Storage, Extra Storage and Backup

FTLComm - Tisdale - November 21

Apple Macintosh iMac

Iomega new Zip 200

Iomega Jaz 1 and 2GB

Iomega Ditto

Imation 130MB SuperDrive

Pioneer DVD

LaCie External SCSI or USB

So What's The Problem?
Everyone warns you about the loss of valuable data and urges that you back up the important stuff but in reality, few people heed those warnings. The main reason people do not back up the vital information and data that they have squirrelled away in the computer’s hard drive is that the task is somewhat troublesome and most of us just haven’t developed a system and the hardware to accomplish the task. The facts of life are that hard drives in all makes and types of computers occasionally fail and that failure can, and almost always does, result in the loss of data.

You have your applications that you use on CD, or perhaps even on floppy, but the information, the data itself, is just sitting there on your hard drive. A significant number of people do diligently use floppy disks to back up their valuable documents, especially those with their financial records on them, but floppy disks are even more vulnerable then hard drive stored material. Many of the major manufacturers of floppy disks have shut down their production and these little plastic things will soon become things of antiquity.
Apple’s iMac is the first computer to be introduced into the market place without a floppy drive, but since this computer was designed to be used pretty much as an access unit to the Internet, it relies upon its big 4.3GB drive for storage (no backup).

So what are the options for the average individual and business?
Two years ago the alternative for extra storage and back up was the small sized removable media products built by Iomega and Syquest. Iomega produced the 100MB Zip which is sold as an internal or external unit and Syquest produced the EZ 135 which later became the 230 Flyer. Then for larger removable storage, both companies made 1GB and even 2GB products, the most successful of these was Iomega’s Jaz. Now there are some additional removable storage devices that have been released that seem like a good idea, the Superdisk by Imation offers the users a removable disk storage similar in size to the Zip but able to read and write to an old floppy. I do not recommend any of these products at this time, unless you happen upon one at a real bargain price.

Iomega’s Zip, Jaz and Ditto drives, though producing good back up and storage capabilities, are not as reliable mechanisms as had been hoped for. The only Jaz drive we sold packed it in. The 100MB Zip is really to small for back up purposes now and the Jaz is more costly then a hard drive. Syquest produced excellent products and no one reports problems with them, but those products were sold with to narrow a margin of profit and Syquest has laid off all its workers in August and is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Imation Superdisk is a USB product and has great promise but comes without any disks, when you add up its cost and the disk price you are very close to the price of another hard drive.

So what is the right thing to buy?
There are two excellent alternatives, a larger internal or external hard drive and DVD drives. I favour installing an additional hard drive, simply because it is often such a problem finding where you have stored that back up data on a set of removable disks. However, a hard drive is vulnerable to theft, just as is your computer, and in the case of a fire your data could disappear with your business. DVD (Digital Video Disk) technology is really solid. Huge amounts of data can be stored on these optical disks and their archival nature suggests that they are a permanent record. The drives are coming closer to hard drive prices and if you need removable storage it looks like they are the way to go.

In the interim, a simple and perhaps more cost effective solution is simply to make a CD of your hard drive or its important data. A regular CD can handle just over 600MB of information and takes seventeen minutes to make. Businesses like
FTLComm can carry out this task for you for reasonable money and the results are excellent because you have an archive that can be stored in a remote location and is permanent in its nature.

If you are looking at adding a hard drive, consider (If you are a Windows user) installing a SCSI hard drive. This involved the addition of a card to your computer which will access a SCSI device (seven can be chained together) and the access to this sort of hard drive is very quick. SCSI hard drives are somewhat more expensive then IDE drives, like the one in your present computer, but their speed and reliability are higher.

For Macintosh users we recommend that you add an external SCSI hard drive which is about $100 more then an internal one, simply because this makes the drive portable and you can change computers and your back up or supplemental drive can be used with your new machine. Unless of course you decide to buy an iMac, which does not have a SCSI port, however, the serious business type Macintosh computers continue to have SCSI support as well as being able to add a USB PCI card permitting accessing these low cost USB peripheries.

Whatever option you choose, it still is a good idea to take the most important data you have and back it up, even if you just have partitioned your hard drive and making an archive section. This is better then no back up at all. There is software that can make this process automatic, but you can accomplish the task manually just as well, if you establish a habit of doing it one day or night a week.

The bottom line is, you are living far to close to the edge if you are not taking the precaution of backing up valuable data.