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Exploring Data Storage: An Essential Guide for Business Decision‑Makers

Navigate the world of data storage with confidence. Gain insights and strategies in this essential guide for business decision‑makers.

Data is a crucial component of your business. For instance, with data reporting, you can learn more about the performance of marketing initiatives like your website or specific advertising campaigns. However, how you store your data can also affect its success. Data storage can have a significant impact on your business and its customers. Finding the right data storage solution can prevent IT disasters that damage your reputation.

Think of your data storage solution like a warehouse, but instead of storing inventory, you’re storing important business data ranging from customers’ personal information to financial data, passwords, and business documents.

Finding the right business data storage solution ensures your data is safe, protected, and free from hackers while ensuring your data is backed up in case you lose it. Keep reading to learn more about data storage for businesses.

What is data storage?

Data storage refers to how documents are stored digitally and physically. These include your business documents, customer data, and anything else you keep on your computer systems. The data stored can be anything from customer credit card information and addresses to financial documents, employee documentation, and other internal documents you need to help your business operate.

Data storage ensures your files are backed up in case of accidental deletion or system failure. Rather than having your files lost forever, you’ll be able to regain control of them while protecting them from cyberattacks.

The right data storage solution ensures the accessibility of important business files, customer surveys, documents, and data while keeping it secure and enhancing productivity.

Types of data storage

There are three distinct storage formats that allow you to store data in different ways: file, block, and object storage. Which one you choose largely depends on how you want data stored within your organization. Let’s take a closer look at each of the data storage types to help you understand what they are and how they work.

File storage

File storage, also known as file-level storage, refers to data stored as a single file within a folder. One of the most common ways we use file storage is when we create a specific folder on our computers and add Word documents to them, working similarly to how we’d organize our hard copy files in an office.

When you need to find a file, all you have to do is enter the file path, telling your computer exactly where to find it. This type of data storage relies on a hierarchical structure with individual files stored in a folder and folders organized in a hierarchy. For instance, if you’re saving financial data, the hierarchical structure might look something like this: Business documents > financial data > year > profit and loss statements > file.

This hierarchical structure is easy to navigate and understand, allowing users to easily access the file they’re looking for, even if they don’t know its name.

Block storage

Block storage, also known as block-level storage, is considered more efficient than file storage because it breaks files into small blocks of data, storing each block separately on the server. Instead of using directories, subdirectories, and folders like file storage, block storage allows users to access files using unique addresses, pulling the blocks back together into a single file.

Block storage is more complicated than file storage, but it can be more efficient, but it’s also more costly because it has limited metadata capabilities, which adds more work for developers or systems admins.

Object storage

With object storage, also known as object-based storage, files are broken into smaller pieces — or objects — and stored across hardware. Instead of being stored as files in folders or blocks on servers, they’re kept in a repository. Each repository owns the data and uses a unique identifier to help the system locate the objects distributed throughout the system.

Unlike block storage metadata, object storage metadata can be complex and detailed, allowing it to store more unstructured data using application programming interfaces (APIs). Examples of data stored in object storage include emails, videos, photos, website pages, and other types of data that can’t be organized easily.

Types of data storage devices

Data storage devices include physical hard drives, USBs, or cloud storage that allows you to keep your files backed up and readily available. If your computer crashes and you cannot log back in, you’ll have your data and files stored elsewhere, so they’re not lost forever. There are four common types of data storage devices every business owner should know: primary and secondary storage devices, offline, and cloud storage.

Primary storage devices

Primary storage refers to the computer’s main storage or memory, often referred to as random access memory (RAM). This type of data storage is fast and volatile, meaning the data stored can be lost if the system shuts down. Volatile memory like RAM loses data when the computer shuts down.

Secondary storage devices

Secondary storage devices are not part of your computer system but can be directly attached to them. Hard disk drives (HDDs) are from the old days of computers. They use mechanical spinning disks to read and write data. Modern computers now use solid-state drives (SSDs) in the form of memory chips and flash storage like USB drives and SD cards.

These types of storage are slower than primary storage but non-volatile, meaning they retain information even when the power is off. Therefore, if you experience a system failure or power outage, you won’t lose the data stored on these devices.

Offline storage devices

Offline storage devices are those that aren’t accessible by computer systems alone. Optical disks like DVDs and CDs are the most common form of offline storage. In the past, companies had to use disks with disk drives to store massive amounts of data. However, they’re not used as prevalently today, with many laptops and modern computers completely eliminating disk drives altogether.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage maintains, manages, and backs up data using remote servers hosted on the internet. The data stored in the cloud can be accessed and managed through a web-based interface. Cloud storage is scalable, cost-effective, and accessible. Many small businesses can save on on-premise data storage solutions by opting for cloud storage.

How effective data storage can benefit your business

Effective data storage provides you with a place to store your data. Earlier, we compared data storage to a warehouse where your files, documents, and unstructured data are the inventory. Storing your data the right way can improve access to information, is highly scalable, and provides easy data backup and recovery while supporting other business goals. Let’s take a look at the benefits of effective data storage for businesses:

Efficient access to information

Data storage eliminates the need for physical file storage and retrieval, enabling data to be found and used almost instantly. With effective data storage, you can eliminate file folders and desk drawers filled with information and documents you may never be able to organize properly. Instead of employees spending their time searching for files, they can easily search for them on their computers.


Data storage solutions allow digital data to be accessed from anywhere and at any time, which can be especially important for supporting remote teams. With cloud-based storage, files are accessible at any time, allowing employees to work on projects within a team’s server.


Different types of data storage or highly scalable, allowing you to scale up or down depending on your organization's needs. For instance, you only pay for the storage space you use with cloud storage.

Easy data recovery

Data storage reduces the risk of data loss by enabling data recovery. With cloud storage and backup, your files are automatically saved. Therefore, if you lose access to a specific computer, you can still access certain documents, files, and folders from another device.

Enhanced security

Data storage also enhances security, with many digital storage providers offering robust security measures like encryption and multi-factor authentication. If you work with a third-party cloud storage company, they’ll handle data storage for you, and many of them spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on technology that prevents data breaches.

Facilitates collaboration

Efficient data storage facilitates collaboration among teams. With digital storage, teams can work together on the same documents and data sets simultaneously, regardless of their geographic location. Improving collaboration increases efficiency and productivity. For instance, your team members can work on data visualizations together to create insightful reports.


Many digital storage solutions allow you to pay only for the space you use, making it much more cost-effective than on-site storage. These solutions typically require less capital investment compared to physical storage solutions, eliminating costs associated with maintaining physical infrastructure.

Start implementing a data storage infrastructure

Storing data can seem complex, but the right data storage solution can help you manage your important files, documents, and unstructured and raw data to help your business succeed. Mailchimp’s CRM makes it easy to store and organize customer and business data that drive important business decisions.

With Mailchimp, you can ensure GDPR compliance with a robust privacy policy to ensure you’re storing data correctly and using it in compliance with regulations. Sign up for Mailchimp today.

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