I'm looking for a generic word to describe (removable) computer storage such as CDs, USB sticks, floppies etc which is as clear as possible to non-technical people. It doesn't have to clearly distinguish removable from fixed. "Media" and "storage" are both candidates, but I am not sure how natural they sound to the average person. "Disks" is my current choice, but using it for USB sticks seems to me to be stretching it slightly.


Media is the correct word for that. You could add an adjective or two and call it storage media if you thought that would help- or persistent storage media. Those are all non-technical English words that ought to be recognizable, especially in context, by any average computer user.

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    I've seen the term "removable media" used. I'd avoid using the adjective persistent, as that might get people thinking about the difference between, say, read-only and rewritable CDs. – J.R. May 11 '12 at 9:57
  • @J.R. I suppose that's a valid point. When I use the term persistent it is to differentiate between storage that requires power to maintain the information vs storage that persists data even when power is removed. – Jim May 11 '12 at 15:58
  • Jim, no argument from me. I just think the term has potential to confuse, particularly if one assumes it will be universally interpreted in a certain way. – J.R. May 11 '12 at 16:07

My two suggestions would be:

  • Peripheral storage
  • Removable media

No matter what term you use, though, I'd recommend providing a either formal definition, or a parenthetical for example list. Don't assume everyone will automatically interpret the term in the same way. As technology evolves, it becomes more and more difficult to coin a brief term and have it universally recognized, with no potential for ambiguity or misinterpretation. The terms above could be used to describe an antiquated floppy disk, a CD, a DVD-RW, a USB memory stick, a flash card, a SIM card, or a 250 GB portable hard drive. For that matter, a digital camera, an .mp3 player, or even a cell phone could be used for portable digital storage.


Maybe storage device would also give the same meaning.

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