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Storage System in DBMS

A database system provides an ultimate view of the stored data. However, data in the form of bits, bytes get stored in different storage devices.

In this section, we will take an overview of various types of storage devices that are used for accessing and storing data.

Types of Data Storage

For storing the data, there are different types of storage options available. These storage types differ from one another as per the speed and accessibility. There are the following types of storage devices used for storing the data:

  • Primary Storage
  • Secondary Storage
  • Tertiary Storage
Storage System in DBMS

Primary Storage

It is the primary area that offers quick access to the stored data. We also know the primary storage as volatile storage. It is because this type of memory does not permanently store the data. As soon as the system leads to a power cut or a crash, the data also get lost. Main memory and cache are the types of primary storage.

  • Main Memory: It is the one that is responsible for operating the data that is available by the storage medium. The main memory handles each instruction of a computer machine. This type of memory can store gigabytes of data on a system but is small enough to carry the entire database. At last, the main memory loses the whole content if the system shuts down because of power failure or other reasons.
  1. Cache: It is one of the costly storage media. On the other hand, it is the fastest one. A cache is a tiny storage media which is maintained by the computer hardware usually. While designing the algorithms and query processors for the data structures, the designers keep concern on the cache effects.

Secondary Storage

Secondary storage is also called as Online storage. It is the storage area that allows the user to save and store data permanently. This type of memory does not lose the data due to any power failure or system crash. That's why we also call it non-volatile storage.

There are some commonly described secondary storage media which are available in almost every type of computer system:

  • Flash Memory: A flash memory stores data in USB (Universal Serial Bus) keys which are further plugged into the USB slots of a computer system. These USB keys help transfer data to a computer system, but it varies in size limits. Unlike the main memory, it is possible to get back the stored data which may be lost due to a power cut or other reasons. This type of memory storage is most commonly used in the server systems for caching the frequently used data. This leads the systems towards high performance and is capable of storing large amounts of databases than the main memory.
  • Magnetic Disk Storage: This type of storage media is also known as online storage media. A magnetic disk is used for storing the data for a long time. It is capable of storing an entire database. It is the responsibility of the computer system to make availability of the data from a disk to the main memory for further accessing. Also, if the system performs any operation over the data, the modified data should be written back to the disk. The tremendous capability of a magnetic disk is that it does not affect the data due to a system crash or failure, but a disk failure can easily ruin as well as destroy the stored data.

Tertiary Storage

It is the storage type that is external from the computer system. It has the slowest speed. But it is capable of storing a large amount of data. It is also known as Offline storage. Tertiary storage is generally used for data backup. There are following tertiary storage devices available:

  • Optical Storage: An optical storage can store megabytes or gigabytes of data. A Compact Disk (CD) can store 700 megabytes of data with a playtime of around 80 minutes. On the other hand, a Digital Video Disk or a DVD can store 4.7 or 8.5 gigabytes of data on each side of the disk.
  • Tape Storage: It is the cheapest storage medium than disks. Generally, tapes are used for archiving or backing up the data. It provides slow access to data as it accesses data sequentially from the start. Thus, tape storage is also known as sequential-access storage. Disk storage is known as direct-access storage as we can directly access the data from any location on disk.

Storage Hierarchy

Besides the above, various other storage devices reside in the computer system. These storage media are organized on the basis of data accessing speed, cost per unit of data to buy the medium, and by medium's reliability. Thus, we can create a hierarchy of storage media on the basis of its cost and speed.

Thus, on arranging the above-described storage media in a hierarchy according to its speed and cost, we conclude the below-described image:

Storage System in DBMS

In the image, the higher levels are expensive but fast. On moving down, the cost per bit is decreasing, and the access time is increasing. Also, the storage media from the main memory to up represents the volatile nature, and below the main memory, all are non-volatile devices.


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