I've had more flash storage fail than HDD...
Must admit though, I do like raided flash storage, just not the current price...
It's coming isn't it; the terabyte tablet, and it's easy to see how. Let's double the flash memory in Apple's sexy slab each year and we get a terabyte iPad in 2015. It will probably arrive sooner. Won't it be great to have flash speed access to all your photos, your music, your videos, your calendar, your films, your digital …
2015? You can't assume capacity will double every year. Assume 18 months and you'll be a lot closer. so, make it 2017-2018.
Oh, and you'll still need to actually back the things up in case they get stolen or burned. Except there will be LESS need to back up as they aren't as likely to just die... so people will back up even LESS. Unless it's built in + automatic. No one backs up there personal data nowadays anyway really and even less than no one will in future (no one = < 1% of the population).
Whilst the reliability of SSDs is in no doubt higher than that of HDD, and with MTBF figures orders of magnitude higher than HDDs, this shouldn't be a surprise. Don't be fooled into thinking that SSDs are failure proof though. Their MTBF figures whilst extremely high are still finite, and storing important data in more than one place will still be as prudent in an all SSD world as it is now.
You say that the new MacBook Air doesn't need backing up, I'd say it does, just as much as any other portable device. OK the flash might go on seemingly forever, but what happens if the user drops it, or simply leaves the thing on the 3:15 to Edinburgh?
Also, I have bought countless flash based devices over the years, and not all of them worked out-of-the-box, and not all those that did work at first, still work today.
So whilst most of us would agree that storage density and sizes will continue to increase, portraying flash based storage as infallible and not requiring backup is a bad message in my book.
Assuming the main board on your tablet is fried by a faulty mains adapter, or you drop it down the loo, how much will it cost you to get your data back and can you do so?
Also, is it the controllers in flash chips that make them more reliable than spinning disks? I ask because I'm sure many spinny drives have been lost to controller failure -- so what's to stop your flash controller mangling your data? Are there firms out there that can take apart flash drives with faulty controllers and some corrupt data and still get a lot of things back, as can be done with hard drives?
Broadly speaking, I would agree with the author. Yes, flash is more resilient than HDDs, but it would be foolish to duplicate data via your backup system of choice simply becausethe storage might be more resilient. Loss of the physical device is still the most likely total loss scenario I can imagine, although I would happily back up my data to a flash based twin drive RAID array anyday (just in case..)
Firstly flash has a wear-out mechanism, and while most uses won't see this, that is not to say it will not bite you due to the file system journalling, etc, working things through.
Secondly all electronics can fail! I have had a couple of USB flash drives die for no obvious reason.
Thirdly, all your stuff on one ipad - and some thief swipes it, or you lose it - what then?
Of course most folk don't think through the consequences of their PC/phone/ipad being lost or damaged, and so they don't have a (usable) backup to recover from. It end in tears, I can tell you...
So yes we will see flash taking over more and more, and for read-access it is amazingly fast, but not so great for random write access. And yes it is more robust than a lot of HDD, particularly in high shock/vibration environments, but it is not perfect.
So what for home back-up (and restore)? A lot might trust their data to "the cloud" but I would not, as you get no guarantee/indemnity if if fails. For example. we use Googl's 'professional' email service and their support is crap. What is your data gets hosed? Too bad sonny...
If you don;t care too much about privacy, etc, then a super-sized ipad and a cloud back-up is a great combination. But if your ipad dies, how long to sync 1TB of data back to it? And will said users have their log-in details stored on the now-dead ipad so they have to all intents and purposes lost the lot?
At least with your own backup, even on the quaint old HDD, you can get a local expert to sort things out for you.
The idea that data held in a single location is secure and can never fail is foolhardy. And particularly when you regard a device that is portable. There is always the risk of loss or theft.
And flash is not for ever. Sure you don't have mechanical parts to fail but modern circuit boards do have a nasty habit of failing due to dry joints and the like.
Technology moves forward and storage becomes more durable, but backups are and will remain for the foreseeable future a prudent measure.
"The cloud is the place to backup our personal and home flash stores" doesn't say that flash doesn't need backup does it?
It would be lovely - I use Time Machine and cloud backup at the moment (Mozy) and it works OK.
In the terabyte iPad era, I imagine you'd be choosing your device based on ergonmic use / HID use cases, but then again maybe not with the right peripherals.
Especially with regards trusting stuff to the cloud for backup. For one, with all the cameras now out there taking HD video at around 13GB/hr best of luck syncing that on your average plan. Same goes for photos from compact cameras unless you have an old 3MP one and take around 5 photos per month.
Not sure that this article has any relevance to tablets or iPads any more than it does to any other home system. But aside from that.
Backups aren't just there because of hardware failures. Software fails too and can wreck file systems (yes even if they are journalled, that just helps clean up improper shutdowns). But people also delete files and then decide that they didn't want too. The need to backup won't go away just because the "disks" are a bit more reliable. Flash is not 100% reliable, it is just better than spinning magnets.
Compressing JPEGs and MPEGs? hmmmmmmmmmm never had much joy there. Not too good from the point of view of MP3 files either.
Backing up to the cloud? Well that depends on what the data is.
Would you company allow you to backup their data to anything other than their cloud?
Would you trust your personal data outside of your own physically controlled systems? How about you bank account details? your credit card numbers?
What about all those dodgy pictures you've collected over the Internet?
What about the videos you and the wife shot in the bedroom? Would you trust those to be let loose somewhere you can't see? Would she? What would happen to your life if someone else got access?
Sure the Terabyte iPad is coming, just like the TB laptop and netbook and probably the TB phone. But very few people will ever have a decent means of backing them up, just like they don't have with their multi GB systems today.
It really depends on the quantity of stuff that you want to store. You can get more terabytes cheaper on disc than on flash, and that doesn't look like its going to change in the near (<10 years) term. The question is how much you actually need to store. Rather like packing a suitcase, our ability to fill drive space expands to match the available space, or at least it has so far. First larger programs, then volume audio, then video and HD video have been filling up the space as it becomes available. The question is whether this trend will continue. At the moment, there doesn't seem to be any new high volume format on the horizon, so the only thing that could obviously fill that extra space is more of the same, and streaming and DRM are acting to mitigate this.
So, basically, unless we find something new to store, or we start seriously upping the quantity of video we store, hard discs are indeed going to go the way of the dodo in fairly short order. But you should never underestimate the ability of people to store huge amounts of crap.
Oh, and the backup thing? Flash or disc, you will always need backup. Flash may or may not be less vulnerable to randomly stopping working one day, but if you drop your iSlab off a cliff, its gone and it ain't coming back, so you better have a backup.
"Disks break; flash doesn't. It doesn't need backing up."
Even if this was true, the idea that you wouldn't need to backup on the basis the media won't break is daft. Quite apart from corruptions, misops, accidentally deletions/reformats, mobile devices are ffar more easily lost/stolen. Anybody who does not have a backup regime for their data (or some way of recreating it) is running at risk. As any experience IT operations person can tell you, reliable hardware (like flash is supposed to be) is about data availability. Backup (and related archives) are a completely different set of needs.
Also, where does the idea that applying de-dupe to MPEGs or JPEGs come from? Unless this means eliminating duplicate files (which is more a matter of good data organisation than a proper use of de-dupe) then applying the technology to MPEG/JPEGs is essentially useless as the chances of any duplicated blocks on highly compressed data when all the redundancy has been removed is essentially zero.
You can easily achieve multi-generational backups (where eliminating duplicate files is desirable) using traditional backup software.
Also the comment that flash is an ideal backup target is surely only true if you eliminate the costs element. In general, backup does not require the low latency high IOP requirements of online or transactional usage. What you need is high-bandwidth streaming performance with low costs per GB (which is why tapes hang on in the enterprise space). For domestic or small business backup, HDDs are usually the best compromise, and I suspect will remain so for a while. Broadband speeds will have to be increased by a couple of orders of magnitude before cloud backup and restore will compete with a single eSATA external drive which can approach a gigabit of data bandwidth. Cloud storage might be alright for the most volatile data, but it's still quite difficult, slow and expensive to use for very large multi-media files. An AVCHD file at maximum rate is around 11GB per hour, without edited versions. It will be a while before online services are fast or cost-effective enough to compete with a 2TB eSATA drive for this purpose.
At least in one regard that the cloud is a perfect backup target . You still need to backup and although right now I would shudder at downloading 1TB of data it wouldn't be impossible in fact at the speed I get at home it would only take about 9 days and I'd hope that by 2015 I'll have at least twice as fast broadband.
Still I think disks still have a long life ahead of them in the enterprise because flash simply has such a lower data density. Those cloud backup servers are perfect for racks of disks to keep costs down.
"...the flash-based MacBook Air does not need Apple's Time Machine backup"
Yeah, say that again with a straight face after a passing thief swipes your Air.
I know where you're coming from; if the iPad syncs with your deskbound Mac, this thinking works. Maybe the Air and the iPad could wirelessly sync with a backup service? (hah! Wishful thinking)
Assuming that in 5 years you'll have 1TB, and that's currently enough to store all your data, therefore all will be dandy hey? How much data did you store 5 years ago? 10 years ago? Now, think again, how much data are you going to have 5 years from now?
Yep, you're still going to need a spinning disk to hold it all.
Plus, what everyone else already said. Flash is more resilient, but it's not eternal. And the rest of the device can break or wander off in somebody else's hands. Keep at least 2 copies, or you'll lose it all.
"Written following the crash of an external disk drive used for Time Machine backup of a Macbook."
Another "well MY hard disk just crashed so I've had an epiphany about backups" articles. Lazy journalism at its best. Will we get a review of pens next week after your biro runs out?
The only time I've ever had to turn to my backup disk was when my PowerBook was stolen. Even if SSDs were indestructible, they wouldn't save you from that. I
backup my TimeCapsule (and this backup it off site), not particularly because I'm worried about the TC failing (of course it could), but because if any junkie breaks into the house, of course they're going to take the white box with the Apple logo on top - even if they don't know what it is.
"If the small capacity is near full then unless there is continuous shuffling of existing data the lifespan of the SSD could be down to as little as a few weeks."
That's a llittle pessimistic - my Sony has 32Gb hard drive and normally has only 1Gb free and has been running like that, used everyday, for nearly 4 years.
According to Moore, your 64Gb Ipad will hit 1 Tb in late 2018, not 2015. Flash, obviously, is far from indestructible and has a limited write life. Do your backups accordingly.
The 1 Tb Ipad will be:
- full to bursting with high definition multimedia
- Really pretty
- oddly expensive and underpowered compared to other products
It will sell for about £800 after inflation. Acer will do a 4 Tb Linux version for £600.
If you value your data you back it up or duplicate it in as many places as is practical .. for anyone who has been in operational IT for more than a few months this is a no-brainer. I find ZFS to be a superb file system and combined with good quality hard drives it represents the best value for money for secure storage .. I would certainly not be surprised to see more consumer oriented HDD based raid boxes with ZFS to provide a set and forget approach for local "digital life" backups (forget Linux as the embedded OS and use FreeBSD/FreeNAS instead and you get ZFS for free!).
You should also consider an HSM approach and archive old files rather than completely delete them just in case you later realize you need it ... this is similar to the approach Time Machine uses and is really rather good .. I would software RAID1 a pair of USB drives and let Time Machine use that as a single volume ... USB drives are so cheap that it makes sense to combine physical redundancy with an automated backup system for home users. If you are a Mac and iPad owner then it only takes a few clicks to achieve this and you get automated backups for both the iPad using iTunes and then Time Machine for the whole machine and hardware redundancy.
I backup my file server OS on to DLT just in case I need to perform a platform rebuild.
Oh and backups are only as good as the last time they were read .. so like UPS's test them regularly 8-)
When Memristors become reality, it will totally change "flash storage" (not sure it would technically still be "flash", but certainly it would be solid state.
Not only will the capacity increase dramatically for the same form factor end units, but the memristor itself can be "reprogrammed" as a "dynamic CPU" to execute discrete logic functions autonomously. Use it for long term storage, short term storage (it's quick enough) and for discrete calculations!
It will totally change PC architecture, from CPU through L1/L2 caches, through system RAM, through backing store.
At least that's what the marketing blurb says... Hope it will happen :D
Soon you won't need any hard drives or floppy disc backups; the one megabyte telephone is coming, and it will be able to store all the MIDI files and plain text erotic stories you could ever write!
They also never break or get lost, stolen, or confiscated by airport security, so you never need to backup up anything.
The author is correct.
There is no need to back up data that is on flash. As long as the loss of that data is no big deal.
Parents who don't really care about the pictures they take of their children are prime candidates. For them, flash is plenty secure.
Maybe the fact that I am in the storage business keeps me from joining the "no need for back up" revolution. I run against RAID 5, then back that up locally. Then remotely. I nearly lost the video of one of my kid's birth to age 6 months when I left our video camera on top of the family car...and drove away. Recovered it, but I never want to see that look on my wife's face again. LOL.
I've never had an hdd die on me but I have had a couple of flash cards do so.
Data loss probably occurs more frequently from accidental deletion than storage medium failure.
It is not remotely safe to carry unique irreplacable files around for reasons already stated by other posters - theft & breakage.
I fully expect a terrabyte tablet in roughly timeline suggested but will certainly back it up, perhaps on my petabyte holo-crystal.
I'm sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion in this story. I've got HD's that have been sitting around for 7+ years which work perfectly. I've got a 300GB SATA1 drive servicing as C: in the PC I'm using to write this. Oh, it also has a 160GB IDE HD, just for the giggles (and running a few servery type things from).
OK, so I do also have a whole bunch of SanDisk flash storage in the form of SD cards (normal and micro), Compact Flash and USB drives. These are a joy to use and I use them for backups as much as anything else.
That's not to say I back my data up from my HD to flash. Actually, I backup from one to the other on an interchangeable basis. I just want to dupe my data so that at least one copy should be safe if either media dies.
I've been quite lucky with HD's though. I had a RAID of 4 40GB IBM drives many, many moons ago (when 40GB with mid-range for capacity). I've given one away this year. One developed some nasty crunchy sectors, but the first 30GB was pefectly fine. The other two are in the cupboard next to me, with various bits of data on.
I keep thinking about upgrading the HD in my PC - as well as the two in my laptop (one of which makes very odd bleepy noises with its read/write head, from time to time). Thing is, SSD's are still too expensive and the latest generation (SandForce) are not tested sufficiently enough for longevity. Not where *my* data is concerned, at least.
1.5TB 3.5" is where the price:storage ratio is best. I may, possibly, if I'm generous, shove a couple into my PC and ditch the 300 and 160GB in the bin. Maybe. Except they work fine. *sigh*
"How much better it would be if you compress or deduplicate the JPEGs, the MPEGs and the other files"
I read this sentence and knew the author was evangelizing. Anyone respectible to listen to about hard drives and disk usage wouldn't remotely suggest that MPEGs and JPEGs can be compressed (more).
Not to mention thinking 1TB of flash on a portable (read: losable) device, not to mention the "closed" nature of the device in question... does it even support generic-file drag-and-drop (ie: for an Acronis disk image file)? Well, since we're (the author at least is) in Apple land, that may not matter...
As robust as flash may be compared to spindles, one also has to consider the root reason of why corporations are still using even-less-reliable-than-disk tape drives: Because the medium is cheap and can store terabytes of data. Likewise, hard drives are still cheaper than flash and thus will still be used as a primary means of data backup over more expensive alternatives.
RAID1 is still a great means of data protection. All the data is easily recoverable (even in event of a controller failure) since it's simply a disk image. RAID0+1 and RAID5 is where the disk layout starts to get convoluted and, especially in RAID5, compute-intensive. For a performance redundant space, RAID0+1 is a great way to go. Want an even better alternative? Set up a cascading backup so your data is stored in 2 or 3 completely seperate systems, one of which preferrably being offsite. Then, your house can burn down or lightning fry your electronics and your spare backup server at your friend's house (or your Mozy drive in the cloud, if you wanted to rent that much space) is still safe and sound.
When your flash disk turns into a pumpkin because it has hit hits its write limit, come talk to me. I'll show you how you can store 20x as much on spinning disks with redundancy against failure and a TCO over two replacement cycles (eight years) that will make flash makers blush.
Disks are not dead, and flash sure as hell won’t be what kills ‘em. Flash is too volatile and too expensive. RAID or die; flash is no exception to that rule. The problem is…flash RAID is way to damned expensive.
Unless you are demanding mad IOPS, flash is just pointless…and will be for the better part of the next decade. Give me a nice NAS (at home or at work) with a minimum RAID 6 or GTFO my spaces. Endpoints should always be backing up because end points don’t have RAID. (Also, RAID != backup, but that’s another argument.)
Give me spinning disks. I can swap ‘em out a half dozen times, and TB for TB they will still be cheaper than flash over their lifespan.
This is a ridiculous idea. An iPad is so easily lost or stolen, it is the absolute worst possible backup medium. I still remember the first review of the MacBook Air in the New York Times. The reviewer sheepishly admitted that it was accidentally tossed in the trash. He was using it at home on the weekend and left it sitting on a stack of Sunday newspapers. His wife threw away the whole pile without ever realizing there was an ultralight laptop in it.
Another point worth considering is compression. Most current formats for large files are already optimally compressed. If you zip a video file, you will get almost no further compression. Zip a 1.0Gb video file and you will almost always get a 0.99Gb zip. And on a slow processor as used in iPads and other low power consumption CPUs, uncompression is very time consuming.
My tablet of choice already has a 500GB harddrive in it and it already seems cramped. Sure, it's a whole lot roomier than a 16G phone or a 16G tablet.. However, once you start to have use for a device with more than 120G, thinks quickly escalate. Individual HD recordings can be 20G a pop. So space can be eaten up fast.
A tablet that has enough room for all of my music, all of my photos, all my home videos and a nice selection of movies and TV?
Got that already. I don't have to wait until 2015. '-p
Having savaged the author on his daft ideas could someone please tell me a good solution to regularly and painlessly backing up approx 2TB of data (docs, pics, videos)..
Have ruled out cloud based backups as insecure and I can't imagine how long it would take to do the first sync and later restore if my local hard drive crashes... And some of them are expensive at that storage size and some don't support Linux...
So what I want is a bullet-proof appliance for home storage.. Just a ruddy box, put whatever you want in it (RAIDn, SSD, HDD whatever)... I should be able to hook it up to the home router, more than one if I want and maybe one at my friend's house. Install agents on all my PCs, laptops, point 'em to each of the appliances and then just relax....
Obviously the one at my friend's house should be encrypted....
Is there something like this out there already??
Well, my two solutions, which are not perfect but better than nothing are:
(1) for most friends & family I have set up Linux boxes and use a small script that runs a back-up at shutdown on to a named location which is typically an external USB-powered HDD drive. This provides something they don't need to even think about, and provides salvation in the event of them accidentally deleting a key file, or the internal HDD failing. Cost about £60 for the 250GB HDD.
Downside is it is not encrypted (could be fixed with trucrypt, etc, but never pursued that) and physically attached to their desktop PC, so you can see the flaws for the highest of security. The web page needs some updating, but here it is:
There may be much better Linux backup/restore software out there, but when I looked and tried out some things around 2 years ago nothing matched what I wanted, hence yet another script option. But I really should look again at rdiff-backup.
(2) For more space and multiple user connections, I got myself a Thecus N5200pro NAS box, though it may be a bit of overkill for most, and filled it with 5*1TB disks so I have 3.6TB usable space in RAID-5. It provides CIFS (Windows), NFS (Linux), ftp and some Apple/media options I have not used. It has a decent web interface for managing it.
I see read speeds of around 40MB/sec and write around 20MB/sec over a single gigabit link (it also supports link aggregation but don't see that making a big difference). Also you can install modules like ssh and bittorrent, etc, I believe.
You start off early with the assumption SSDs don't fail or need backing up. That's a path to pain. They fail for different reasons than platter drives, and theoretically less often, but they do fail. If you don't make redundant backups of data on SSDs, you stand to lose it just as you might lose it on a traditional drive.
Perhaps someday not too far off we'll all be using SSDs or something like them instead of platters, but we're still going to need backups and/or mirrors of some kind.
First off, the assumption you don't need a backup because you have flash, and because it's big? Come on.
Second, I do doubt hard drives are going to die off -- OK, this mythical 2015 tablet will have 1TB of flash. I have a 1TB hard drive *now*, and they are increasing in density still -- there was a stall at 2TB for a while (I think due to the large XP install base, nobody wanted to be first to deal with all of them whining their obsolete OS would not see the whole drive) but 3TB ones just came out. 7-10TB by 2015? Feh, they could be that big by 2012 (well, even 2011 if anyone wanted to put more platters in a drive -- the 3TB has 4 750GB platters, but I had an old 1GB (it was old when I bought it for $1 used) that used 15 heads and presumably 8 platters (why not *16* head? I don't know..))
Okay, so the problems with moving my files to the cloud are: -
1) Transfer speed - bandwidth is the limiting factor.
2) Privacy - I have to give a third party access to my data.
3) Cost - it's a recurring expense instead of a one-off purchase.
But that's okay - it's worth putting up with those disadvantages, because I get to stream files from the cloud to my phone, my tablet device, my work PC, my friend's T.V... I get access to my stuff everywhere I go. Great!
So why would I put up with all the aforementioned problems just to back up my data to the cloud? Aren't I getting none of the advantages but all of the problems?
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