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LPI Linux Essentials Exam 010-160 - Topic 4.2 - Storage Devices and Technologies

In this guide, we will delve into the world of storage devices and technologies commonly used in Linux systems. By exploring various storage mediums, interfaces, and related commands, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding suitable for beginners and those seeking to deepen their knowledge in Linux storage management.

Storage Devices

HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

HDDs, or Hard Disk Drives, are time-tested storage devices that utilize rotating magnetic platters to store and retrieve data. Their primary advantage lies in offering substantial storage capacities at a relatively low cost, making them an ideal choice for bulk data storage. HDDs operate through an actuator arm that moves over the spinning disks to read and write information. This mechanical setup, while reliable, results in slower data access speeds and a higher vulnerability to physical shocks compared to state-of-the-art storage technologies. HDDs are often used in desktop computers, servers, and consumer electronics where large storage capacity is a priority, but the speed of data retrieval is less critical.

SSD (Solid State Drive)

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are a leap forward in storage technology, utilizing flash-based memory, which is significantly faster than traditional magnetic media. Unlike HDDs, SSDs have no moving parts, reducing the risk of mechanical failures and data loss due to physical damage. This absence of mechanical parts also translates to quicker data access times, lower power consumption, and quieter operation. While they are more expensive per gigabyte (GB) compared to HDDs, SSDs offer substantial performance enhancements, including faster boot times, quicker file transfers, and improved overall system responsiveness. SSDs are commonly used in modern laptops, high-performance desktops, and as external storage solutions where speed and reliability are paramount.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) Storage

USB storage devices, encompassing a wide range of flash drives and external hard disks, provide a highly portable and universally compatible solution for data transfer and storage. They connect through USB ports, which are standard across almost all computer systems, making them incredibly versatile. USB storage devices are small, lightweight, and often do not require external power sources, enhancing their portability. These devices are particularly useful for quick data transfers between different computers, creating backups, or transporting large files. They are also commonly used for creating bootable media, such as for installing operating systems like Linux, or for emergency recovery tools.

DVD (Digital Versatile Disc)

Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs) are optical storage media that have been a staple in multimedia storage and distribution. While their popularity has waned with the advent of more advanced digital storage solutions, DVDs remain relevant for specific uses. They typically store up to 4.7 GB of data on a single layer and double that on a dual-layer disc. DVDs are still employed for archiving important data, distributing large software packages (such as Linux distributions), and for video and audio content in areas where digital streaming or downloading is not feasible. Their durability and relatively low cost make DVDs a viable option for long-term storage of important data that does not require frequent access.

Storage Interfaces and Technologies

SCSI (Small Computer System Interface)

SCSI, standing for Small Computer System Interface, is a robust and versatile set of standards for connecting and transferring data between computers and peripheral devices. Originally developed in the 1980s, SCSI has evolved over the years to support faster data transfer rates and a wider range of device types. It is particularly favored for its high speed and reliability, making it a go-to choice in server environments and high-performance computing workstations. SCSI interfaces can support multiple devices over a single bus, simplifying system configurations and enhancing data throughput. It's also known for supporting a wide variety of device types, ranging from hard drives and CD-ROMs to printers and scanners, thereby offering a versatile solution for complex computing systems.

SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment)

SATA, or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, is a widely-adopted interface standard for connecting storage devices like HDDs and SSDs to a computer's motherboard. Since its introduction, SATA has undergone several revisions, with SATA III being the most commonly used version today, offering data transfer speeds of up to 6 gigabits per second (Gb/s). This interface is known for its ease of use, backward compatibility, and relatively low cost. The design of SATA cables and connectors allows for more efficient airflow inside a computer case and easier cable management compared to older PATA (Parallel ATA) technology. SATA's widespread adoption can be attributed to its balance between performance, cost, and compatibility, making it a prevalent choice in both consumer and enterprise computing systems.

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks)

RAID, short for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a technology that combines multiple physical disk drives into a single logical unit for the purposes of data redundancy, performance improvement, or both. It offers several configurations, known as RAID levels, each providing a different balance of redundancy, performance, and storage capacity. Common RAID levels include RAID 0 (which stripes data across disks for improved performance but offers no redundancy), RAID 1 (which mirrors data across disks for redundancy), and RAID 5 (which distributes parity information across multiple disks, offering a balance of performance and data protection). RAID can be implemented through dedicated hardware controllers or through software. It's widely used in environments where data integrity and system uptime are critical, such as in data centers, enterprise IT, and content creation workflows.

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express)

NVMe, or Non-Volatile Memory Express, is a cutting-edge protocol designed to maximize the potential of high-speed storage media, particularly solid-state drives (SSDs), through the PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) interface. This protocol dramatically reduces latency and increases data throughput in comparison to older storage protocols like SATA and SAS (Serial Attached SCSI). NVMe's design allows for a more direct and optimized path between the storage device and the CPU, enabling significantly faster data transfer rates, which is crucial in high-performance computing environments, gaming, and data-intensive applications. NVMe SSDs are renowned for their remarkable speed, with the ability to process large amounts of data quickly, thereby reducing system boot times and accelerating application loading and file transfers. As a result, NVMe is increasingly becoming the standard for new generation computing systems, offering a substantial performance boost over traditional storage solutions.

Linux Command for Storage Management

lsblk Command

The lsblk command in Linux is a powerful utility for displaying information about all available block devices on the system. It presents a comprehensive overview, including the size, type, mount point, and partition layout of each drive. This command is particularly useful for system administrators and users who need to manage or identify storage devices on a Linux system.

When you run lsblk in the terminal, the command provides a tree-like structure showing all block devices, such as hard drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), USB drives, and their respective partitions. It also displays the sizes of these devices and partitions, making it easier to understand the storage layout and space utilization on your system.

Example Command and Output

To run the lsblk command, simply type it into your terminal:


This command will generate an output similar to the following:

sda      8:0    0   1T   0  disk 
├─sda1   8:1    0   500G  0  part /home
├─sda2   8:2    0   400G  0  part /var
└─sda3   8:3    0   100G  0  part [SWAP]
sdb      8:16   0   500G  0  disk 
└─sdb1   8:17   0   500G  0  part /data
sr0     11:0    1  1024M  0  rom  

In this example, the output details two storage devices: sda and sdb.

  • sda is a 1 TB disk with three partitions: sda1 mounted on /home, sda2 on /var, and sda3 used for swap space.
  • sdb is a 500 GB disk with a single partition: sdb1, mounted on /data.
  • sr0 represents a read-only optical drive, like a DVD-ROM, with a size of 1024 MB.

Each line includes the device name, major and minor numbers, a flag indicating if the device is removable (RM), size, read-only status (RO), type (disk, part, rom), and mount points. lsblk an invaluable tool for managing and diagnosing storage configurations in Linux environments.


In conclusion, this guide offers a comprehensive exploration of the storage devices and technologies central to Linux systems. It navigates from the traditional, high-capacity HDDs to the swift and reliable SSDs, touches on the portability of USB storage, and acknowledges the specific roles of DVDs in data storage. Additionally, it delves into pivotal storage interfaces and technologies like SCSI, SATA, RAID, and NVMe, highlighting their importance in data management and system performance. The guide also illustrates the practicality of the lsblk command, emphasizing its value in effectively managing and diagnosing storage configurations in Linux environments. Overall, this guide stands as a valuable resource for understanding and navigating the complex landscape of storage options in Linux.

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