The Storage Conundrum: Gigabytes & Terabytes

The Storage Conundrum: Gigabytes & Terabytes

Range Govindan
Oct 6, 2010

With ever expanding storage, you start to wonder how much storage do you actually need. Movies, TV shows, photos, and music tend to take up a lot of space over time. That makes you wonder, how much do you actually need?

Most laptops can be configured with at least 500GB of storage. Some of the larger desktop replacement laptops have enough room for two hard drives, like the Dell Alienware M17. Solid state drives are also an option, albeit an expensive one. For now, it makes more sense to have traditional hard drives in your laptops.

At home, we tend to think that more storage is better than not enough. It makes sense to use a Drobo, or a similar device, as a sort of home server to dump all of your data. The most convenient option would be to have a NAS, which could be accessible via WiFi by any computer in your home network. That's pretty interesting, because you'd need only a single device to store all of your family's data. If you're thinking about using a NAS, then you should be using one that allows RAID, which means that you'll plug in more than one hard drive into it. RAID is a controller that allows you to make sure that if one of your hard drives inside your enclosure fails, the other one will still have all of your data stored safely. You can set it up different ways, but if you're going to store everything onto one device, it makes sense to be prudent.

As for size, we usually recommend getting the biggest hard disk possible, without spending too much. 2TB hard drives sell for between $100-150, which is pretty good for this amount of storage. Remember that 2TB equals 2,000GB of storage. There is a drawback when you're setting up this kind of device: the initial cost. A Drobo with 2×2TB of storage will set you back at least $650. The same setup, using two Western Digital My Book external hard drives will cost $270. However, a Drobo-like device will allow you to add on extra storage by simply popping in another hard drive whereas the external hard drive can be cheaper to run initially, but will be harder to manage if it fails.

If you're simply going to be using an external hard drive, we suggest getting a 2TB drive with an enclosure that includes a fan. We've had a couple of hard drives fail due to overheating. Yes, they are noisier, but if you plan on leaving your hard drive on for longer periods of time, then you need a fan.

[images via Dion Tavenier, Yugatech]

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