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1.3 - Access & Storage Devices

Exam Board:



2016 - Unit 2 

Handheld Devices

Examples of handheld devices:

Handheld devices are small, light and possibly can be worn on the human body. These devices are very portable and easy to transport but their small size restricts the space for a powerful processor or high memory capacity. Handheld devices are becoming more powerful over time with extra features, storage options and network connectivity.


  • Light and portable so they can be easily carried on a person or in a pocket.

  • Runs on battery power so do not need to be plugged into a power source (unless to charge) allowing for freedom of movement.


  • Low processing power due to small size and no cooling system.

  • Relies on battery power which may not last for long.

  • More likely to be lost, damaged or stolen.

  • Generally small memory / storage capacity and low versatility.


Small Tablet



Portable Devices

Examples of portable devices:

Portable devices are larger and more powerful than handheld devices and can be carried easily in a bag. Laptops and larger tablets are the main examples of portable devices. 


  • Light and portable so they can be easily transported in a laptop bag or small rucksack.

  • Runs on battery power so they can work without a power outlet, such as to complete work on a train or in a library.

  • More powerful and versatile than handheld devices.


  • Lower processing power and smaller memory / storage capacity than fixed devices like desktops.

  • Reliant on their battery power which may only be a few hours.


Large Tablet

Fixed Devices

Examples of fixed devices:

Fixed devices are bulky devices that require a constant power connection. The most common example of a fixed device is a desktop computer which has a higher processing power and storage capacity than handheld and portable devices. 


  • Desktop computers have the highest processing power of commercially available home / work computers and contain sufficient cooling systems to maintain temperature.

  • Desktops and games consoles have large storage capacities and can be upgraded / expanded to even larger sizes.

  • Desktop computers are very versatile and are powerful enough to be used for thousands of different purposes, from basic word processing and web browsing to server roles and data mining.


  • Reliant on a power outlet and cannot be transported whilst on.

  • Heavy and difficult to move. May require additional components like a monitor.

  • Typically more expensive than handheld and portable devices.


Computer Monitor

Games Console

Smart TV

Shared Devices

A shared device allows multiple users to access data at the same time. Cloud storage is the most common example of a shared device and is used by individuals, schools and businesses around the world through services such as Google Drive, Apple's iCloud and Microsoft's One Drive. A data centre is a dedicated building that contains computer systems - Facebook uses data centres across the globe so that their social media service can be available to users every second of the day. Database servers were explained in Unit 1 section 3.1.


  • Accessible by multiple users at the same time. For example, the database server can be accessed by employees of a bank simultaneously.

  • Data centres allow online services to run all hours of the day and year. For example, Google uses data centres across the world to ensure their services can be accessed all of the time.

  • Cloud storage frees up physical space for users as the storage is located (usually) on third-party servers.

  • Cloud storage devices allow authorised users such as clients or staff members to access information or work remotely (outside of the office).


  • Shared devices are reliant on stable network connections. If a connection is lost, access to the device will be affected.

  • Setting up shared devices within an organisation requires technical knowledge, especially for companies establishing their own cloud storage or data centre.

Examples of shared devices:

Cloud Storage

Data Centre


Database Server

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Questo's Questions

1.3 - Access & Storage Devices:

1. Identify the type of device that the following devices fit into:

  • a. Laptop

  • b. Cloud storage

  • c. Desktop computer

  • d. Smartphone    [4]

2. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of using each of the 4 types of storage devices.

  • a. Handheld devices [6]

  • b. Portable devices [6]

  • c. Fixed devices [6]

  • d. Shared devices [6]

3. For the following scenarios explain which specific device (not type) which would be suitable. You must also justify your choice.

  • a. Working on a spreadsheet on a train before work. [4]

  • b. Taking a video of a penalty in a football match to upload to Twitter. [4]

  • c. Working on a file with team members located across the country. [4]

  • d. Playing Civilization VI on highest settings whilst listening to rock climbing podcasts in a separate tab. [4]

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