Online data storage has been, for many years, a topic that most of us hardly thought about. But with many computer functions moving online from your desktop, the subject is now assuming increasing significance. This presents the latest overview of current technology.
~ Reliability ~
Online data storage is now more reliable than local storage on a DVD or external hard drive. That is because major online file storage companies store copies of your data on multiple servers.
These servers are connected together in a storage network. If any one of these fails, your data is safe on all the others. On the other hand, if your backup DVD fails, guess what happens to your data.
~ Cost ~
Lets say you wanted to store 500 GB for 24 months. Using redundant disks and servers for super reliability, your cost would be around $3000.
And that doesn’t include floor space, air-conditioning, security, electricity bills, building maintenance costs, hardware repair expenses and hardware/software maintenance contracts. Assuming all these at a reasonable 10% per year, we’re talking $600 in overheads, for a grand total of $3,600.
One of the most reliable online data storage networks charges 15 cents per Gigabyte per month for storage. 500 GB would cost $75 per month. It would take 48 months to cost $3600.
In addition, the cost of online storage space will steadily decrease over those 48 months, so loking at cost over the sensible long-term, you’re seeing a good picture.
~ Speed ~
Let’s say you have a popular online photo-sharing site. There are times when there are thousands of photo uploads per minute. To exemplify what I’m going to say, suppose you had all the photos stored on a web server consisting of one or two CPUs. How would they react to the demand?
They would slow down. Your users would probably have to wait at least half an hour for their downloads to start.
Not so with an efficient, large online storage service. As mentioned earlier, your data is housed on multiple servers (CPUs) , and additional servers kick in as required to serve the downloads. No single server is overloaded, and no user experiences a delay in his download to start (incidentally, this delay is called ‘latency’).
~ Finally ~
Online data storage is now equivalent in cost, faster and more reliable than storage on small CPUs or web servers.
It’s time to start considering online data storage seriously, whether it’s for backing up a few GB of personal files or for storing a multimedia database for paid services.