I do photography and video. By video, I mean creating, not just watching (although, I do that, too). With computers, over the years, I’ve started with 10 MB disks (back in the DEC Rainbow days) to, now, 4 TB disks. To put that in perspective, my Rainbow’s disk could be replicated 400,000 times in the new 4 TB disk. Another way to look at this, if I took the 10 MB disk drive and added another and another, to get to 4 TB, I’d have 37 miles of disk drives.
Now, what’s even more interesting, I actually have about 12 TB worth of disk drives. The 4 TB one is just the newest in my collection. So, really, I’ve got 148 miles of 10 MB drives.
Actually, as time goes on, the needs one has for storage grow. With my first computer, I was tinkering with text files and spreadsheets. Today, photographs, audio files, video content, and the other odds and ends I have require a lot of storage. So, 148 miles isn’t outrageous.
I was perplexed at my strategy for how I actually store things. I had some disks with photos, others with videos, and always worried if my disks could keep up with the demand. Then, there’s the worry that a drive might fail. (It’s happened more than once.) Disk drives are amazing technologies. They are designed to run and run, spinning their spindles, for hundreds of thousands of hours. They are designed to power up and power down thousands of times. Yet, as with anything mechanical, they can fail.
So, what’s my strategy? I suppose I could store my stuff on CD’s and DVD’s. But, over time, these, too, are said to be vulnerable. I don’t know the chemistry that could affect them, but I’ve heard 10-20 years. My stuff is too precious to rely on that.
I’ve always believed that, as time went on, the technologies would improve and the old storage would be replaced by new. Sure enough, going from 10 MB to 4 TB is proof that something like that happens. But, here’s a new wrinkle. What about calamity? How to you take that into consideration?
I used to work for a department in my company that designed storage products and solutions. We looked at storage as one of three things: online, nearline, and farline. (I guess you could say online and offline, where the later was either close or far away.)
With the disks I have on hand, I decided to apply the strategy I had learned about at work. Suddenly, things began to get simpler. Online was the stuff in my computer that I worked with all the time. Nearline was the backup disk sitting just a few inches from my actual computer. There’s another nearline, though. I placed a remote disk within my home but away from my work area. Why? Well, any fire or water damage to my immediate area could kill both primary and nearline stuff. So, having a 2nd nearline in a faraway part of the house kind of makes sense.
Finally, there’s farline. I use a couple services for this. For all my photos and important videos, I’m on the Amazon Glacial Storage bandwagon. It’s cheap. Additionally, Amazon has a photos-only service wich is interesting. There are other companies that offer these kinds of services and I will keep checking them out.