What do you do when you've got a device that creates very valuable 2MB files with the press of a button, an action that you may repeat up to 600 times an hour (maybe 20GB a week)? You end up buying another device, such as this puppy: the 500GB Lacie D2 HD Quadra 7200RPM 16MB external drive. I had never before heard of LaCIE, a French concern, but this drive seemed to fit the bill as a backup device. It has a reasonable dollars per gigabyte number, the reviews seemed encouraging, and I went ahead and paid the extra $60 to get the Firewire-capable model as this seems to be recommended over USB for sustained reads and writes typical of an external drive.
PriceGrabber got me thinking about the whole backup plan from the dollars per gigabyte angle for different types of storage devices, summarized here:
|Tech||Sample Product||Price w/ S&H||Capacity||$/GB|
|DVD-R||Verbatim DVD-R 16x 100-pack||$42.27||470GB||$0.09/GB|
|external HD||500GB Lacie D2 HD Quadra 7200RPM 16MB||$182.60||500 GB||$0.36/GB|
|flash memory||PNY 4GB USB flash drive||$31.89||4 GB||$7.97/GB|
The USB flash drive, on the other hand, is a terrible choice for long term storage, as far as I can tell. That salesman at the electronics store certainly had a lot of nerve trying to talk my Dad out of buying blank CDs in favor of buying a flash drive. The advantage of flash drives is portability, not economics. They weren't looking much cheaper than $8 a gigabyte on PriceGrabber for 1GB and up.
I've left out some options here which I didn't research as much. I've left out the venerable tape backup as well as internal hard drives and NAS. Internal hard drives in a RAID might be a good alternative to the single external drive because you get some automatic failure detection. And the NAS, or Network Attached Storage, goes one better in simplicity.
For this exercise, I've included in my personal backup plan ditching the idea of an "archive quality" medium such as tape in favor of any storage medium which has a long enough life to copy the data onto something newer.
Another idea is to build layers of redundance; one backup is not good enough, and maybe not even two. Somewhere in the back of my head in all this is my dear Grandma's judgment of disgust at the idea of computers, where you can erase everything at the press of a button. This information vulnerability is certainly an Achille's Heel of computing, and it's been an interesting exercise to price out and plan a moderately serious backup system. I'm certainly a novice to this, so if you have some experience to share, I'm all ears.