Posts Tagged ‘hard drives’

I’ve been trying to get my office more organized lately and this includes trying to find a solid, affordable way to always have back ups of all my digital data. Since what I do now for a living is record long, high resolution timelapses, I also shoot about 10,000 pictures a year, and in years past I shot tons of video on DV most of which is in half completed projects on various hard drives. On top of that, we’ve been sorting through some data transfer problems with our software which has led to a bunch of drive failures. Most people wouldn’t have encountered this problem but if you tell windows XP to copy more than about 900,000 files at a time, your computer will crash in a spectacular way. If you haven’t turned of write-caching on all your drives, you have a pretty could chance that one or both of you drives – the original and the backup – now have corrupted Master File Tables (MFT’s). Which mostly means you are totally f**ked. However, the good news is that as far as we can tell, XP’s Service Pack 3 seems to have fixed this issue.

So anyways, a couple of days ago I pulled all the drives I have lying around and attempted to label them. The result… I have 13 hard drives ranging from 120 to 750 GB in size, all with partial duplications of all my images, data, video and so on. 3 or 4 of these partially or totally dead from copy failures, but have the only backup of much of the other data, so I am afraid to wipe them to make room for other backups. I have about another 700GB of data on my main computer in 3 drives that is only partially backed up, and about 500GB of data from an ongoing project that needs to find a backed up home. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I’ll spare y’all the rest of the details except to say that data management for users who can’t afford massive enterprise level disk arrays is still in the dark ages.

What prompted this post though was the vision I have of a future where this problem is solved. I wish there was a cheap disk array where you could just slot all the drives you own in and then tell the machine to collate them, move the data around, back it up and so on. Seems like at least simple drive interface hardware is finally getting here with hot-swap in eSATA, etc, but if you look at the NAS systems under say $800, they rarely handle more than a few disks and about 25% of users suffer massive data failure problems with almost ever system I’ve seen on the market so far (peruse the reviews for NAS systems on newegg.com to see what I’m talking about).

So what I want to see is this… When everything finally makes it to solid state, I have this vision of just having a rack of mini storage devices, kind of like a stack of instant access DV tapes that you could use all at once. The hardware would treat the whole thing like one giant dynamic disk array and collate all my data in a smart, redundant way. if I need more space, I just buy a few more storage components and stick em at the top of the stack, whenever there is extra space, the top drives just show green and you can pull them out and plug them them in your video camera or laptop, whatever needs extra storage.

So how far away is this? I’d guess 5 or 10 years, but its been more than a decade now since computers really became fully mainstream and I’m still crawling around in the dust behind my computer all the time trying to jiggle sensitive components in and out of poorly designed desktop cases and motherboards, so who knows. While we’re dreaming, when is someone going to start making computer components and computer cases that are simple, modular and easy to service. I mean it is 2008, I can see where all my friends are in realtime on my iPhone, do I really have to be trying to snake some tiny SATA cable into a connector that is blocked by my video card and two hard drives. Please, someone fix this – you will make millions.


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