Whatever option you choose, back up your data!
When you walk into professional photographer David Moore's office on Wilhelmina Rise, stacked next to his computer you'll see six external drives. As if these weren't enough, he just purchased two new 320-gig drives with enough room to store over 60,000 photos, 10,000 hours of MP3 music or 6,000 hours of flash video.
"This may seem like overkill," says Moore (but) "the demands of my work mean that dependable storage is always at a premium."
Moore is not alone. Bandwidth, or the capacity to move larger and larger files around the Internet, means that our hard drives are being crammed to the gunnels with digital music, video, and photo files.
Thankfully, there are plenty of new products, such as external drives mentioned above or online services, that can help manage the torrent of data that is coming through the pipeline.
Let's take a look at the storage options out there:
» External drives: This is probably the easiest way to save your data. All it takes is a USB or a "FireWire" cable and you plug your new storage unit into your computer. You'll need some backup software, but that usually comes with the hardware or is available as part of your operating system.
There are many manufacturers that offer cheap drives and you can get them from big-box stores as well as specialty shops such as Comp USA.
» Online storage options: Cheap hard drives are great but in Hawaii where we're faced with earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunami and floods, it's a good policy to store important data offsite. With low-cost, high-speed bandwidth it's possible to store data on the mainland (or elsewhere) and there are a variety of companies such as Mozy.com, Carbonite.com, xDrive.com, iBackup.com, ElephantDrive.com that offer online storage.
I've had a good experience with Mozy which is fast, safe and incredibly inexpensive (about $5 per month for unlimited storage).
Sometimes ISPs will offer services as well. For example, Oceanic Time Warner (no relation to Time Warner Telecom) offers SmartDrive Backup (smartdrive.twcbiz.com) which is available to business customers. Prices start at $4.95 per month for 100 MB.
If you have a small business with more than one user on your network, you also might consider a network storage system. They vary in price from a few hundred to up to a thousand dollars, and are available from companies such as Cisco and Hewlett Packard. The downside is that they are complex to set up.
Pau Spam founder Ho'ala Greevy says he prefers automated online backups to external hard drives, which he says can become outdated or get stolen.
"Whatever option you choose," says Ho'ala, choose something! Your data is way too valuable to lose."
is vice president and general manager of the Honolulu office of Time Warner Telecom. He can be reached at Cliff.Miyake@twtelecom.com