The Evolution of Electronic Storage (according to me!)

Do you remember floppy disks?

Thin, plastic squares that you slotted into your vintage Windows 95 desktop?

No?

Let’s face it, technology evolves so fast that it’s no wonder we feel old that we remember the likes of audio cassettes and tape recorders. Is it safe to say that children born in the 21st century have arrived at the peak of technological advancements? Of course not. When they’re in their 20s and 30s, the likes of MP3 players and smartphones will more than likely be old hat compared to what awaits us in the not-to-distant future. I still hold out hope for hover bikes! floppy_disc

So back to floppy disks, which are sadly up on the shelf with video tapes and Walkmans. They are considered ‘retro’ or ‘old-fashioned’ (I think retro sounds better) to those old enough to remember them. That’s right, I said OLD. Let’s face it, today’s generation would not know what to do with a floppy disk if you handed it to them, let alone guess that it was what 80s and, to some extent, 90s babies used to save important documents onto from their computers. Cue the laughter of not just disbelief, but of pity also.

‘That wouldn’t fit into my MacBook Air!’

To me, floppy disks had their benefits, the biggest being that you get to write your name on the handy little labels you got when you purchased a box of five or ten, and ever so neatly stick them onto the disk. And we all played with that steel flap in spite of the widespread myth that snapping it back and forth would wipe the data on the disk. It was the little things, really. Floppy disks were what I used in secondary school and, at the time, that was the norm. (I can already hear my mother’s voice: ‘we didn’t even have computers in school!’)

On today’s school book lists you will more than likely find a USB key with a minimum storage of 2GB typed. I didn’t encounter this new storage gadget until I began my third level education back in 2006 (I used the term ‘old’, right?). They were much smaller than a floppy disk, but still in their infancy at this stage. €15 – €20 would get you 128MB (do they still make things in megabytes?). There was quite a big turnover of USB keys in my class alone throughout the course. This was due to some genius starting a trend that allowed the computer tower, where the USB slots in, to be placed on the floor rather than the desk. You can see where this is going, right? Unlike floppy disks, USBs don’t insert fully into the computer tower, only partially, therefore: USB + knee = BROKEN! Or, in my case, bent sideways but still fully operational.images

By the time I finished college in 2010, I figured data storage had reached its peak, for students anyway. Three years later, in 2013, I decided to re-enter the world of third level education, armed with an 8GB USB key, which cost less than my bent 128GB pal from my first college stint. Technologically I was ready, but…wait, what’s this?

Dropbox?

Dropbox. Now this was something altogether different. There was no hardware involved, excluding the computer that is, and it can be accessed anywhere on any device, phones and tablets included. Remarkable was the only way I could describe it. Surely there’s a catch? No cat- Stop! Yes, yes there is. Once you’ve used up your complimentary 2GB of storage, you are required to pay for more. Fine, I thought, I’ll make a once-off payment and add some extra space, right? Wrong! Monthly payments are required to gain extra space, on Dropbox at least, and they’re quite costly at that. Hello! Student here, society expects me to be poor. I got around it though, once an important document was no longer important, out it went. And now that I’m finished college (again!), I simply use it to back up my photographs from my smart phone.

What will you do once they fill up your Dropbox, you ask?

Do they make USB keys in terabytes yet? Continue reading