Secondary Storage Device

Updated: 09/20/2017 by Computer Hope

Secondary storageAlternatively referred to as external memory, secondary memory, and auxiliary storage, a secondary storage device is a non-volatile device that holds data until it is deleted or overwritten. Secondary storage is about two orders of magnitude cheaper than primary storage. Consequently, hard drives (a prime example of secondary storage) are the go-to solution for nearly all data kept on today's computers.

The image shows three types of storage, but off-line storage is a subset of secondary storage, as they both serve the same purpose and do not interact directly with the CPU.

Examples of secondary storage

Why does a computer need secondary storage?

It is possible for a computer not to have or use secondary storage (e.g. dumb terminal). However, for most computers and users, secondary storage is required because of the need to permanently store some data to a computer. Without primary storage, if you were working on a document and the power turned off, everything would be lost because primary storage is temporary. However, a computer with secondary storage that saved the file before the power turned off would be able to recover the last saved version of the file.

How much secondary storage is required for a computer?

The computer only needs enough secondary storage for the operating system and hardware drivers. However, we always recommend getting as much secondary storage as you can afford since any installed programs, pictures, music, or other data requires secondary storage.

Floppy drive terms, Hard drive terms, Off-line storage, Primary storage device, Storage device