To USB or Not to USB


The Obvious First USB 3.0 Products

Alright, so I need to back up my PC at home.  So what do I do?  I buy a hard drive from Costco or Best Buy or New Egg.  For me it is the small 320GB Toshiba Hard Drive.  This is great because it’s bus powered and small.  This means only one small USB cable.   I have about 20 GB of photos so I dump that with my few megabytes of important documents.  Unplug it. Stick it in a small bag, or a clean sock, and stick it in a drawer with my Compact Flash cards, SD cards, and Flash drives.  In 1 month, rinse, repeat.

If I buy the Terabyte drive it requires a power cable and a USB cable, and a place to put it.  I have about 6 drives like this.  3 I built back in the days when 40 GB was a big hard drive, and 3 more I purchased pre-built on sale.  I never use them. They have backup data and sit with their power cables in unused boxes in my unused wet bar.  (I don’t drink, I really should remove that wet bar.)

The other thing that is funny about back-ups is that I have 2 friends that each had RAID based systems. Theres are the Redudant Array’s of Independent Drives.  With a RAID system of 2, 3, or 4 drives, you should be able to rebuild all the data on all the drives because the data is spread-out in a way to make it redundant. 

I like to call these RUD’s.  Why?  Both of my friends had failures of these systems at home.  For one it was weeks of photos.  For the other it was months and months of programming. Redundant Undependable Drives.  On top of this, this happened at my old company too on an R&D drive.  

Okay, this doesn’t happen all the time.  I’m sure there are 100 examples of where RAID works.
Let’s face it though.  For my dad or mom, they don’t want to deal with the complexity of a RAID system.  They can copy files to and from a portable drive, and put it in a drawer.  They can alternate drives if they have 2.  This is simple. (Like me)

So the obvious application for USB 3.0 is Hard Drives.  These are Direct Attached Storage drives that everyone pickup and buy at Target or Costco or Walmart.   Not just FNAC, Yodobashi Camera, Suning, or Best Buy.

Of course, there are Solid-State Drives also. These are around 128GB now and will go to a Terabyte withing 4-5 years assuming a doubling each year.  These offer faster 3x+read/write speeds than rotating hard drives and 1/3 or less power consumption.  This is an almost 10 fold increase in performance. (based on my 3rd grade arithmatic.  So the likelihood is that these will replace hard drives in laptops to extend battery life further.  At some point they will be cheaper than rotating hard drives.  This means that they will also be used in Direct Attached Storage products also.

The other thing would be flash drives.  These flash drives, sometimes call thumb drives, were the killer app for USB 2.0.   I found a 4GB one at the park the other day.  (I almost took it home when I realized that this would be akin to finding a chocolate bar on the ground and bringing it home to share with the family.  Ew.)

My guess is that these will be at least 500GB or 1/2 terabyte within 5 years also.  These have the possibility of displacing the Direct Attached Storage as viable backup up for most people like me with tons of photos, and an itty bitty amount of personal data.  But they could be used for caring movies and music also for viewing on TV’s through DVD players that have host ports that read these files.

Tell me about your RAID experiences.  Does your DVD player have a USB port on it?  Do you have a portable hard drive?  What is the probability that Flash Drives will replace Direct Attached Storage?

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