It is amazing how fast hard disk storage is growing in size, yet declining in price. It seems like less than a year ago that 40GB was all you would need. Then we started downloading digital photos, editing video, putting our music files on our PC, downloading podcasts, etc. Suddenly, everyone is running out of room. Â The hard disk manufacturers have been quick to respond. I think the first Terabyte (that’s 1000 gigabytes) drive I heard about was from Buffalo Technologies. They came out with their Terastation home, which now goes up to 2 GB. Â Enter the NAS. Or Network Attached Storage. Initially, these home units could be connecting to a network, but used some software drivers to make them available on a network. But as the technology advanced, and the prices came down. You started to see actual NAS units for the home. Vendors like Maxtor, Linksys and Netgear .
One of the newer companies out is Freedom9 with a very reasonably priced unit. With 4 drive bays you can mix and match. If you add 4x250GB drives you would have 1 Terabyte. If you add 4X750GB drives you would have 3 Terabytes. With this much space you could run some medium sized companies. Why multilple drives you might ask? It’s not just for space, but also for reliability. There are several different ways you can configure the drives. You can mirror them, so if one drive crashes, you would lose zero data.
What’s bringing on this storage revolution. Simple, digital convergence. Your photos, your videos and your music will all reside on your hard disk very soon. All of those files take up a lot of space. A regurlar DVD takes up 4 GB of space. The new HD-DVD or Blu-ray DVDs will take up 50GB of space…and that’s for just one movie. A music file today is usually recorded somewhere between 128 kb to 192 kb for decent sound quality on your iPod or MP3 player. But as we connect more systems together. Suddenly those files sound tinny over that $1,000 surround sound stereo system. So you up the quality to 320 kb. That music files goes from 4MB to 10MB. Then there’s TV. Today many of us have PVRs attached to our cable or satellite. Later this year, PCs will have cable card slots. This will allow you to connect your PC to your cable to receive digital and HDTV signals. A one hour TV show in HD will be about 400MB. If it comes with surround sound you’re looking at 1GB+. Let’s not forget about photos. Did you know that CD’s expire? Yep. The good one’s last about 5-10 years depending on the brand. How many of you bought the cheap brands, because they work just as well? Better start backing up those photo CD’s. I often wonder if archeologists 1000 years from now will be looking at our society and not be able to find any photographic evidence as all the photos were on CDs. So get our there and buy that NAS. Backup your data onto multiple drives… and don’t use CD’s for anything you want to keep for more than a few years.