Poll: The dominant removable storage medium in 2014

Floppy drives took years to disappear from pre-built PCs. These days, optical drives are starting to fade from many machines, especially laptops of the ultraportable variety. Unless they want to watch a good DVD, users seem more content shuffling data around on USB thumb drives, SD cards, and through the Internet.

That’s gotten us thinking. Let’s fast forward five years to 2014—what type of removable storage will be the most popular then? TR editors put their money on SD cards and "the cloud," but we’re curious to see what our readers think. Good thing we have that nice poll area on our front page! We’ve updated it with a slightly differently formulated version of the same question, and you can go ahead and vote now. Alternatively, just scroll down and cast your vote here; it’ll be counted the same way.

Before we move on, we should observe a minute of silence in memory of our previous poll. It departed from our front page just 94 votes shy of 6,000, having given TR readers an avenue to express their most sought-after product or development this year. The two most favored options were price cuts and Windows 7, but DirectX 11 graphics processors and beer were almost as popular. Surprisingly, though, not too many folks are all that hyped up about Lynnfield or Windows 7 ultraportables.

Comments closed
    • jstern
    • 10 years ago

    After 1st commenting on this poll a couple of years ago, I’ve found that internet storage is very convenient for storing many gigabytes of the files that I use every once in a while, and mainly take up a lot of space in my computer. For someone like me, it’s very useful.

    • shaq_mobile
    • 10 years ago

    isnt cheese supposed to be one of the options?

    • ub3r
    • 10 years ago

    penis drives. you insert your penis into a slot, and inject all the data you need to.

    • yogibbear
    • 10 years ago

    Where’s the option for the microscopic capsule injected into my hand?

    • Palek
    • 10 years ago

    One more vote for SD. microSD has taken over nearly 100% of the mobile phone market here in Japan. I believe most digital camera manufacturers have sided with SD as well. A lot of notebooks now come standard with SD slots, it won’t be long before SD slots/readers become a baseline feature on all PCs.

    With the upcoming SDXC cards capable of over 50MB/s transfer rates, we may even see low-cost netbooks that use SD cards as internal/boot drives instead of cheap SSDs.

    • AmishRakeFight
    • 10 years ago

    zip drives?

    • Kougar
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t see memory cards surplanting USB flash drives at all without some major shifting in the industry. Memory cards cost significantly more than USB flash drives in the same capacities, and while every computer has a USB port many do not have memory card readers. Especially amongst computers used at work.

    I’ve watched USB flash drives take over while in college, Professors went from using floppies (had one Prof require a floppy (!)) and DVDs to flash drives. Everyone including the students that wouldn’t know what a CPU was carries them now.

    Memory cards also are not a unified format… SD, miniSD, microSD, xHD, memory sticks, compact flash, M2, “SDHC”…. there is nothing simple about that. Sure a laptop comes with an SD card slot, but then my camera only uses compactflash and my mp3 player only uses microSD cards. And lets not even get into “HC” cards that don’t always work in all devices. This is the biggest reason I don’t see memory cards replacing USB flash drives.

    • swaaye
    • 10 years ago

    As crazy as it seems to me, I think most people will be using online storage in the future. They already love to tell the world all of their personal info on Facebook et al. They’re already storing their music, photos, documents in various online services. Movies and TV shows are moving to various streaming sites so storage of them may becoming uninteresting in general.

    USB sticks are awesome for me and a lot of people, but they are not dominant. Optical disks are done for beyond movies and software installs, I think.

    • stmok
    • 10 years ago

    …Its one of the memory based solutions.

    No way in hell would I trust a cloud based solution!

    • StashTheVampede
    • 10 years ago

    I’d be VERY surprised of the “next gen” consoles don’t use this physical medium for the games you buy in stores. Same physical connector can give you a significant amount of storage. We have 64/128GB versions for very cheap and the cost will only continue to go down.

    • psyclone
    • 10 years ago

    I’m not sticking ANYTHING that I consider either very personal or financially significant in THE CLOUD. And for those that think that this is a good thing to do then I’ll forward some Nigerian emails to you.

    I trust neither big govt. nor big business with keeping my confidences.

      • KinCT
      • 10 years ago

      I could not agree more. What a laugh. Yeah, let me stick my Turbo Tax files out on the internet. No thanks.

      I’ll keep personal files within the confines of my own control.

      The companies offering you “eternal” storage can go belly up. That’s not to mention hackers and other malcontents.

    • JdL
    • 10 years ago

    I’m surprised so many people think that USB is still going to be around in 2014.

    With the ‘cloud’ and distributed storage getting cheaper and cheaper, it’s not likely that people / individuals will be carrying anything physically with them any more.

    Check this action out: §[< http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/<]§

      • sydbot
      • 10 years ago

      Backwards compatible USB3?

      • TheBob!
      • 10 years ago

      It is going to be years before USB 3.0, eSata, or any other port like that is going to take over. Hell you can still get USB 1 devices.

        • SGT Lindy
        • 10 years ago

        USB 3.0 will start coming on on new computers. USB 3.0 devices will follow soon after.

        USB 3.0 devices will work with USB 1.1 computers and vise/versa, just slower.

        The cloud is still a joke in 2014. Sure more stuff will be there, lots more. But when I need to copy three ripped BD each at 20gig a piece, there is NO WAY the cloud is going to work, primarily because of the connection between my computer and the cloud, network pipe. Sure Cable and DSL will probably offer 10meg min pipes then, but max out at 100meg for the lucky. Most of us will be at 10-20meg. Its only 4.5 years from now, not 40. You ever try to copy 60gig over a 10meg pipe? Even at 100meg its slow.

        USB thumb drives will probably hold between 32gig – 128gig 4.5 years from now in the same size and price they are today.

          • swaaye
          • 10 years ago

          I’m not sure that the average person rips BDs or needs to move 20GB of data very often. Think more along the lines of music, small archives, photos, and documents.

          • JdL
          • 10 years ago

          We are talking about the ‘dominant’ removable storage medium. Not fringe cases such as yours.

          The vast majority of email (yahoo, gmail, aol, hotmail), music (pandora), video (hulu, youtube, vimeo), photos (flickr, photoshop.com, facebook), and documents (office live, google docs, zoho) are already online.

          Even gaming is now being taken online, thanks to Valve’s Steam and the forthcoming browser-based games such as Quake Live and Battlefield Heroes.

          Seriously, who needs local storage devices any more?

            • Palek
            • 10 years ago

            Some people like yourself may consider online storage acceptable for private use with the aim of portability. You can bet, though, that the vast majority thinks it is much simpler an much more convenient to carry a small USB thumbdrive on a keychain or an SD card in the coin pocket of a wallet/purse. As for professional use, it will be many-many-many years before any corporation allows their highly sensitive documents to be stored in the “cloud”.

            Games being taken online? Well, you still need local storage for Steam. It downloads all the game data onto your PC. Online is just the delivery method in this case. Browser-based games may be halfway there, but they still stream all the game data to your hard drive before (or during) gameplay.

            On to your last question. Why would anyone would need local storage these days? Here’s an example why – and don’t call me a fringe case, you specifically said *[

            • travbrad
            • 10 years ago

            /[<"Do you honestly think there is a service out there that will provide that much online storage, with fast, low-latency access, at a reasonable running cost (that is, dirt cheap)?"<]/ I would also add "reliable" to that list. I've used a couple online backup services (mainly just to try them out) and both of them were eventually shut down. It wasn't a problem because I had copies on my HDD and on my iPod/thumb drives, but those services I used completely failed as a backup service. My HDDs and USB flash drives were much more reliable. I'm sure there are some reliable online backup solutions out there but the problem for me is still speed. The average internet connection out there just can't handle a lot of data, especially the uploading. I have a 10/2mbit connection, which is actually a lot faster than what many people have. Yet it still takes over an hour to upload just 1GB of data. Whereas a USB flash drive (or even DVD-RW for that matter) takes maybe a minute or two. Online backup can work for smaller files, but it's undoable for larger files with our current internet connections. To top it off, some ISPs are now placing bandwidth caps on connections. With all the video streaming and music/game downloads already going on, an online backup may be enough to push you over that cap.

            • JdL
            • 10 years ago

            I wrote ‘local’ when I meant ‘physical’, intending to stick with the subject of ‘portable’ storage. I mistyped and I apologize for the confusion.

            For ‘local’ archive data such as photos, video, etc. — essentially stuff still in the pre-sharing or archive phase, I completely agree. Local storage for that use will probably not go away for a long time.

            Also, local storage for the use of a ‘buffer’ or install space (e.g. downloaded Steam game) will not leave us either.

            That said, for the purposes of portability I feel that the ‘vast majority’ you refer to is actually on my side. Look at the sheer number of Yahoo, Facebook, and Google users who daily upload photos to share with their friends. When they’re at a friend’s house, are they pulling out a thumb drive to show their friend last year’s wedding pics? Nope. They whip out their iPhone and pull up the Facebook app — the latest 3.02 version — and immediately go straight to their photo albums.

            I’ve got friends who are using the latest FB app as a contact list.

            • Palek
            • 10 years ago

            q[

          • indeego
          • 10 years ago

          “USB thumb drives will probably hold between 32gig – 128gig 4.5 years from now in the same size and price they are today.”

          Add a zero to your sizes, and I think you would be accurateg{<.<}g

          • jstern
          • 10 years ago

          Funny, that’s how much they hold now. There’s even 256gb one I think. That’s now in 2009, not 2014.

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      Only a madly naïve person trusts vague corporate 3rd parties with their personal data.

    • Beomagi
    • 10 years ago

    This isn’t an apple idea. Most notebooks and netbooks have been coming with sd slots for years. So apple’s decision should be looked at as going without an optical drive, rather than going with SD.

    • wingless
    • 10 years ago

    What about eSATA SSD thumb drives?

      • AlvinTheNerd
      • 10 years ago

      eSata isn’t self powered, so you have to have another power source. Not really convenient for portable storage.

      I could see a poweredSata standard if it weren’t for USB 3.0

        • derFunkenstein
        • 10 years ago

        There’s supposed to be an eSATA revision that delivers power very soon, and within 5 years it could very well be the de facto standard – i doubt it though.

    • winguy
    • 10 years ago

    #32, I agree thumb drives are the clear winner, also their speed will increase based on USB 3.0 start in 2010 or later this year.

      • zima
      • 10 years ago

      Don’t count on speed improvements much – vast majority of current USB 2.0 thumb drives don’t come close to saturating even their “slow” interface.

        • sigher
        • 10 years ago

        because it’s not economically viable to use a complex controller and parallelism when the top you can reach is only USB2, people won’t pay top dollar for that max, it’s more effective to be as cheap as possible, but when it works to do an effort then they will, that’s why makers of controllers are already testing ones designed for USB3 products.

    • Tamale
    • 10 years ago

    Internet for documents and other smaller files, SD cards and thumb drives (I consider them in the same category, just need a card reader) for multimedia.

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      You trust the internet with your personal documents? Who? Google? hah I guess you have no concept of the word personal.

    • KoolAidMan
    • 10 years ago

    SD cards are a strong candidate. Apple making SD card slots standard in Macbooks was a big sign to me. I won’t be surprised if they eventually release a version with only an SD card slot (maybe a revised Macbook Air), and distribute their own software via SD card as an option.

    The benefits are huge considering Apple’s design goals with their notebooks, which are reduced power consumption, smaller size, and lighter weight. Axing an optical drive means no moving parts and a huge internal component gone. I would consider the move from a DVD drive to SD cards as an upgrade since SD cards give you easy rewritability, higher capacity, and significantly faster read/write speeds. The only thing you would miss out on is watching movies on DVD, but for that Apple could always sell the external DVD drive that they do now. There’s also the fact that movie downloads are getting more popular, so DVD playback may no longer be as big a factor in a few years.

    Either way, a Macbook Pro with only an SD card slot would be better than a Macbook Air since it would also be very light and very slim, all without compromising on speed or display size. If Apple went through with this I would not be surprised to see other notebook manufacturers follow with their own high power notebooks minus DVD drive.

    Either way, DVD’s days are numbered; flash memory is just getting too cheap and has way too many advantages.

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      SD cards seem a bit fragile compared to USB sticks, and easy to lose.

    • Fighterpilot
    • 10 years ago

    You can’t manipulate a large contiguous file when its “in the cloud” so its gonna have to be downloaded….yawn….and uploaded(preferably by someone else).
    How are you going to fast forward a movie when its streaming down?….you can’t…you’d have to download the whole thing first.
    I have 9GB of music that would be a pain to upload or download even with a 50Mbps connection.
    For applications it might be fine but I don’t see it being efficient for storage purposes unless it in small easily downloaded files.
    Better Flash memory with off current stability seems likely to be popular over the next 5 year period.
    Perpendicular arrangement of mechanical hard drive data ushered in a big increase in available storage capacity just a few years ago,perhaps a similar breakthrough will even further expand their storage capabilities?

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      Good point about the issues with the cloud nonsense, not even apple can get apple users massively buy into clouds I bet.

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 10 years ago

    I certainly hope CD/DVD/BR continues in mainstream read-only usage. Its simple, physical media which won’t get a virus on it or otherwise wear out unless abused. I like stacks of disks. I do not want to download my media.

    • agawtrip
    • 10 years ago

    for me the question is a little bit tricky

    The dominant removable storage medium in 2014.

    in 2014 exactly?

    or should it be 2010 to 2014?

      • sigher
      • 10 years ago

      It’s damn simple but I’ll rephrase it for you if I may:
      You wait till it’s september 2014, then you do a review of the figures to see what’s most used, what will the outcome be you think?

    • Buzzard44
    • 10 years ago

    punch cards are not an efficient storage medium
    they have horrible storage capacity and are big and bulky
    they can’t be rewritten and have slow reads/writes

    what’s wrong with ~7% of you?

      • GFC
      • 10 years ago

      Future is just forgotten past. You’ll get used to punch cards soon. They’re taking over the world!!

      • Mourmain
      • 10 years ago

      Get off our lawns!

      • PeterD
      • 10 years ago

      Big cars are not an efficient transportation system
      They need lots of storage capacity even if they’re only partly used, and they are big and bulky.
      Their size can’t be adjusted to what they’re transporting, and they have slow parking times.

      What’s wrong with all those people buying them?

      • YellaChicken
      • 10 years ago

      whatz rong wit 44birdz???? he eATz tr0ll kitten liek ch33SBurgR3!!…

      …couldn’t resist adding to that, sorry, i’m going away now…

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      Hey! Watch your mouth, youngster! We old timers need our fixes! These cards do that. Not only that, but they are good weapons too. So, you better be watching your back, you hear me, young man!

      Sometimes, taking things slow is better… So, get off the high horse and smell the roses!

      The other 93% of world, need to go back to the stone ages. What a shame! So sad. *bowing head in thought for those lost souls*

    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 10 years ago

    If I was building a new PC I would get the drive

    • albundy
    • 10 years ago

    Great Scott! I predict that storage will be contained in sub atomic particles located infinitely everywhere and anywhere in the universe…until the data becomes self aware. Then you just fart and its deleted.

      • jstern
      • 10 years ago

      Before I came on I was thinking about my Married with Children DVDs, and converting them to ISO to keep in a hard drive and get rid of the DVD clutter. In 2010 I can probably fit 3 seasons worth in a first generation SDXC Card. I do like the box though.

        • albundy
        • 10 years ago

        I was thinking the same, but Sony might be releasing all episodes on Bluray soon…hopefully. This would mean approximately twenty to twenty-five 50gb discs or 260 episodes, 11 seasons.

    • adisor19
    • 10 years ago

    Missing option : Ultraportables.

    Yeah, i went there.

    Adi

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      They’re not “removable storage”.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      Only someone whose brain has been totally warped by the RDF would consider a full computer for portable storage :p

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 10 years ago

    Easy. Cell phones. They should have ample storage by then, and everything should be easily transferred by the fast Bluetooth 3.0. And by then, your phone should allow you to edit and interact with your storage files, if not… shame on you Steve Jobs… or RIP Steve Jobs.

    • PRIME1
    • 10 years ago

    I think we have moved well beyond being tied to just one format.

    Blu-ray will most likely replace DVDs/CDs as they are currently used (disc burning for backups/transfer/etc.). Just has it’s already doing for games/movies. I’ve seen BD writers as low as $130.

    SD for cameras/phones/mp3 players and what not, not so big on computers I suspect. Especially with how easy they are to lose.

    Thumb drives for taking data with you and for quick transfers between computers. I suppose if we are just talking about replacing a floppy and not all these other uses. A thumb drive fits the bill. I have not had a floppy drive in my main computer in at least 6 years or more.

    Cloud…hmm, not so much. With bandwidth caps, pay per download and spotty service I don’t see it taking off.

    Maybe tape drives will make a come back.

      • PeterD
      • 10 years ago

      BR replace dvd/cd? No way!

      I voted “others”.
      We don’t know what the future’s gone bring, but I think some device communicating via USB and with chips instead of a platter has a huge chance.

    • Jambe
    • 10 years ago

    I voted for thumb drives but I think the poll is unnecessarily biased. The dominant storage medium (removable or otherwise) will be flash-based eventually, right? Or will will mechanical drives always be cheaper and have capacity advantages? Assuming flash overtakes mechanical storage, that’s thumb cards, cell phones and SD cards right there.

    Also, as others have pointed out, “the internet” is not removable storage; it might /[

    • Xylker
    • 10 years ago

    Other.

    Whatever technology is fast, cheap, and ubiquitous will win. Right now, that is flash with a nod to the optical media for more uni-tasker scenarios. (Installing an OS, game, app, etc) I know that I am ignoring most of “you.” But my opinion is that outside IT, there are not a lot of folks using ISOs on USB keys to install from…

    What about a RFID media key? Slap it down on the top of the system, underneath, whatever…

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    Now that I think about it there’s something missing from the poll and that’s external 2.5″ USB-powered HDs. They aren’t as cost-effective as DVDs but are more convenient for packing a bunch of data in to one small package and are much more cost-effective than flash. They wouldn’t have done well in the poll but could have been included.

    • designerfx
    • 10 years ago

    the last survey was actually kinda crap. this one is a bit too. maybe you want to ask the questions differently, because I think it kind of implies things. if you had said flash storage, that would be different than usb drives.

    I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, just saying think about the options given.

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    The internet via email and “cloud storage”. Email is probably already the most popular way to transport data. Thumb drives are my second choice. I have a thumb drive, of course, but I don’t much use it; I use email if the files are small enough.

    • jstern
    • 10 years ago

    I chose SD cards, because they will replace optical disks. Meaning that while people might have one usb stick that they take around with them, They will have multiple SD cards where they keep their things in, like 100 movies per card.

    Does anyone know when the 32gb micro sd cards are going to be available? I was expecting them in August. I have a very tiny adapter that allows me to use my micro SD cards as a tiny usb stick, and a credit card size case that I can stick multiple card with the adapter and carry it around in my wallet. I find it better than a UBS stick.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 10 years ago

      I kind of agree. I think its a tie between SD cards and USB sticks. I figure software and media creators will switch to SD cards for distributing their products and content, while USB sticks will stick around fulfilling the same duty they do right now. Practically every OEM pre-built computer I see at Walmart, Target, and the like all have card readers built in (and obviously front panel USB ports as well). So I don’t think the transition would be too difficult.

        • jstern
        • 10 years ago

        The only bad thing about SD cards is that it keeps changing formats, and current adapters and devices are never compatible with future versions. But I don’t think that too much of an issue.

    • blitzy
    • 10 years ago

    If dominance means that more devices are using the technology, then overall I think SD is probably right because so many devices use them for storage (phones, cameras, mp3 players, anything portable that needs more storage…)
    However I also think people are right in seeing USB thumbdrives maintaining strong presence due to their convenience in moving data between computers. The shortcoming of USB is the interface limits it to larger devices like computers and TVs, but SD being about as small as currently practical can fit into things the size of phones all the way up to cars.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 10 years ago

    aren’t thumb drives already the dominant removable media? I don’t know the last time I used a DVD to store stuff…I think it’ll stay the major choice for a few more years. SD cards are too small, at least for me, and I know most folks that I know would not feel safe using their cell to store all their data files.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      You’re right – they are currently the dominant removable media. I think they’re trying to look into the crystal ball to see if they’ll remain that way.

        • sydbot
        • 10 years ago

        If an SD reader gets put into every device starting 3 years ago, then SD maybe. But the nice thing about USB drives is that I can plug it into any computer from 10 years ago, and likely 10 years from now.

    • fantastic
    • 10 years ago

    So, if we already have all of those things (sans Hollerith cards) we must be from the future? I knew it just a matter of spending more money…

    I voted USB thumb drive. My car stereo and my TV have USB jacks now. I haven’t begun to use them, but I was just thinking about buying a thumb drive for the car. 2014 isn’t far off either.

    • Krogoth
    • 10 years ago

    Thumb drivers are the clear winner. They have already replaced floppies. It is from the combination of their small profile, ubiquity of USB interface, now modern motherboards and OS fully support them.

    I find it interesting that people think optical media is slow. Thumb drives and SD cards are usually slower at reads/writes (It is not fault of USB either). Their flash chips were build with capacity in mind not performance. What really kills optical media is that they are either not rewritable or rewritable versions are very cumbersome to use.

    Cyril forgot to put hot-swappable/external HDDs as an option. IMO, they are going to be runner-up to thumb drives.

    Cellphones by themselves will never become popular due to security reasons, performance reasons and practical problem of “placing all your eggs in one basket”.

      • Thresher
      • 10 years ago

      To do this, they need to be much more rugged. I’ve had several of them just stop functioning or lose their format for no known reason. One of them, stopped working for a half year, then I found it worked fine one day. This kind of weirdness just doesn’t make it a solid choice.

        • sydbot
        • 10 years ago

        Not to say I have not experienced USB sticks that have not worked, but my personal stick (1 GB Sandisk Micro, metal body, from 2004) has been in just about every environmental condition (never soaked in water though), lost every plastic cover that came with it (missing one in a parking in NZ somewhere), worn off all logos, dented (likely from car accident) and has never ONCE given me a read/write issue. Data transfers have probably been less than 64 GB, which helps, but otherwise this thing has been 100% reliable.

        Lesson is, it helps to buy a quality part.

        • Bauxite
        • 10 years ago

        Try subjecting a floppy or optical disc to the same kind of daily abuse, I’d be surprised if it lasts a month. Although like another poster suggests, if its for more than casual use you might want to spring just a bit.

        PS, a lot of problems with these can also be attributed to the carbon-based defect of not properly unmounting them, especially in a rush just after sending it a file. Sure, you can tweak this with geek stuff (no write cache = safer) but the defaults have already been set.

        • swaaye
        • 10 years ago

        I’ve had a USB flash stick in my pocket for years. Some of them didn’t even have the end covers anymore. Never had one die. They are way more sturdy than floppies ever were and the capacities are becoming insane.

      • Lazier_Said
      • 10 years ago

      “I find it interesting that people think optical media is slow. Thumb drives and SD cards are usually slower at reads/writes”

      Sequential transfer rates, yeah, DVD at 10-20 MBps flies.

      Putting the disc in, waiting 15 seconds for it to obnoxiously whine up to 5-7000 rpm, running the burning application, writing lead in, writing your data, writing lead out, verifying the disc, that’s about as slow as PC tasks get. And on top of that, atapi errors will freeze up the UI for minutes at a time.

      USB flash devices with polite drag and drop behavior are night and day superior.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      One other downside to optical is that compared to plug n play USB thumb drives there can be too much ‘geek’ behind it for the average person what with different disc layout standards, burn speed choices and other burning options. Heck sometimes there is even basic incompatability with other drives.

        • swaaye
        • 10 years ago

        Most OSs have built in optical disk burning now though and it’s easy as pie assuming you can navigate your way to “write this disc” (or whatever) in the file menu.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          Yes it’s not i[

    • Valhalla926
    • 10 years ago

    Don’t SD cards and USB drives overlap a bit? I think flash memory is a bit more appropriate.

      • jdaven
      • 10 years ago

      Cell phones too. They are just flash memory in a pretty case with some other features.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 10 years ago

        then of course you should count SSDs and cameras and game consoles (such as the current 360 revision and the Wii) with onboard storage.

          • jdaven
          • 10 years ago

          Exactly. Now your getting it.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 10 years ago

            I can’t tell if you’re serious or joking. The latter? I hope?

    • BenBasson
    • 10 years ago

    Is it not USB thumb drives already? Surely nobody is wasting money on CDs and DVDs for pure data transfer purposes? A USB thumb drive would pay for itself after 10 or fewer usages in most cases.

    • lamparalaptopiaguita
    • 10 years ago

    USB drives, hands down

    Internet? Ah, if only.

    Cellphone? HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Bluray? LOL for Sonytards, maybe.

    Optical drive? Slow, fragile, bulky, power draining, noisy, do i need to go on?

    That leaves SD cards. They are good for transfering between tiny cramped products that do not have space for a USB socket. like a camera, etc.

    Altho i chose punch cards. Cmon guys, theyre cool

    • Vasilyfav
    • 10 years ago

    How is the internet a “removable” storage medium? Do you mean cloud computing? That won’t be viable as removable storage media until people will be able to comfortably stream 1080p video on demand and install games from an iso hosted somewhere. In other words it’s a question of bandwidth. Will the average broadband user have 200-300 mbit down/up connection by 2014? I seriously doubt it, but I don’t rule out the possibility of it happening closer to 2020.

    DVDs are dead to me and so is blu-ray. Optical media is cumbersome and scratch prone and the only time I ever have to resort to it is when doing a clean OS install. I plan to start using flash drives instead for that purpose, however.

    SD cards – too easy to lose, but otherwise very comfortable. Almost immune to scratching, very durable and rapidly ramping up in capacities. Possible yes.

    Cell Phones – maybe in your wet dreams Cyril 😛

    USB Thumb Drives – basically an SD card encased in a “harder to lose” envelope, also rapidly ramping up in capacities and speed and with the advent of USB 3.0, I definitely forsee these as the dominant removable storage media. There are already capacities of 256 Gb on a finger-sized device, and if Moore’s law holds correct, we’ll see 1 TB sized flash drives, which is enough to store a huge musical library or a year’s worth of 1080p movies

      • Stranger
      • 10 years ago

      Just curious why do you think you need 200mb/s connections to do that? Between Steam and Netflix I can already do both of those things with my crappy internet connection and its no wear near that fast.

        • Lazier_Said
        • 10 years ago

        Taking two hours to watch a streaming movie is acceptable, taking the same two hours to make a local copy of it is not.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      Why would cell phones not become the dominant form of removable storage?

      There have already been at least 22 million iPhones sold, and any of those is large enough to back up the entire client database and everyone’s documents from the server where I work. All mainstream smart phones have enough capacity to do that.

      As it is, that already makes perfect sense. Lots of people use smart phones for business purposes, and as time goes on, phones in general will become more like computers. Everyone will have all of their stuff saved on there to begin with, because they’ll probably be USING it on their phones.

      Flash is dirt cheap, and cheap phones have become wannabe smart phones. They’ve had built in storage at least for playing MP3s for a long time, and they’ll continue to have increased capacity, just as everything else does.

      “Free” phones could easily have 32GB+ in 2014, and just as most anyone doesn’t need an $8 8GB USB thumb drive for general file transfer now, nobody is going to need that much then.

        • sydbot
        • 10 years ago

        Put a USB plug on a phone and make it readable without a driver and I think we have a winner. Assuming it can read without a battery.

          • mcnabney
          • 10 years ago

          Already there.

          The agreed-upon charging/data connector on most every new device is the micro-USB port.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 10 years ago

    Flash is already less than $1 per GB, and cellphones are on the path to being universally “replaced” with smart phones, which sometimes have a pretty sizable chunk of storage already.

    That is reality as of right now. You guys really think thumb drives will even exist in FIVE years?

    In five years, there’s no reason why cheapo “free” cell phones wouldn’t have more memory than the average USB flash drive does now. No sense in carrying around both.

    • FubbHead
    • 10 years ago

    Ah… So I can *remove* the Internet? 🙂

    • ericf
    • 10 years ago

    how about combinations:

    backup your pc to your cell phone, which has an sd card?

    backup to your pc to the cloud via your tethered smart phone?

    optical storage with indexing on thumb drives?

    optical storage with archive management software on thumb drives?

      • indeego
      • 10 years ago

      I’d say that is a vote more for USB thumb drive than SDg{<.<}g

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 10 years ago

    Let’s see… Which one is easier.

    Put a thumb drive into a slot. Some fumbling required, like house keys nowadays. Out.

    Swiping a card it the air close to a device? In.

    Face it people are just lazy and will get more lazy. so the answer is pretty obvious. A cellphone with swiping capability. They are doing that is Japan right now. Everything will be on the cellphone and using whatever technology that is brainless.

    Am I pessimistic or what?

      • Bauxite
      • 10 years ago

      Yeah until the mass plague of truly cellphone-aware malware pops up, that will kill people using them for large amounts of personal data (aka all) RDQ.

    • linkman
    • 10 years ago

    I think the cloud is unlikely because, as stated below, there are too many limits on upload and download speed, as well as bandwidth restraints. I also think of the people on airplanes with their laptops & netbooks to do work. Imagine if all of their business work was on the internet and now they could not access it because they have no internet.

    Speaking personally, I don’t favor SD cards because I know that I would just keep on losing them cause they’re so damn small now-a-days. Though I disagree with the people who argue that stock computers don’t come with SD readers. I picked up an external USB card reader two days ago for $10 and it works great with my camera.

    Cd’s and DVD’s are just two large and impractical to store large amounts of data on in my opinion.

    So, out of those choices, I would definitely choose the thumb drives as the standard in 5 years. Thumb drives are getting larger in storage every day and they’re just the right size to stick on a key chain and have with you everywhere. Anyways, that was my 2 cents

    • 5150
    • 10 years ago

    whats wrong with DVD?

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 10 years ago

      I don’t know, what is wrong with VHS?

      • indeego
      • 10 years ago

      Too small, too slow, not quickly writable, fragile, space concerns for drivesg{<. <}g

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      does DVD think customers are stupid?
      DVD thinks it can have crippled storage space when there is blu-ray
      don’t let DVD tell you how to store data

      what’s wrong with DVD?

        • linkman
        • 10 years ago

        DVD is trying to squeeze out as much as it can, while it can. Because Blu-Ray is gonna become a lot cheaper and more common very shortly

          • indeego
          • 10 years ago

          “Because Blu-Ray is gonna become a lot cheaper and more common very shortly”

          /[<[citation neededg{<]<}g<]/

        • eitje
        • 10 years ago

        *claps* 😀

        • Krogoth
        • 10 years ago

        DVD storage space is certainly not crippled. It is still by far the cheapest in GB/$$$$ ratio even with quality media. BR will eventually surpass it with time.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 10 years ago

          Whoa, watch out! You almost got hit by that joke! Dang, man, get out of the middle of the road lest you be a casualty.

            • Krogoth
            • 10 years ago

            It is a very bad joke.

            • flip-mode
            • 10 years ago

            actually is was a play on snakeoil, I thought it was cute

            • Krogoth
            • 10 years ago

            It needed more troll. 😉

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Yeah it did but I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time and coming up with irrationally hateful things to say about DVD wasn’t easy.

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            I thought it was very well done. Any more and it would have been too much. You struck a good balance.

        • maxxcool
        • 10 years ago

        lol!! … ….

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    This one is easy – USB thumb drives. DVD is already on the way out although optical media for distribution will die a slow slow death. Others can be eliminated because they are either too expensive and no real change from DVD (blu-ray) because they’re effectively other vehicles for flash that are more expensive (cell phones, SD cards) The last one is just silly :p I don’t know what ‘other’ might be but it seems as if new tech is always ‘3-5 years away’ and uprooting cheap USB thumb drives will be hard.

    That leaves the Internet. In an ideal world with great speeds and connectivity guaranteed everywhere where gigabytes could be downloaded quickly and easily, sure. But sadly I don’t see that happening in the US in the next 5 years and that’s not to mention the trust factor involved with putting your data in someone else’s hands.

    • DancinJack
    • 10 years ago

    could! i do see the points people are making about thumb drives though.

    • yokem55
    • 10 years ago

    I think accessing data on one’s phone via bluetooth or some other wireless protocol will become more prominent. Who needs cables or plugging pesky devices into a machine. Just walk up, the phone’s drive will be detected, punch a couple of keys and have at your data. WHen you are done, walk away with your phone in your pocket and the wireless drive can automatically unmount.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 10 years ago

    Definetly USB thumb drives. Although “the cloud” is a contender, you just can’t throw 16GB of data into the cloud willy-nilly like you can a USB stick. There’s upload times, bandwidth restraints, connectivity and even download times.

    Optical drives are too fragile and too easily scratched.

    SD cards don’t have enough readers out there (very few computers even come with a SD card reader). No, the future is definetly USB sticks and it will remain dominent as flash memory sizes continue to get bigger and drop in price.

      • thecoldanddarkone
      • 10 years ago

      All three of my laptops and my desktop has an sd card reader… SD slots are pretty popular in the laptop range.

    • Nikiaf
    • 10 years ago

    I can see a day when you go out to the store and buy a piece of software that comes in a small box with an instruction manual and an SD card of some kind. While usb drives are easier for the consumer to use since they don’t need any form of reader, an SD card would cost less to manufacture. And we already have optical drives to read dvd’s and the like, so why not put SD card readers in all computers? most laptops and netbooks already have them anyway.

    • Hattig
    • 10 years ago

    Toughy, I think SD cards for media, USB thumb drives could be popular though for higher-performance, higher-capacity removable storage because of USB3 (or maybe someone will design an eSATA port with power!). I do think that BluRay will be a very popular movie medium, whatever the internet streaming people desire. Punch cards could make a massive come back, as they’re very tactile, and they could form the basis of Twitter2014 … 80 characters a message this time!

    • Norphy
    • 10 years ago

    I think it will be a combination of thumb drives and the cloud. Thumb drives are relatively cheap, don’t need additional cables, adapters, slots or drives, they’re compatible with the vast majority of computers built since 2000 and they’re far more convenient than optical disks both in terms of size and ease of use. A lot of computers still don’t have SD readers built into them and having to have an external USB flash adaptor is an inconvenience and i doubt that many people will store stuff on their mobile phones as they’ll either have to bluetooth it over (slow and a PITA to do on Windows, less of a PITA on a Mac but still slow) or carry around another cable or media adapter.

    • blastdoor
    • 10 years ago

    I voted thumb drives because of the way the issue was framed — that is, an issue of portable storage for the purposes of shuffling data around (aka, sneaker-net). But there is another application of removable storage which is archiving. For that purpose, I suspect writable DVDs might still have an important role to play (or the non-Blu-ray optical storage successor to the DVD).

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