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Data Access Methods

Data Access Methods

How data files are stored in secondary storage varies with the types of media and devices you are using. Data files may be stored on or in sequential-access storage, direct-access storage, or random-access storage.

1. Sequential Access Storage

Punched cards, paper tape, and magnetic tape are examples of sequential-access storage media. When operating in a sequential environment, a particular record can be read only by first reading all the records that come before it in the file. When you store a file on tape, the 125th record cannot be read until the 124 records in front of it are read. The records are read in sequence. You cannot read just any record at random. This is also true when reading punched cards or paper tape.

2. Direct Access Storage

Direct-access storage allows you to access the 125th record without first having to read the 124 records in front of it. Magnetic disks and drums are examples of direct-access storage media. Data can be obtained quickly from anywhere on the media. However, the amount of time it takes to access a record is dependent to some extent on the mechanical process involved. It is usually necessary to scan some (but not all) of the preceding data.

3. Random Access Storage

Random-access storage media refers to magnetic core, semiconductor, thin film, and bubble storage. Here, a given item of data can be selected from anywhere in storage without having to scan any preceding items. And, the access time is independent of the storage location.

In computing, an access method is a program or a hardware mechanism that moves data between the computer and an outlying device such as a hard disk (or other form of storage) or a display terminal. The term is sometimes used to refer to the mechanics of placing or locating specific data at a particular place on a storage medium and then writing the data or reading it. It is also used to describe the way that data is located within a larger unit of data such as a data set or file. An access method is also an application program interface (API) that a programmer uses to create or access data sets or to read from or write to a display terminal or other output device. Examples are the Virtual Sequential Access Method (VSAM) and the Virtual Telecommunication Access Method (VTAM).