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Storage Media

A Macintosh computer can read data from, or write data to, a wide range of storage media, including:

  • Hard disks—high capacity magnetic media.

  • CD-ROM, CD-R, DVD, and DVD-R discs—high capacity, removable optical media.

  • Zip, Jaz, or other disks or cartridges—high capacity, removable magnetic media.

  • Floppy disks or diskettes—low capacity, removable magnetic media.

To use storage media, it must be:

  • Mounted—inserted, attached, or other-wise accessible to your computer.

  • Formatted or initialized—specially prepared for use with your computer.

All of these things are covered in this section.


  • Don't confuse storage media with memory. The term memory usually refers to the amount of RAM in your computer, not disk space. RAM is discussed in Chapter 5.

  • At a minimum, all new Macintosh computers include a hard disk and CD-ROM drives.

  • Storage devices can be internal (in side your computer) or external (attached to your computer by a cable).

  • Some external storage devices must be properly connected and turned on before you start your computer or your computer may not recognize the de vice.

  • Disk storage media capacity is specified in terms of bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes (Table 1).

    Table 1 Terminology for Storage Media Capacity






    1 character



    1,024 bytes



    1,024 KB



    1,024 MB

  • If a disk is write-protected or or locked, files can not be saved or copied to it. A pencil with a line through it appears in the status bar of write-protected or locked disks (Figure 50). I tell you more about the status bar in Chapter 4.

    Figure 50Figure 50 A write-protected icon appears in the status bar of CD-ROM discs and other write-protected media.

  • You cannot write data to a CD-ROM. But if your Mac has a CD-Recordable (CD-R) drive or SuperDrive, you can use special software to create or burn your own CDs.

  • Mac OS X may not recognize a built-in floppy drive on an older Mac model. It does, however, recognize most thirdparty USB floppy drives.

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