We've previously discussed the best ways to convert your music from CDs to digital files, but once that conversion is done, where should you store all those songs? The greatest upside of digital storage--that all your data is housed in one convenient location--is also its greatest potential downside. If your drive or virtual drive (a.k.a. The Cloud) is faulty or gets corrupted in any way, you could have a real problem on your hands. Your music files may vanish completely, or may require some extensive data recovery work that can get pretty darn expensive. Here are a few storage choices, both physical and virtual, we recommend for your precious tunes.
Let's Get Physical
Hard drives are much like car brakes in that they're both things you don't want to be chincy with. As any tech geek will tell you, once your hard drive gets fried, you're pretty much done for, so it's worth investing in a good quality one. Just how good is really up to your needs, for memory, size, and portability. If portability is key, one size-friendly option is the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt, which comes with two different choices for memory limit: 500 GB, which runs approximately $179.99, or 1 TB, which, for $50 more, gives you twice the storage space. (The drive used to require a separate purchase of a Thunderbolt cable, which would run you $50, but that's now included with it. Word to the wise: even though the drive is portable, the greatest risks posed to external drives happen when continuously moving them around, so be mindful.) If price is of key importance, the Seagate Backup Plus is an excellent choice for your storage needs. It also features 1 TB of storage at the incredible value of $89.99. While still relatively compact, its got quick performance speed, as well as its versatile USM (Universal Storage Module) adapter, which allows you to connect the via the USB 3.0, FireWire, and Thunderbolt. It also comes in a variety of colors (black, silver, blue, and red) and, though constructed out of plastic, has a sleek faux-metal feel to it. If sturdiness and stability is your utmost goal, then you really can't do better than the G-Raid, particularly if you're working off of a Mac. A dual drive that was designed for professional content creators, the G-Raid has a solid, all-aluminum exterior, and is ready to use right out of the box for Mac OS X systems (it also supports Windows® systems with a simple reformat). While the G-Raid was once an incredibly expensive choice, the company has developed a number of options for pro-sumer needs that are remarkably reasonable for the quality they provide. There is a large spectrum in terms of available memory size, all the way up to 8 TB. Now that's a lot of tunes.
If you prefer to store your media in an online server, a.k.a. The Cloud, there are a number of reliable options from some very familiar names, most of which offer 5 GB storage for free. Amazon allows 5 GB of data storage free of charge, but only allows 250 song files to be stored for free in the Cloud Player. To store more (up to 250,000 imported songs), you can sign up for Cloud Player Premium for $24.99/year. Google Drive (drive.google.com) starts you at 5 GB for free, while allowing you to upgrade to 25 GB for less than $2.50 a month, and Dropbox recently caught up with its competitors by boosting its free storage from 2 GB to 5 GB. Both of these feature a number of cloud music players and apps (iPhone and Droid) to let you access and play your tunes with ease. And lest we forget the masters of product integration, Apple, who now have the iCloud, which lets you automatically download all your new music purchases (from iTunes, obviously) to all your devices--iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, or Apple TV--over Wi-Fi, or over a cellular network when applicable. iCloud offers the standard 5 GB free, with options to upgrade between 10 GB and 50 GB for $20-$100 per year.
Regardless of your storage choice, one thing is clear: you need to back that thang up! Your music is basically a blueprint of your life, so don't take any chances. Find a way to keep it in a better state as soon as possible.