Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Safe Storage

All summer, squirrels ventured onto our deck, as if to taunt our cats. We've seen less of them there, since colder weather has arrived, although we see them foraging on the ground and racing up the trees. I suspect they are storing acorns and other food in a safe spot for winter.

Like squirrels, the survival of a business often depends upon its storage.  I’m talking about data storage, of course, and reliable disk backup is crucial to protecting valuable information from computer failure, natural disasters and penetration by hackers.  Any individual, who has experience a computer crash, knows the frustration caused by data loss.  Until recent years, however, only a limited number of individuals performed regular backups.    The process is much simpler nowadays and almost everyone has experienced this kind of loss or knows someone who has.  This provides an excellent incentive for individuals to backup their personal computers.

The daily or weekly backups that work for personal use are insufficient for businesses that have multiple data changes in the space of a few minutes or even seconds.  The solution lies in redundancy.  Contrary to what I learned about redundancy in school, redundancy in computer storage is a great thing.  RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) describes a storage technology that allows data to be stored on multiple computer disk drives in a fast and reliable manner.  The first RAID appeared in the late eighties and has gone through a number of refinements in the intervening years.  While speed is a crucial factor, recovery is just as important.  Early RAID software required system shutdown for recovery.  In contrast, RAID6 can continue to function with up to two disk failures, although it is more expensive.  That cost is probably small next to the loss of business caused by computer shutdown. 

I’ll bet the squirrels wish they had storage that secure!

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