Insure Your Data Against Hardware Failures
On his 11-Jun-2010 MMGL, Mohan garu expressed his plight with a failed external drive, and mentioned that he lost important data, and could not recover.
Of late, the average user started to digitise lots of his information, and stores this information on a hard disk. By virtue a hard disk is a electro-mechanical device, and hence has an inherent possibility for a failure. Though technology has surpassed, reliability of hard drives substantially improved, no manufacturer can ever guarantee that their hard drives would not fail! The warranty any manufacturer gives you is for the hardware, and not for the data inside the hard drive!
I used to tell people, till you buy a computer, laptop, hand phone, or the new geek, iPad, it is a costlier piece. But when you start using it, rely on it, then it no longer a costly piece, but rather what lies inside or what you store inside becomes much more costly.
By far, solid state memory (thumb drives) is more reliable, but the it is still expensive from the point of $/Gigabyte. The cheapest is tape. And in between is a DVD-ROM/ CD-ROM disk.
You can backup upto 700MB on a CD, while you can back up close to 4.5GB per layer on DVD Disk (dual layer about 9GB, and probably Bluray will provide in the range of 20GB per disk). Thumb drives (solid sate memory) are fast emerging like a 8GB drive costs less than $30.
But these capacities are getting smaller when compared to the digitised information, an average user is generating for his personal use (like Photos, Music, videos, documents) etc.
There was a time when the small, simple floppy drive of 512KB was a big thing to store our information!
People buy pocket drives to sync their laptop or desktop data. Or many people buy external drives to store data when they find that they have reached limits on their computer devices.
If you are buying an external storage drive to store beyond your device capacities, be mindful of securing that data. As mentioned above warranty is not an insurance against lost data.
The ideal solution is to buy 2 x External drives (of same capacity) to mirror your data onto these drives. Even if one drive fails, you can still recover from the other.
External drives with mirroring ability, or RAID protection for home users are just emerging now (enterprises are using these solutions since mid 90s). Vendors are charging a premium when you want more resilience for your storage (like, it costs $200 for 1 tera byte (TB) (1 TB = 1000GB).
Let us hope these costs go down rapidly as many people start buying these products, and both competition and mass market to drive down the costs.