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The purpose of this paper is to highlight some best practices for data input and output. In addition, this paper will highlight appropriate uses of various storage means. Lastly, it will address the effect certain components of a computer have on its overall speed.
Accuracy of Data Input
There are various methods for entering data into a computer system. Depending on the medium in which the original data is contained, and how it is to be stored and used later, there can be great differences in input methods. Printed questionnaires, for example, would be best entered by re-typing the answers given. A voice recognition system may be best suited for surveys taken over the telephone as there are no other means to take input over a telephone. In the case of bank checks, image scanners can capture not only the handwriting and MICR numbers on the front, but they also can capture the signature of the party cashing the check, and the date/time stamp that was used at the time of payment. Retail tags could take advantage of barcode scanners as a means to input the data they carry. There are several data points on a retail tag such as price, color, size, manufacturer, etc. These all can be captured in a single bar code, allowing it all to be input at the same time. Long documents, such as house mortgages, pre-nuptial agreements and the like, are ideal candidates for scanning input as well. However, character recognition scanning software is probably more appropriate, so that instead of a ‘picture’ of the document, it takes the file format of an actual digital document (.doc or .pdf, for example). One data is actually entered into a computer, there is a means by which it must be extracted.
Convenience and Quality of Data Output
As there are various methods for data being put into a computer, there are also several means by which data output can be created and viewed. For example, a handheld computer’s output would best be via the device’s screen. The handheld is more of a convenience device that is rarely used for high quality documents or graphics creation. Color photographs are best put to paper specifically designed to accept photographic images and ink. For a resume, the best way is via a laser printer, for its sharpness, on to high quality bond paper for a feel of quality and professionalism.
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Best Practice Use of Data Storage Devices
There are several types of storage devices for computers, and each of them has a best practice for use. If we start at the heart of the computer, we have the hard disk, or sometimes called the hard drive. This item is the de facto standard for end user storage of data. With a decreasing cost per unit of storage and high reliability, they are ideal for mass storage of data. Floppy disks are highly unreliable as a means to store data, and have all but disappeared from a standardized desktop computer. They used to be great for data portability, but their fragility kept them from being around too long. In addition, their capacity just could not keep up with marketplace trends. RAM (random access memory) is ideal for those users who need data to react quickly, such as online gamers, or those who work with high resolution graphics. Instead of accessing the hard drive for information, if the computer has a large amount of RAM, this info can be stored there for quick, constant access. CD-ROMs have more capacity, and are sturdier than the floppy disk. According to Slattery (2004) “CD-R and DVD-R media
can be very stable…Unfortunately, it is very difficult for customers to identify these more stable media.” Tape is more suited to back up computer systems. As it can be removed from the system, this allows it to be free of any hardware failure, and can preserve data created up to the back up point. Flash or Jump drives are becoming the next standard for data portability. They are small hard drives, which allow the transfer of large files without having to use the network. The amount of data on any one of these media will most certainly have an effect on the speed of the computer itself.
Factors Affecting Computer Speed
There are many parts of a computer that have an effect on its speed. RAM is by far the most important factor. A large amount of RAM allows the CPU to access this repository of data rather than having to seek it out on the hard drive. The larger the ‘well’ of data in the quick access bucket (RAM), the quicker the computer can return the output to the user. Clock speed is generally viewed as the standard for assessing a computer’s speed, generally measured in megahertz (MHz) and more recently, gigahertz (GHz). The higher the MHz or GHz, the faster the computer’s CPU works. The amount of data on the hard drive can also affect the speed of a computer. A large amount of data on a hard disk means that the computer must search through a larger amount of data to find what it wants, which can slow a computer down. Data on CD-ROMs or floppy disks generally don’t have an affect on computer speed, unless there is an abnormally low amount of RAM in the system, then only the CD-ROM would affect the speed. Floppy disks carry such a small amount of data that they do not affect the computer speed one way or the other.
In conclusion, I have shown that there are several means by which data can be put in to a computer, as well as various means of the output. Depending on the situation, different types of input methods are appropriate for efficiency and accuracy. Also, output methods are dependent on the context in which they are needed. Data storage has several formats, and these are best practices for when to use which type of storage. Finally, hardware has a great effect on the perceived speed of a computer.
Slattery, O., Lu, R., Zheng, J., Byers, F., & Tang, X. (Sept-Oct 2004). Stability comparison of recordable optical discs--a study of error rates in harsh conditions. Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, 109, 5. p.517(8). Retrieved October 02, 2008, from General OneFile via Gale:
http://find.galegroup.com/itx/start.do?prodId=ITOF - cd rom stability