It has come to my attention that there are many needs for storage. Some users need an immediate, working storage while others need to store data long term. After doing a bit of research for a friend, I came across some very intuitive solutions for three individual needs.
At some point, you have to make a decision. You hear a horror story of your friends computer “exploding” and the data loss is total. Another friend drops their laptop and the hard drive is fragged beyond recovery. It could happen. The probability is more likely than you would like to think. I have personally felt this sting. Around the time the first few digital cameras showed up on the scene I owned a Kodak EasyShare 1st Gen. It was a beast but it took good pictures and was easy to use. For some time, I was the guy at the party or dinner or sporting event that was always taking pictures. I was a walking strobe. This was the late 90’s and no one was too aware or had developed a pretentious attitude toward my need to capture everything from food to awkward poses.
Then it happened. Some time around 2001 I managed to format my entire hard drive. True story. It was my first experience partitioning a drive and instead of a partition I formatted my entire drive. All 300 MB (big hard drive back then). Yup, all 2000+ images gone. From that point on I began planning backs up and bought a CD burner and never looked back.
In today’s world, storing data is easy. I have found three ideas for storage that fit the majority of everyone’s needs. I am sure there are better ideas and possibilities but I found these three suitable.
- Drobo (http://www.drobo.com/) or Data Robotics, Inc.
Everyone needs a working storage. No need to second guess, the fastest and easiest way to store your data is to back it up to an appliance next to you home office or workstation. Drobo is hot and has some of the latest technology. It’s built-in file sharing abilities can expand your local network into the 12-13 TB range with ease. I have seen the hardware in personal and it’s slick. It’s not only a “top of the desk” item to show off but it’s owners are proud of it from the ease of use. Be prepared for specs and stats to be thrown at you. It’s BeyondRAID technology and automated data protection make it reliable and “Self-Healing”. It continually looks over each drive keeping them in the most optimal and safest state as possible. Win Win. With a price tag starting around $320 on Amazon.com, the smallest hardware appliance can hold up to 8TB of data (actual 5.5 TB available; 1.8 TB for protection; 7.4GB overhead). The price climbs as the newer, bigger solutions are sought after.
- Google Storage
This may be an odd selection but recently Google slashed their storage prices to compete and made itself a competitor in a possible storage provider. A few things you may need to know up front. While Drobo provides a local access file structure, Google requires you to use one of the two avenues of access. The first is Google’s Photo management software Picasa. This amazing app has changed my thoughts on storing images. I use Google storage combined with Picasa to store ALL of my images on the internet. A bonus is that I have access to my collection where ever there is a computer. If you are a frequent photographer (non-professional) I would suggest Picasa (http://picasa.google.com). You will thank me. For those of us who still find the need to store large amounts of data (100MB to 60 GB to 800GB to 8TB) you may need to know the Google Docs now allows uploads of ANY file type. Why is this useful? This is useful because now you can purchase space to hold computer back ups, DVD’s of old home videos, CD’s full of photos, digital documents like wedding certificates, tax documentation and on and on. Google is well established as a secure site and of course, your privacy is a high priority. You may be required to learn a few new “techniques” when it comes to file management but the plus side is it’s cheap. It’s an annual fee (http://picasa.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=39567) and you can access your data from anywhere in the world. I purchased the 200 GB storage for $50 a year. Perfect for me! Of course, with it being web based your access would be slower than you may like. If you want fast access, chose a hardware solution.
- Amazon S3 (http://aws.amazon.com/s3/)
For my high tech friends and those who have begun venturing into cloud computer, Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is making it’s way into being a viable solution for long term storage. Amazon has an awesome infrastructure and has led in the realm of shared computing. What this means for you is a highly durable storage opportunity for mega tons of data. It’s complicated and setting this up may require advice from a current account user or your local tech nerd, but the cost structure is quite confusing. For having them store your data, the standard (first 50TB) pricing is $0.150 per GB a month. Yes. That’s absolutely correct. The best part is the more you store, the less it becomes. If you plan on storing 5000 TB, you can get the $0.055 per GB plan. Let’s crunch some numbers. You are a photographer and you have a photo session of RAW photos and edited photos. The entire work is almost 30 GB. On the first tier, your storage on Amazon S3 would amount to $4.50 a month for the entire session to be archived indefinitely. $54.00 a year to hold onto this session. Who knows. Someone may contact the photographer down the road and say, “We lost our prints and want to know if you still have the entire session.” While the long term solution for storing data safely may rack up over the years, don’t jump on board just yet. The down side to Amazon S3 is the data transfer rates. You are charged a small amount for every GB you transfer as well. Use of this service as a storage hold (it is used for so much more) has its advantages and disadvantages.
It seems each idea has it’s positive and it’s negative. Your solution may be outside this realm but I believe covering the working storage arena to the long term data holds are great ideas to spark your own ingenuity. There is no question we are amassing more data every day. Whether the memory chip on your cell phone or the flip recorder storage, it’s filling up faster and faster everyday. Storing your data safely and securely is a priority that applies to everyone.