What Storage?

Internet DNA Podcast

Abi wants to discover how she should be backing up her digital files for maximum safety and comfort.



Hello and welcome to Internet DNA. This week we're going to talk about external hubs. So Dan, how are you?

And very well. I'm very well.


it has been awhile, but way back finally

wait awhile I've had, I had an external hard drive, a big old lump of a dinosaur that I backup and archive all my files on for so long that I'm beginning to worry that uh, it's, it's a false security because I think it's going to break. In fact, I think it already has broken cause my new computer, it won't connect to it because it likes to go by the Internet. It's an old netgear Nas box. Does that ring a bell?

Yes it does. Yeah. And

so I wonder if you could tell me the different types of hard drives and storage that might be a good idea for me and where I could get them from or if you think, no, I don't think the old ones worth keeping. What would you do with your storage

files? Put them all on the cloud. I've got terabytes and terabytes on the cloud. And when you're talking about full backup, it's the exact reason why I don't use external hard drives anymore because it's not really backed up is it's just on another thing that might fail. And that's basically why I become driverless essentially. I mean my computer has drives but they're all small, small capacity. SSD drives, SSD is solid state storage. So we need to go back to the beginning. So, um, hard drives as we're talking about them are basically a load of metal platters with what you can imagine. There's needles on them and they, well,

uh, well basically they're much like a record player in in many ways. So the, they record the information magnetically onto the platters and then they read it magnetically off the platters and that's pretty much how they work. So they spinning a disk, which is why when you're looking at hard drives, one of the key things they talk about is the RPM. So yeah, like beats per minutes. But actually it's Rpm, like an engine. It's revolutions per minute and usually storage drives are quite low. So that sort of 5,000, 400, um, because it would be a lot of big.


Yeah. So, um, and it's one of the reasons when your hard drives were about to die, you get what's known as the dreaded clicking sound, which is this, it's, it's actually the fact that they're starting to fail.

Sounds like a space shuttle about to take off.

Yeah, no, that's because you're using a nas box with a tiny little fan on it that was trying to keep the hard drives cool. There was obviously, when you're spinning drives, you've got motors running that need power and you've got elements moving, which creates friction. So there's heat generated off them. So

a state drive is,

it's like a stick of memory really

was something else that wasn't a solid state and it's probably, yeah,

there's a thing called the hybrid drive and a hybrid drive is exactly what it sounds like, which is part of it is solid state. So your most recently or most often used files or held in a solid state part of the drive and then the rest of the files are held in. So the traditional hard disk spinning platters thing and

it's quicker and safer.

Uh, well there's some real advantages. I was like, yes it is quicker. So when I go to people's company and they go, oh my laptop's rubbish. Generally what I'll do is I'll take out the hard drive and replace it with an SSD, give it back to them and they'll go wow. It's just like, it's like a new computer and it, and it's that because the delay in old computers is that asking for files off a hard drive. That delay is actually quite significant. And like startup times for windows is almost entirely to do with the speed of your hard drive. So if your windows starts up in under 10 seconds, that's cause you're sitting on a, on a SSD or probably some form of m two SSD. If it takes three minutes, it's cause you're on a very old and slow hard drive. Probably very little capacity left

by the way, Dan. Yeah.

Okay. I'll sit down again about when I'm, when I'm talking,

that is nothing to do with solid states or unsalted states, large gray clouds.

I have to tell myself to sit down cause I tend to walk about when I'm talking

so he have clouds. So we, we've digressed because I'm not talking about a hard drive in my computer that I used to work off. I'm talking about a backup storage. I use Dropbox, I use one drive, but then I also, when I'm not using the files, I back them up to two separate hard drives. Why? Because I feel they're safer.

Really? Yes. What way would they be safer? I'm just going to question your assumptions

because I've physically got them in a box in my office and my house.

Okay. So let's imagine all the things that could physically happened to that box in your house.

Well it could burn down.

Yup. They could get water on it. It could

about one in my house and one in my office.

Okay. It could get banged. The hard drives could die. Technology could mean you can no longer access, um, where the whole point of the cloud is. They're everywhere.

Yeah. The everywhere or nowhere because I everywhere. Oh my files on Dropbox because somebody joined the Dropbox of me. And then when the undrip to join them, all my files just disappeared. I was literally vanish off my computer and there was nothing I could do. And it was the most scary moment.

Yes, there are lots of different ways you can store on the cloud. So you're talking about things like Dropbox and Dropbox is really just an abstracted version of Amazon web services. S three bucket. So I'm not going to talk of later stuff. It probably goes into a different podcast, but literally you've got a, a folder on a drive or on hundreds of computers around the world. Now what happened to you was that you allowed someone else to take ownership of your files and so when they d owned them, they disappeared. But most companies nowadays, for instance, we don't have any file servers, any email servers, any account servers, nothing in the company anymore. Everything lives on the cloud so that anyone can connect from anywhere. Well, not anyone, but people with the relevant sort of authorization can connect from anywhere and access to files. Um, I understand your concern about drop box because of your experience with it, but generally if you have a properly set up cloud drive, your content stays there forever. Now, or what I could say to you is, yeah, you're going to say, yeah, but it's going to cost me money like I'm going to pay.

Well that really depends. As a user you can go on to, let's say I think I cloud do some thing. I mean there's this incredibly cheap, I mean unbelievably cheap. Google cloud is cheap as well. I mean I think I pay three pounds, 34 unlimited storage.


Yes. By user.

Okay. So here's the thing, I have such terrible, I can't download and upload files at all to her example. If I try, if my Dropbox is updating the radio and everything else, just stop.

Yeah. Okay. So this is, this is a problem for people on cloud. And so if we talk about, um, Google drive for instance, we use the one that I predominantly use just because both of my company and myself are both on Google because aren't we all, if we live on the web, it has a thing called drive stream and then you can choose which files you want to keep actually on your computer because I don't know about you, but for me, I'm very rarely working on more than let's say 200 megs of, or 200 gigs or mags gigs I guess of actually look real actual files. The rest of it is just archived files that I'm not actually going to use. I need to maybe access them again the other future date, but I'm really not using them. That's not what I'm using

was that you can have the files that I have to go and browse for them.

No, exactly. So you date it gives you a Google folder just like a Dropbox folder. I mean they all work pretty much the same to be honest. Um, and then you can choose which ones you want to sync and d sync from your phone or your computer or from whatever. And you can even choose by device. So on my computer I sync certain files and on my phone I think other files.

Okay. Here's, here's a math question for you. How quick is your maths? If it's three pounds 50 a month and it would cost me 66 pounds to get a two terabyte drive. How many months?

Okay, so what you're saying a two terabyte storage.

Yeah. You missed it in your head. I know, but I tend to get rid of my phone calls. I know, but uh, it's about two years. Yeah, exactly. And if you're saying that you're going to keep your files forever, yeah.

Yeah. Because probably your files are going to run out, aren't they?

Well, my terabytes, I don't know, they sound a bit like it's back in the dinosaur age again, the terra doctor, I don't think that they could have run out. That was so much space.

The single user, like one person and you're not frightened of things that are technical. Um, there is actually a really, really simple way of, of dealing with this, which is, um, Amazon web surfers. There's offer these things called s three buckets, which are literally exactly as they sound. Now what you can do, they are incredibly cheap because you can basically buy different versions of these. And this is what our company does. So once we've, once a file hasn't been accessed for more than three months, it gets moved across into Amazon web services. S three bucket, which is a reduced access so you don't use it very often. And once it's been on there for six months, it goes into a thing called Glassea, which is just literally archive storage. And that's literally what it is, can take you up to, I think it's four hours to get the file back if you need it back.

But generally you don't. And that's the way we reduce costs because obviously we're generating huge amounts of design files for magazines every single month. Um, and all the associated sort of event materials. So we don't want to be storing, you know, hundreds and hundreds of terabytes of stuff on our Google drive, which doesn't need to be there. Um, so you can start to tear it down. Now as a single user, you can just get an s three bucket, I think probably, I can't remember, I'd have to look it up, but I've got a feeling that s three is free up to two terabytes. So did that challenge you on it? That's once it's into Glassea. So Glassio is their archive storage and the, the advantage of Glassio is that I think one terabyte costs you one paper a month or something. I mean, it's literally, it's not even a cost. So yeah, so that anyone can sign up for an Amazon web services account.

And on Amazon web services, they have a thing called s three buckets. And effectively Dropbox is built on top of s three buckets. All it does is, is provide user authentication and separation on top of an s three bucket. And they'll just do, they charge you the difference. So that's business, I think for you as a user. It's Google, it's Google Suite, um, and using a thing called Google drive stream and that synchronizes all your files all the time. And then you choose which ones you want on your computer and then the ones that you don't want on your computer, you just allowed to live in the cloud forever and ever and ever. Yeah, exactly. And sync the files, especially if you're using Google apps for business rather than just pure of Gmail. But I think dry stream is available for both. I'd say I use business for everything, so it's difficult for me to remember.

Well, here's the thing, I thought I was really difficult, but there's something in me that sort of keeping one foot in the analog world and I still want my external hard drive. If the world came to the end till the end and there was no internet and that I wouldn't have any, I wouldn't have any files. I wouldn't have any photos. Whereas if it's sitting in my house, I would.

Okay. So if that's, if that's your fear coming to an end, then you're gonna still need your photographs and ignore the fact that probably won't be any electricity anyway. But um, magic there was electricity.

Yeah. I be cycling like I haven't stone away.

Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Okay. So then, then there's the argument right there for uh, an external hard drive. There is actually another argument for an external hard drive and it's actually one that I do use an external hard drive for, which is working on very big files. So if you're working on large illustrator or Photoshop, all that sorts of thing files which you don't want on your, let's say laptop hard drive, which usually a quite small, my solution to that though is to run a SSD storage because the other problem with large files is that you need to access them very quickly. You don't want Photoshop sitting. So I don't use external hard drive for storage in, in the sense of archival storage. But I do sometimes use it for working file storage, right? Yeah, exactly. So why as 250 gig hard drive, which some of it is then taken up by the operating system and then a lot more second up by the applications. So I don't want to be loading, you know, a hundred gigs of movie files onto my computer, but I need to be able to access them in a way that my editing software isn't going to go well. You can go make a cup of tea while I go and grab this file. That's why I run.

Yeah. Stop listening to the radio.

Yeah, exactly. And that's why I do run one terabyte SSD storage, external storage. And that's what I use it for.

And so if we're talking about external storage, uh, what, what a good ones to get and where are good places to get them from?

Um, okay. So if you're just buying literally archive storage, um, any of the big names. I quite like Western digital, but you know, it doesn't really matter any of the big names. See Gates, another one. Um, you should be looking at, uh, what types of driver inside. So if we take western digital, I think they do a green one that's called Eco, which is usually sort of consumer level storage drive. They do do red ones, but therefore nas drive, so they have quite slow drives, but that very reliable. So the faster you go you're up to a Barracuda or these sort of 1,000 rpm drives. They're very fast, not half as fast as SSD, but for hard drives they're fast, but then then more prone there. Meantime between failure is much lower. That's worth me speaking off of that night, it sounds a bit risky, but meantime between failure. Yeah, that is, that is every electrical product that you have, we'll have what's known as a m meantime between failure and basically what it says on average.


Yeah. I think it's actually, but I don't know why that is. Anyway, it's, it's a measure of what the service life of something is. So you can imagine it in like printer links. They'll say, you can get 500 pages from this printer ink. Yeah,

yeah. And I realized that material you can get, it's called the abrasion rate. How many times you can sit on it before you.

Exactly. And so for computers it's meantime between failure. So thousands of hours. Okay.

Okay. But again, you just talked about a different type of drive that's not a solid state drives. That's a,

they have a, uh, I think it's a right to performance. So they will say they're, they're good for a million rights because obviously you're writing over on these little tiny little, uh, manned chips and eventually they degrade. But I mean a million rights. Now

if your external hard drive, do I need a solid state one or do I need

archive in which I've already discussed? You should be doing that on the cloud or you're doing it for working files. Yeah. I think if you're doing it for working files, you'd be better off with a smaller, like a half one terabyte SSD drive because then you're not going to get the performance degradation of working on those files over onto a hard drive. If you're doing it for because you're worried about the end of the world and you need your photos. Um, then I would buy a high capacity, external hard drive and I would go for probably four terabytes I think is a good price point at the moment. Um, that goes up to eight. I and Ashley got solid state. No, that's normal. Hard drives.


But I wouldn't be doing archived storage on

Paul drive. Oh, I know. I know. And I normally agree with you on everything, but this week I'm not going to agree with you. I'm just to yeah,

no, and that's fair enough.

Sarah hide and I want my terabytes, so I think I might go out and buy a red one or green one.

Yes. Yes. So, um, yeah, so, so make sure that you're buying one day is specifically designed for storage because it will run slower speeds. It will last longer. It won't be as prone to failure. I mean, the fact is is in my entire life, I've only known sort of two or three drives ever to fail anyway. But if it's those pictures that need to survive the apocalypse, then you need one that's, you know, is going to survive the apocalypse, the cockroach drive.

It will be, I'll be remembered because my drive will be there. That's something to think about. I think always, how will I be remembered? Do I got a coverings? Do I go to a buyer? Where do I buy one of these drives?

Uh, so the first thing I would do is, is have a look on the Internet for good portable storage drives. Find the one that you think suits you best and then do the usual internet. I Google shopping. Where do we get this cheapest good eye or go to your local computer shop and support them or don't, I don't know. Whichever. Um, yeah, I mean just use the Internet but I do some research. Find out what you, you know, find out what each one has. Cause they all come with like bits of software and a bit lockers and um,

little x just to try and get me to buy them.

Exactly. I'm really, all you need is the largest capacity drive over that. You can get within a budget that you can pay from a name that's reasonably reputable.

Okay. Well, sorry about the beginning and the digging of my phone, but thank you for that. I think I may not take her advice and I think I may go and buy a solid state and I'm not sort of straight but out, but, uh, basically a physical drive. Um, and you can go back to your Sunday still now if you'd like.

I'll say goodbye till next week. Brilliant. And I will speak next week. What are we going to talk about next week then? It's a cloud. Why don't we talk about the cloud next week? Well, clouds, well, let's turn Brown the cloud.

We could do that

until then. Cheerio.


Dan & Abi work, talk and dream in tech. If you would like to discuss any speaking engagement please contact us.