There are a number of options for storing data – the intended purpose deciding which is the most appropriate.
For making files portable to transfer between computers, CDs, DVDs and USB memory sticks are useful for limited capacities of data. However, be aware that when used in multiple computers they can be susceptible to virus infection and lack security as they are easily stolen or lost.
Your collection of music, photos and other files will likely need far more space. Backup copies of larger quantities of data can be created on your own computer, but by doing this you’re placing all your eggs in one basket – if the hard drive fails you will still lose everything. The solution to this problem is to make sure you store it on a completely separate medium.
External hard drives are popular for this purpose as they offer tons of storage and are also fairly portable. Easy to operate, they usually connect to your computer's USB drive and plug into a power outlet – files are simply dragged and dropped across to the drive to make copies. If you go down this route, bear in mind that the safety of your data depends entirely on the external drive, which like all hard drives, has a limited lifespan and can fail suddenly, or could be damaged or lost. You also need to get into the habit of regularly transferring data to it if you want to keep an up-to-date backup. The most long-lasting and therefore safest type of external hard drives are ‘solid state’ drives, but they are also the most expensive.
A better way to store data and keep it safe from computer crashes, damage and theft is to use online storage. Online storage has flexible capacity and safeguards all your files in a remote location. If something goes wrong with your computer, the files can be remotely accessed and retrieved using any computer with internet access, and quickly and easily restored. Online services offer encryption for secure transfer and storage to assure privacy. Another important advantage is the option to schedule online backups to run automatically, leaving all your important files secured without you having to remember to do anything.