So it’s 1999 (party like is 1999! – Gears of War 2 achievement for those who know what I am talking about) and your 3GB HDD is crammed with mp3s, some digital photos – I say some because you can’t afford a digital camera at the moment – and you’re thinking “I should get me a 200$ CD Writer, I hear those TEAC are bitchin'”. And you eventually get enough cash to buy one. And you start burning your precious mp3s on CDs up to the point you realize that you have to keep popping CDs into your drive to listen to your music – bummer.
Let’s fast forward to…let’s say 2005 – DVDs are all the rage, you got that awesome (Asus) DVD writer which packs 4GB of data onto a single disc. In the meanwhile your cheap CDs have rotted from the inside out because of poor engineering – the discs that were supposed to last forever started to break down(??). Anyway, you pack all your important stuff on the cute blueish discs thinking this will free up your awesome 250GB HDD onto which you install your games. And the DVDs start to pile up, and pile… You buy yourself that great disc storage… thingie.
Back to the future, it’s 2007 and you have amassed quite the DVD collection when you notice – oh, no, DVDs rot as well. Jinkies! Now, sure some of the stuff on your DVDs is expendable – maybe all of it. You had already the lesson from the CDs and keep all your important things on your PC’s HDD. But still, you are somewhat disappointed that some of the discs have started failing. You have since learned that it is impossible to tell if a DVD batch is made in China, India or some boat in international waters. Only after buying the disc can you read the media code and discover where it is from. Japanese discs are clearly the best but hey, you don’t always have the time to chase down that elusive Sony DVD.
Present time, 2010. You have since packed 4 to 5 HDDs in your PCs case, your power source(PSU) is eating up a 1kW of power or something like that; you’re not happy, again. You are painfully aware that HDDs fail as well. All your work is backed up on at least one extra disk. What now?
Let’s reiterate: CDs suck, DVDs suck, HDDs are cool but you can’t have too many of those running at a time so you should keep upgrading your HDDs to higher capacity, better performing, newer and less failure prone ones. But that is expensive you say? Actually, not if you don’t throw away your older disks. I will explain in a moment.
10+ years of happy computing have passed, your digital collection is huge by ’99 standards and you don’t trust DVDs as well. Wait, what about the elusive blu-ray disc? Well, for starters it’s still a disc, based on the same technologies as the DVD, just seriously more packed, data wise. Sure, the price of a blank blu-ray disc has dropped a bit but it’s simpy not worth spending 10$ for a 25GB disc that might or might not breakdown in the future. I have considered this for a long time – getting a blu-ray writer to save my data and clear my HDDs. But writing blu-ray discs takes a long time and I would get in the same predicament as with the DVDs sooner or later.
Having learned from my experience I started replacing older HDDs with newer, better ones, avoiding failures – I have never had a HDD that failed(thank God!). This however has led to some spare HDDs that were just laying around. So it hit me – what if I used these disks as external storage devices. Eureka!
The solution I found is two fold, so to speak. First, you need to store your HDDs neatly so they don’t get all dusty since they do have an electronic component and you also need to protect the mechanic component. So, I got myself plastic storage containers – made by the German Raidsonic company(yup, free advertising you guys). You could also get your hands on something that protects the disk from strong electromagnetic fields, I went for the cheap plastic containers though… Let’s face it, if you have a strong electromagnetic field in your house your electronics are screwed anyway. Also, plastic absorbs shocks better if you are butter-fingered and drop your disk. Second, and the most important part, get yourself a fast, simple to plug into, HDD rack/docking bay. Again, I went with may pals Raidsonic. They have one of the few USB 3.0 compatible docking bays(that’s right USB 3.0 means large bandwidth, baby) on the market. While it’s not all that cool that your HDD is hanging upside down in such a freaky manner, it’s not actually that bad: your HDD is in open air which means it needs no cooling and you’re not going to leave it there forever, you just transfer what you need and then store it back safely in its cute case. Did I mention they come with stickers so you can write on down what specific drive is in what case? Also, take into account that you can transfer 1GB of data from one 1 HDD to another, even via USB in seconds while it would probably take minutes to write a DVD or worse, a blu-ray disc. Also, HDDs are read/write – you want to get rid of something, you just delete it.
So here it is, my solution to the world’s storage hunger.