend to be the most popular for external storage, because they are so easy to use. Just plug in the power cable, attach the HDD to your computer with a USB cable, and then turn it on. Your computer should "see" the HDD in a few seconds, and now you have more storage space!

External HHD space is cheap these days, also; 1 TB external drives begin at ¥8,000; 2 TB drives begin at ¥14,000. When you think that 8 GB USB Flash drives usually begin around ¥2,000, getting a Terabyte--125 times as much space--for four times that cost makes a lot of sense.

Optical Drives

HDDs, however, are not the best idea for long-term storage. After several years of use, they can break down and lose all of the data you stored on them. If you want to keep your college notes in storage until your children are old enough to look at them, then optical storage would make a bit more sense.

CDs are cheap and easy to use; the problem is, they're small. One CD might not even hold a single HD movie you recorded on your cell phone. CD burners and media are best for storing text and other non-image documents.

DVDs are the optical drives of choice these days. DVD discs are cheap--about 20 yen per disc if you buy them in a 100-disc packageoptical disks bought in numbers greater than 20 usually come in a "spindle". That comes out to about 220 MB per yen, as compared to about 125 MB per yen for a HDD. So, it is cheaper and lasts longer.

The problems, however, are that it takes a lot longer to "burn" the data onto the DVD, and DVDs save about 4.4 GB of data per disc, so you'll have to use a few hundred DVDs to save a Terabyte of data. That would be a lot of trouble, if you're trying to save that much.

The next step up are Blu-ray drives. External Blu-ray burners begin at about ¥16,000, about 4 times more expensive that DVD burners. However, these drives can save up to 50 GB of data each, more than 10 x what DVD-Rs can save. It may be slow to record, but you can put a lot on the disc.


Just remember, when new technology comes along and old technology goes away, you have to remember to transfer all the data to the new medium! Your parents probably have a lot of music on old cassette tapes, and video on VHS. It is getting harder and harder to find machines that can play these formats. It's not time for CDs or DVDs to go away, not for many years--but someday, it will happen!