What are all these different drives? Probably the easiest way to explain it would be to define each of them:
- Hard Drive - A hard drive is a fast, high capacity internal disk drive found in all modern PCs. Unless the computer is older than say, 12 years, it should have a hard drive in it. Any PC running Windows does.
The reason for having a hard drive is to give you a permanent place to keep your computer's information. They are generally much more reliable than keeping your data on a floppy disk (that's not to say you shouldn't back up your info though), are much faster, and hold tons more.
Adding a second hard drive is a great way to add more space for files. They are available as both internal or external.
- Floppy Drive - These little 3.5" disks hold about 1.4 MB of information. It seems like just yesterday that floppy disks ruled the planet, but now with the cheap price of CD-Rs and CD-R drives, the floppy drive is being put to pasture. Most new computers don't even have one.
- Zip Drive - A zip drive is basically a floppy drive on steroids. The disks work in the same manner as a regular 3.5" floppy disk, except they can store up to 100 MB. A 3.5 floppy can only store 1.4MB.
In case you're wondering, no, you can't stick a zip disk into your 3.5" floppy drive and expect it to work. In fact, you would have to insert it with the assistance of a hammer. If you wanna use Zip disks, you'll need a Zip drive.
Oh, and Zip drive should not be confused with Zip files!
- CD-R- A CD-R is a writeable CD, meaning you can record data to the CD. Works just like a regular CD ROM drive otherwise. Although you can add data to a CD-R, you can't delete data from it. Once it's there, it's there. Most CDs hold 675 meg of info.
- CD-RW- Same as a CD-R except you can re-write the CD. So, you can remove old files, and add new ones if you like. The only disadvantage to this over the CD-R is the disks are generally more expensive.
- DVD-R/+R - As DVD recording comes of age and the prices come down, more of us will likely be adding DVD writers to our computers. If adding a DVD writer to your computer, I would suggest getting one that writes to both DVD+R and DVD-R disks.
- USB Drive- Also known as a thumb drive, key drive, pen drive or flash drive. These handy little things plug right into your USB port and come in many sizes.
- Card Reader- If you have a memory card reader for you Compact Flash, Smart Media, or other camera card it is technically a drive. These are beginning to appear as standard in some new computers, but you can also get external ones. They really make transferring pictures from the digital camera easier.
- Digital Audio Player- We go more into detail about these elsewhere, but in this context consider your player an external hard drive.
I hope this helps clear things up.