A Lesson In Backup: Taking Care Of Your Data

External Storage For Consumers

The demand for storage capacity continues to grow unabated in the business world as well as in the consumer sector. As home users use up their PC's hard disk capacity, extra storage space is becoming harder to come by despite ever-increasing sizes for today’s modern hard drives. In this editorial, we explore backup strategies and use Samsung’s new external disk drive, the Story Station, as our guinea pig to put them to work.

Consumer Electronics Generate Humongous Files

At home, entertainment and consumer electronics devices consume the most storage capacity. That is, frequent use of digital photo and video cameras and personal video recorders (PVRs) can quickly result in file collections that consume hundreds of gigabytes, if not multiple terabytes of disk space when they are archived on a PC or transferred to a PC for editing and post-processing.

Internal or External Drives?

When the storage space available on a computer dwindles, users have only a few options: they can either delete no-longer-needed files or they can boost the storage space available to them by adding disk drives. Because erasing files is a less-than-ideal option in most cases, an increase in storage space is the only real choice worth making.

Perhaps the most popular way to add storage or backup capacity to a PC is to hook up an external hard disk with a USB, eSATA, or FireWire connection (all of these qualify as direct-attached storage [DAS] technologies). This is the easiest way to go because it's just a matter of plugging in power and data cables, with no need to crack the PC case open.

Certainly, more effort is involved in installing and hooking up additional internal drives (assuming open drive bays and internal storage ports are available). If that's the route you want to go, it's necessary to disconnect the PC, open up its chassis, and start messing around with the drives, power supply, and data cables. And because more households are turning away from conventional desktop to notebook or compact PCs (such as nettops), it’s trickier to swap out a smaller, existing hard drive for something newer and bigger. Too often, replacing hard drives requires a complete reinstall of the operating system, which is an exercise that doesn’t bother PC enthusiasts, but involves too much effort for more mainstream users.

Simple and Uncomplicated Rule the Roost

Storage vendors, such as Seagate, Maxtor, and LaCie, jumped on the external storage bandwagon early, and have long offered simple, straightforward storage solutions to their customers. In this market segment today, users will encounter a plethora of offerings and options. Most recently, this includes the Samsung Story Station, an external USB 2.0-attached hard disk that comes in 500 GB, 1 TB, and 1.5 TB capacities (the biggest drive is its newest addition, having just hit the market in June 2009).

File Organization and Backup

Given the extraordinary capacities that hard disks deliver these days, proper file system organization is the key to successful file management. The right file-archiving system enables quick location and retrieval of files, while a carefully-crafted backup strategy provides protection against file damage or loss. Together, these elements define the best file-management practices, which are not only important in a business setting, but are also of critical importance for most home users as well.

Marcel Binder