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Data carrier, physical

The term data carrier (also storage medium) refers to media that serve as data storage, e.g. for data of any kind that is read or written by computers or computer systems or peripheral devices. This also includes data carriers for entertainment such as music or film which are played or stored with the aid of electronic devices.

As the name suggests, a physical data carrier is something that can be touched and transported. Files or software can be stored on physical data carriers. These data carriers include CDs, DVDs, Blue-ray Discs, USB sticks and hard disks.

In the past, software was distributed exclusively on physical media. Today, this is much more convenient and faster: Electronic Software Download (ESD) allows software licenses to be purchased online, whereupon the customer receives an installation key by e-mail, which he can use to download the program from a server to his own computer.