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April 5th, 2013

storage venn diagramIn 1984, a 10MB (yes, 10 megabyte) desktop hard drive cost over $600, for a storage cost of $60 per MB. Today, a 3TB (3 terabyte) desktop drive costs around $120, for a storage cost of $0.00004 per MB. That’s four one-thousandths of a cent, or 1.5 million times less costly. Among the many tech sector miracle stories—Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in one garage, iMac progenitors Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in another, and so on—this one is difficult to top. Of course, there’s also Moore’s Law, Deep Blue, nanotechnology, and the Mars Rover—science is awesome, isn’t it?

With storage costs still plummeting, some of the original computer dos and don’ts are being retired—namely, the ones about keeping your hard drive clear of old files and miscellaneous junk. Every major desktop OS (Mac, any flavor of Windows, Unix) has utilities to keep things tidy enough to avert disasters, and some run in the background and/or do scheduled maintenance. This is a big change over 1984, and so are the kinds of storage people are using now to back up their MacBook files, store their ever-growing mounds of media, and share files in the house or office on a “private cloud.” First up, a quick review of today’s digital storage technologies. Let’s go!

Acronyms galore

DAS (Direct-Attached Storage): This category covers external storage devices (commonly referred to as “external hard drives”) connected via USB, Firewire, and eSATA, for the most part. These range from memory cards, sticks, and thumb drives to independently powered hard drives with huge capacities. DAS devices are easy to use, offer multiple TB (terabytes) of storage, connect instantly to PC desktop rentals or Macs, and are inexpensive.

RAID, SAN: CRE offers RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Discs) and Xserve RAID (the Apple version) rentals , which offer even more mass storage for the complex requirements of business. SANs (Storage Area Networks) are also larger, more robust, more complicated systems to run, hence their absence from the home (except for übergeeks).

NAS (Network-Attached Storage): The NAS category is the missing link, bridging the gap between the low cost, capability, and complexity of DAS and the high ones of RAIDs and SANs. These typically have more features and greater storage capacity than DAS devices—as this famous article from 2004, still cited today, makes clear—and data on an NAS device can be shared across the office or the world via the Internet. Less complicated and requiring fewer configuration steps and tech know-how to set up than a business-class SAN, NAS devices are the flexible alternative.

Cloud: There’s no acronym for it, but the cloud is also up and running as a personal and business storage solution. Interestingly, some NAS vendors are offering a cloud service for sharing data (to keep abreast of that “social marketing” thing), and you can identify these by the term “cloud-based NAS.”

NAS may be “just right”

Business-level NAS devices, such as the Buffalo TeraStation, may have a cloud service for sharing data, but it’s not a highlighted feature. Businesses normally confine sharing within their own secure networks, or allow remote access—from a home-worker’s computer, a CRE iPad rental, and any kind of smartphone at all—by properly securing ports and/or setting up port forwarding. Fact is, today’s NAS devices are capable of much more than storing data, functioning as servers for  iTunes, e-mail, databases, and media; performing FTP tasks; and integrating with social media, photo sharing, and content sites like Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

NAS diagram

Further emphasizing their flexibility, some NAS devices can be configured with low-cost video surveillance systems by dint of the storage device’s ability to integrate with IP (Internet Protocol) cameras. Clearly, NAS solutions offer more power and versatility than simple external hard drives, without the cost, complexity, and maintenance challenges of a SAN system. Do it right, and your NAS will work like your very own private cloud. You’ll love the view!  If you’re looking to rent one, CRE can get you set up.

From trade show convention rentals to cutting-edge post-production gear, the solution to your challenge is right here. Call us at (877) 266-7725, or send us a message, and we’ll be on it ASAP. As always, if you know what you need, a short visit to our Quick Rental Quote page and you’ll be done ASAP, too!

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