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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Digital Storage

WD PiDrive 314GB
via Posthip Scott
I have a 250 GB hard drive sitting on my desk. It's plugged into an adapter that connects it to my Chromebook via a USB cable. I've started keeping more stuff there instead of on Google, mostly pictures and code. Either I don't understand Google's scheme for handling pictures, or we are just incompatible, I'm not quite sure what the problem is. It might be that the internet has gotten a little flaky. Nothing worse when you are trying to get something done and the net decides to hiccup (ain't nobody got time for that). The hard drive may crap out some day, but right now it is pretty solid.
Kingston SSD Now V300 120 GB Solid State Drive $43.98
Except it's not. It's a disk, a spinning, rotating, piece of metal inside a box. Nothing solid about it at all. Not too long ago Tam (or Roberta, I forget) needed to transfer some files and, casting about for a quick and easy way to get the job done, settled on using a thumb drive to transfer these files to her laptop, which had a solid-state disk. At first I poo-poo-d this idea: 'a solid state disk is never going to be as reliable as a real hard disk, you know, one with an actual disk in it'. But then I realized that that time had passed, and as comfortable as I am with hard disks, they are mechanical devices, and like all mechanical devices, they will eventually fail. Solid state disks will also fail eventually, but it won't be because the bearing wore out. In fact, both kinds of devices are more likely to fail due to a solder joint failing or a transistor losing its doping due to a cosmic ray strike. Or being hit with a hammer.

SanDisk Optimus MAX 4 TB Solid State Drive $6,985.44
    In any case solid-state disks are cost about the same as old style rotary disks these days. Unless you want more capacity than the average bear.
   But none of this fixes the real problem, which is how do you maintain reliable long term storage? Barring* the collapse of civilization, digital electronic storage is the way to go, and given that all man made devices eventually fail, the only way to ensure that all your stuff remains accessible is to have multiple copies, like one copy on your desk and one somewhere in the great and benevolent cloud. What I really want is a Wifi enabled box with some quantity of storage space that automatically copies its to the web. Shouldn't have to worry about it until the box fails. There probably is such an animal out there somewhere, but it's lunch time and I'm hungry.

*Barring, with two 'r's, is the doggy version of bar. Baring, with one 'r', is the doggy version of bare. Because I wasn't sure. 'Doggy' is filling in for some arcane grammatical termski.

Update November 2017 edited the html for the first picture because it wasn't showing up, even though the link was valid. I eliminated some redundant formatting and link controls and this might have fixed the problem. We shall see. Update: it didn't. Replaced remote picture with local copy.

Update April 2018 replaced missing picture.

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