Why today’s digital age calls for multiple data storage technologies
Once upon a time, the 700 MB of digital storage space that a CD allowed seemed massive. Today, GB and TB are the acronyms consumers usually seek. Businesses are looking at much larger solutions such as:
- petabyte (PB) equals 1,024 TB
- exabyte (EB) equals 1,024 PB
- zettabyte (ZB), equals 1,024 EB
- yottabyte (YB), equals 1,024 ZB
And for more mind-numbing terms, there are brontobytes, geopbytes, xenottabytes, shilentnobytes and domegemegrottebytes!
The problem with preserving everything is that we quickly run out of space—even in the digital realm. Experts estimate that more than 2.7 zettabytes of data exist in the digital universe today. And about 90% of that has been created in the last few years!
Big Data vs. Long Data
Big Data is certainly a buzzword among businesses today. Right now, companies use Big Data to analyze trends and behaviors. But over time, years of raw data will enable long-term mining to yield even more insights. That’s Long Data. And it’s a greedy beast when it comes to storage space.
Long Data’s need to store years’ and decades’ worth of data is spurring research into new ways to increase storage capacity. From salt crystals to human DNA, nothing is too exotic when it comes to the digital storage solutions of big business.
Types of data storage for the rest of us
Most consumers want to be able to archive family photos, music, and video libraries. Small businesses need to back up critical documents.
But most types of data storage don’t have a long life. Plus, storage solutions become obsolete or corrupted over time. So, it’s important to remind your customers to transfer their files to multiple data storage solutions every few years. And, for at least one of those options, use the latest storage technology.
Also stress that backup storage should physically be kept in several locations. If backups are only kept in a home or business, a natural disaster can wipe them out in a flash.
Optical media is a tried and true technology, even though many computers no longer come with a CD/DVD drive. External optical burners bridge the gap, providing both creation and playback capabilities.
CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays not only function as music and video playback forms, but as storage too. CDs can hold 700 MB. DVDs store 4.7 GB. And Blu-Ray single layer discs hold 25 GB, double-layer ones 50 GB, and tri-layer ones 100 GB.
A relatively recent development is archival-grade DVD discs that should last for decades, if not centuries. The M-DISC for example engraves data on a patented, inorganic write layer that will not deteriorate. According to the company, data on an M-DISC should last 1,000 years! No other form of physical media can even approach that life-span.
M-DISCs do require compatible optical burners and players. These burners and players are also compatible with standard discs too, so choosing an M-DISC compatible device doesn’t close the doors on others.
External drives—hard drives, SSD drives, and flash drives
With their large capacity and small footprint, all forms of external drives are ideal for data storage solutions. And because they are so small, they can be stored off-site for safety and security. Hard drives with their spinning discs are more prone to damage and failure due to moving parts. Solid state and flash drives are more travel friendly. SSD drives in particular may well trump traditional hard drives—both as internal and external hard drives.
The SD Card has come a long way since its first appearance in digital cameras back in 1999. The SD Association, founded by Panasonic, SanDisk, and Toshiba, sets the standards behind this ubiquitous memory card. Generally broken into Standard SD, miniSD and microSD sizes, these cards now go way beyond camera usage.
The SD Association points out 8 areas that will see even more microSD memory card usage in 2019:
- Gaming devices for storing downloaded game software as well as actual games themselves
- Smartphones and tablets for downloads that can be accessed when away from the Internet
- High tech toys
- Expansion of smartphone memory in developing countries
- Drones with cameras for capturing images in flight
- IoT (Internet of Things) technologies
- New automotive technologies
- Wearables, including head mounted displays and VR and AR terminals
The organization also continues to release new standards such as SD Express and microSD Express. These will provide higher performance and higher capacity external storage comparable to SSD levels. And SD Ultra Capacity will bring support to cards with up to 128 TB of storage!
Remind your customers that newer cards and formats are usually NOT backward compatible, but newer devices are. Just because a type of card will fit in the device’s card slot doesn’t mean it will function properly!
As our dependency on mobile devices grows, so has the specialized tech to physically transfer data off of those devices. After all, if something should happen to that smartphone, a lot of irreplaceable images would be lost. And for smartphones without expandable storage slots, it’s very easy to run out of room.
For your customers unwilling to offload to the Cloud, both USB flash drives and memory cards have been adapted to provide backup data storage solutions for smartphones and other mobile OTG devices. There are also specialized adapter cables, card readers, and even card readers with built-in view screens, handy for trail cams.
Cloud online backup
Data storage solutions should include the Internet. Once data is stored online, it’s accessible from anywhere that has access to the Internet. No worries about discs, drives, or cards! There are sites that offer free storage, but they have a cap as to storage capacity. If your customers’ needs exceed free, they will need to pay a fee. And consumers need to be aware that if photos are involved, the free option may be at reduced resolutions.
The Internet does have some down sides:
- It requires access to the Internet
- Adequate Internet upload and download speeds may be an issue
- Any Internet-based system will be subject to service outages
- Companies go out of business, leaving files inaccessible or lost
- Services accessible from the Internet can be hacked, raising security and privacy concerns
- If fees are required, the files can be locked or deleted for nonpayment
Finally, there’s the undeniable sense of psychological and emotional security that comes with physical ownership of a product. Physical media products provide comfort in ways the Cloud simply cannot.
When it comes specifically to photos, you might encourage customers to actually print out their most important photos on acid-free or archival-quality photo paper. Photos can always be rescanned should digital versions be lost.
The National Archives recommends these steps for storing print photos:
- Temperatures below 75°F
- Relative humidity below 65% and above 15%
- On shelves up away from away pipes and leaks from roofs and windows
- Away from direct sunlight
And to store acetate negatives, color negatives, and slides the National Archives recommends cold storage and proper prep.
Archiving the past for the future
Laptops and smartphones are stolen. Hard drives fail. Natural disasters destroy everything. Fortunately, customers wanting to store their memories have multiple options:
- They can rely entirely on Internet-based services
- They choose from different types of physical products
- Or they can do a combination of these things
That’s the great thing about data storage solutions: they don’t have to a single format or method—nor should they. Encourage your customers to come up with a long-term game plan to back up what’s most important—along with continually replacing and updating that playback technology. For example, what good is an M-DISC without a functioning, compatible optical drive?
In today’s shifting digital landscape, it’s more important than ever to utilize a supplier who’s in the loop, dependable, and here to stay. Choose Petra to be your reliable, fast, and efficient distributor for all of your CE accessory needs.