September 20, 2004
Data storage solutions
One consequence of writing a column called Internet Resources, is that I get onto all kinds of mailing lists. It’s a mixed blessing, since sometimes I’d rather not receive the stuff I do.
Recently, though, I got a press release from Hitachi about a new storage system they are bringing to market. It’s wonderful, according to the release, and well it might be, since the price starts at $700,000 (U.S.) and goes up from there.
But with Christmas approaching, my gift-giving problems are solved. Just send a system to everyone on my list.
Still, I was going to write about online storage this week, partly because I’ve been talking about networks for the last two columns, partly because online storage is such a good idea, and partly because even small companies can now afford the service. No, it won’t cost you $700,000.
Online storage can take several forms. Some systems are much like the extranets I’ve been writing about, which are really management systems that allow you to share files with selected friends/clients/partners, while providing secure back-ups and storage. Some, though, don’t provide long-term storage.
Or online storage can be simply an offshoot of online backups. In fact, online backup systems allow you to retrieve selected files if you accidentally trashed some, for example, or if you need to recover a clean copy of a file that has become corrupted. The problem, again, though, is that some systems don’t permit long-term storage.
Two outfits—X-Drive and Storagepipe—take different approaches.
X-Drive lets you store files and folders online and share them if you want. It’s a browser-based system, which means you can access it from anywhere you have an Internet connection—a hotel room, your home office, wherever. Using it is just like using your own computer, except that data is stored at an online data centre instead of on your computer’s hard drive.
Storagepipe offers a more specialized system. It offers secure backup and restore service, of course. And it also has its Vault service, which is aimed directly at long-term storage of information you really must keep, like the financial records your friendly tax man wants you to hang onto. It would also be a good place to store such things as records of completed projects, so that you can have ready access to drawings should a problem arise a year, or two, or three down the line.
Once stored in the Vault service, your data is no longer available online. Should you need your tax records from 1999, for example, you would need to ask Storagepipe to remount the physical tape so you can download the data.
Having to make a request means it’s not as quick as using a pure online service, but this is archived material, after all, not something you are likely to need access to very often—if ever.
There is no file-sharing capability with Storagepipe. As I said, it’s a more specialized service.
Both X-drive and Storagepipe have plans in various price ranges, depending upon how much data you need to store. But all are easily within the range of most small businesses. Both are well worth a look.
I subscribe to an online backup system myself, and it proved invaluable when my hard drive died. A serviceman put a new drive in, and I was soon back online. Then it took maybe half an hour recover all my data, which arrived intact with no problems. Nothing was lost.
I’ve also used the service occasionally to retrieve old files, or old versions of files. The experience has made me a big fan of online services.
X-Drive is at www.xdrive.com
Storagepipe is at www.storagepipe.com
Neither, you may be sure, is a $700,000 system.
You’re always welcome to comment on anything you see in this column, or suggest topics for discussion. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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