The New Floppy Discs

Digital cameras, MP3 players, and PDAs have made transferring and storing your files more confusing than ever. Here's how to pick the best bucket for your bytes.

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Open a file stored on Sony's new pen-inspired Microvault by simply plugging it into the computer's USB port. The device comes in four capacities -- 16MB (yellow), 32MB (red), 64MB (blue), and 128MB (black) -- though models with as much as 2GB of storage could be available within the next couple of years.

USB FLASH MEMORY

Great For: People with two or more unnetworked computers, or those who ferry files from home to work.

Think Twice If: Your files come from digital devices that require a specific type of memory card.

What to Buy: Sony Microvault ($49 for 16MB to $299 for 128MB), IBM Memory Key ($89 for 32MB), Agat Q ($69 for 16MB to $199 for 64MB).

PERSONAL HARD DRIVES

Great For: Data hogs (think 40GB), such as those who want to carry around their collection of MP3s.

Think Twice If: Size and weight concern you -- they're comparatively bulky.

What to Buy: Archos Technology MiniHD ($199), Apple iPod (at $399, it's not just an MP3 player).

REMOVABLE FLASH MEMORY CARDS

Great For: People with many digital devices that require a specific card.

Think Twice If: You want to share your data with others.

What to Buy: Compact Flash card, Secure Digital card, Memory Stick, SmartMedia card -- many options for all, starting at $18.