Disk Solutions 2016

My brother is a teacher and he sent me a text and a pic of a broken 500gb external drive he uses for simple backups.  He was asking the questions a lot of us are asking these days: how to store all of our data, short term/accessible and long term.

When I think about the question, for me, the big issues are:

  • Accessibility — slow or fast, always up, bandwidth, how do you get the data there/back, reliability
  • Security — safe from hacking/encrypted?
  • Cost — the balance between a local drive vs. cloud storage
  • Reliability — local drives break, clouds can break even more disastrously but less often (this just happened at work to our Azure firewall servers
  • Interaction — will you use it for time machine/real time backups? As an extended drive, media streaming etc?

Here is my reply as a developer:

I use a few solutions and its not there yet.  It’s complicated for me because of my needs.

Google Drive and DropBox; I use these for all my local daily stuff — up to date bills/finance, scanning (my scanner goes directly to google), sharing.  Both dropbox and google require local cache/storage. I might be storing 10 gigs max on these — also I have accounts on a few others (i.e. that server I uploaded business vids on).  I don’t do big storage on these because network isn’t there — its slow — THEY are slow.  Even over cable.  These services like them or Carbonite recommend sending in large data drives.  With 500 gb you probably could just put it up there yourself.

I have a lot of data.  I have two NAS servers, and old on that had a total of 3 TB accessible (6 terrabytes of drives raid 1 mirroring over 4 drives) — this device is 10 years old so bought a new one:.   5 TBs mirrored (10 tb total) on two drives.  I use these for long term storage and media streaming.   I have all of my extensive music collection, my movies, and digital photos, finances, important docs all digitized dating back to the late 1990’s.  Total data I actually have is probably about 3 tb but will grow with photos/media.  I also have old software libraries and work files, that take up a ton of space.  Will probably archive these on old external drives and dump over time. The data is too large to stream up and back at times for today’s services.

I keep several old hard drives around, enclosures and cables. These are good for small tasks — bare metal backups, moving larger files between work/home ‘puter; you just never know. For the 5 TB raided NAS I have a matching external drive I backup to.  Mirroring isn’t a total backup because rive errors get propogated; the other I keep in a fire case.  Also I have acronis that I keep live on my Win machine that backs up in real time when the NAS are on, automatically.  A licence is super cheap.

You can probably pop out that drive and buy new enclosure or a mutli-drive cable, I have one something like this for a while — good in a pinch, not for travel though:


But, with that much data (which isn’t too much), I would look at cloud storage (Google, Drop Box) — check the costs.  Still not cost effective enough for me.  Also, have to be aware of security — are your files password protected?  Check the services, many differ.

Also you’d have to check how you interact with the service.  Needing files/service all the time different than “backup”/intermittent use.  In which case, a google/dropbox for daily and a long term backup – Carbonite etc. — good idea.

What do we all want?  Terabytes of secure space accessible in real time on the cloud.  It’s just not there yet . . . or at least not at a good price.

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