If you're confused by all of the "removable media" drive options that are available for your computer, you're not alone. In recent years there's been an explosion in different types of removable media drives, and even different media for the same drive type.
The information in this table has been collected from a variety of sources and is not intended to be used as a purchasing or pricing guide (besides, it will be obsolete by tomorrow). However, it may help you sort out which options are best for your particular application, so you can make a more informed decision on your next purchase.
* R=read only, W=Read/write, RW=Rewriteable
|Type||Capacity Range||Cost of Drive||Cost of Media ($/MB)||Typical Use||Read/Write
|3.5" floppy disk||720K-2.88MB (1.44 MB most common)||$15-$20 (1.44 MB)||.15-.40||Short Term, small file transfers||RW||Ubiquitous, convenient||Slow; short shelf life|
|Zip disk||100MB-750MB||$50-$200||.03-.10||Moderate-size file transfers||RW||Widespread. Backward-compatible reads||Can't write to older media. Not compatible with other media|
|SuperDisk||120MB-240MB||$50-$200||.04-.15||Moderate-size file transfers||RW||Compatible with floppy disks||Relatively expensive|
|CD||680MB-800MB||$35-$50||Included in cost of content||Software and music distribution||R||Ubiquitous, convenient, inexpensive||Can't be written to|
|CD-R||680MB-800MB||$70-$150||.0003-.001||Data and audio creation, copy, distribution, archiving||W||Can be read in any CDROM drive, convenient, inexpensive||Can only be written once|
|CD-RW||680MB-800MB||$70-$150||.001-.003||Data and audio creation, copy, distribution||RW||Can be read in any CDROM drive, convenient||Slightly more expensive than CD-R media|
|DVD||4.7GB-17GB||$80-$150||Included in cost of content||Software and video distribution||R||Becoming more widespread; high capacity||Not as common as CD (yet)|
|DVD-R||4.7GB||$230-$500||.0008-.002||Data, audio, and video creation, copy, distribution, archiving||W||Becoming more widespread; high capacity; very low cost per MB||Can only be written once|
|DVD-RW||2.3GB-4.7GB||$230-$500||.002-.004||Data, audio, and video creation, copy, distribution||RW||Becoming more widespread; high capacity||Somewhat more expensive than DVD-R media|
|Memory stick (CompactFlash, etc.)||8MB-1GB||Varies with device||.20-.50||Short-term data, audio, video transfers||RW||Used in wide variety of devices: digital cameras, DVD players, MP3 players, etc.||Relatively expensive|
|Tape||4GB-200GB; can be expanded with tape libraries||$150-$3,000||.001-.005 depending on technology||Data backup and archiving||RW||Ability to automate data backups; high capacity||Slow; fairly expensive|
|Hard drive||20GB-200GB, can be expanded with multi-drive options (RAID)||$70-$500||.002-.004||High-speed online data storage and retrieval||RW||Fast, ubiquitous; not good for long-term archiving||Not normally removable/portable; relatively expensive|