Monthly Archives: October 2015

6 Common Data Storage Solutions

Rather than go into every single storage technology that’s available today, it’s better to evaluate the various categories of storage options.

1. Direct attached storage: DAS denotes storage devices that are connected directly to a PC or server, typically using a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 peripheral port. One weakness of DAS is that you need to do ad-hoc or batch backups to copy data, which means they could contain out-of-date versions of files.

2. Network attached storage: A NAS appliance is a storage device that connects directly to the network. It features the attendant capabilities of a file server and accepts multiple storage drives. Redundancy is offered in the form of RAID capabilities, as NAS supports various file protocols to work directly desktops and laptops. Some NAS models offer the capability to synchronize selected folders or volumes with a second, remote NAS that supports the capability.

3. Disaster protected storage: As its name suggests, disaster protected storage — which can come in the form of DAS or NAS — is hardened against the type of disasters that would have easily destroyed unprotected data. For example, ioSafe says its disaster protected storage appliances can withstand fire for up to 30 minutes and total immersion in water for days.

4. Online storage: While it may seem intuitive to lump all online storage into the same category, there are actually two distinct types of offerings. Some, such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), serve as the cloud version of storage devices for the Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute platform. Then there’s the online storage designed to help consumers and businesses store or back up data in the cloud. For the purposes of this article, that’s what we mean by online storage.

Some of these services, such as MozyPro and SpiderOak, are designed specifically to serve businesses for data backup.

Cloud storage can work very well if backing up data incrementally, and requires no up-front capital investments. The downside, though, is that data retrieval may take an unacceptably long time should you require full data recovery.

5. Private Cloud: Not comfortable with placing their data in the hands of third-party public cloud vendors, some enterprises have taken to building privates version of cloud services to gain some of the inherent benefits of electricity and flexibility. Though this was once out of the reach of small business, innovations mean that small businesses may yet be able to tap into private cloud storage.

The Transporter, for example, is a network appliance that connects to a storage drive to share and synchronize its content. This can be done with client desktops or laptops, and with other Transporter devices. Meanwhile, BitTorrent Sync, currently in beta, lets computers with the correct secret key synchronize directly with one another over the Internet.

6. Offline media: This is commonly understood to be tape drives, but optical media such as DVD and Blu-Ray discs are occasionally used for the purpose of offline data backup. This “technology” may seem outdated, but don’t dismiss it yet: Tape backups have saved Google in at least one Gmail outage, and Facebook is experimenting with Blu-Ray discs for data backup (albeit with a robotic picker handling 10,000 discs in a storage system the size of an entire server rack).