Another day another “cloud” back-up company…

Lately there has been a large number of online “cloud” back-up companies popping up and announcing large funding commitments from their venture partners. From a business strategy perspective it seems to make a lot of sense, as essentially online back-up providers are selling customers the promise of data preservation, and using economies of scale to maximize profits for their shareholders. While I can certainly understand and respect this cloud back-up strategy from a business and finance perspective, as a user I question the effectiveness for many reasons. I am most concerned about the security of the actual data transfer as well as how secure my stored data actually is.  Is your data secure and encrypted when you transfer it?  Is it safe once it is sitting on your provider’s servers?  What happens if your provider’s infrastructure isn’t quite as robust as they have advertised? What happens when your cloud back-up provider goes out of business?

History proves that fashionable companies such as this come and go and today’s in vogue cloud back-up provider is yesterday’s pets.com, or other defunct dot com bust of years past.

Companies such as Carbonite (www.carbonoite.com) like to promote “worry free back-up” which is great until your hard drive is fried and you need to restore your collection of files, photos and videos.  How do you know your data will be there for you, and if it is, how long will it take for you to get the critical files you so desperately need?

I was reading documentation from Carbonite’s SEC filing last year where they had to release inherent business and technology risks before their public offering, and I found the following statements to be very disturbing.

The company wrote that a disruption in service could be very harmful for its business, indicating that there have been occasional interruptions, but nothing serious so far. However, the company does not keep separate redundant copies of customer files, meaning that a Carbonite data center failure, at the same time as a customer failure, could mean a loss in data.

“Our systems provide redundancy at the disk level, but do not keep separate, redundant copies of backed up customer files. Instead, we rely on the fact that our customers, in effect, back up our system by maintaining the primary instance of their files. We do not intend to create redundant backup sites for our solutions. As such, a total failure of our systems, or the failure of any of our systems, could result in the loss of or a temporary inability to back up our customers’ data and result in our customers being unable to access their stored files,” the company wrote.
Via: http://www.crn.com/news/storage/231002967/carbonite-prices-ipo-at-106-million-outlines-business-risks.htm

No redundant files?  Who is accountable for your data if they do have an outage, or data corruption?  That’s right.  It is still your responsibility to have a local back-up or archive or you will have little recourse if your data is corrupted by a 3rd party provider.

A few of my personal key worry points:

  1. It will take a very long time to upload the data.  If you have over 200GB’s it could take weeks to upload.
  2. It will take a very long time to restore all data if needed. If I need everything back, I want it quickly.
  3. How secure is the data being sent out to the internet?
  4. How secure is my resting data on 3rd party cloud back-up provider’s servers?
  5. How robust is the capacity and infrastructure planning?

I am not 100% against online back-up.  I do think there is potentially a place for it in your workflow, and the most notable value I would say is having a copy of your data completely offsite in case of a natural disaster.  With that said I am far from sold on this model from an overall data integrity point of view and question the validity of the long term effectiveness of this model. And isn’t that what your back-up or personal archive plan should be about anyway, the long term?  Your back-up and personal archive plan shouldn’t be about a trendy business model or marketing tactic, it should be a way of protecting precious memories and files for the rest of your life.

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3 Steps to a Perfect Personal Archive

Archiving your digital assets, especially your can’t-live-without documents and photos, is more important now than ever before. Everything we create, save, and share is on our PC or Mac computers. Fortunately, archiving your entire digital life has become more affordable, and amazingly easy with the release of DIGISTOR’s consumer friendly archiving application called REWIND™. DIGISTOR has seen an increased interest in Blu-ray burners and 50GB BD-R media for archiving use, especially in the Mac community as of late. REWIND™ allows your PC and Mac to turn into a powerful permanent archiving machine.

You will need:

  • A Blu-ray burner
    • DIGISTOR offers a great slim sized external Blu-ray burners for ease of installation, and portability. One Blu-ray burner can be transferred to all the PC’s and Mac’s in your house!

     

  • Blu-ray recordable discs

     

  • Archiving Software
    • This is where REWIND™ comes in. We’ll be going over the 3 easy steps to creating a perfect personal archive with REWIND™. You don’t have to use DIGISTOR brand Blu-ray burners and Blu-ray media with REWIND though. If you already own a Blu-ray burner, we will be offering REWIND™ as retail software next month.

Step 1: Give your Archive a Name

Yes, we said this would be amazingly easy. A full step dedicated to giving your archive a name. REWIND™ can continue to span discs once the Blu-ray is full. You don’t have to limit your archives to just one specific group of photos like “Our Vacation to Hawaii”. You can broaden out your archive and save every byte of your photo albums and start an archive called “World Travels 2012”. Some other examples might be “Entire Music Archive” or “Scanned Documents”.

Step 2: Select Your Files

REWIND™ has a great file browser for maneuvering your computer and selecting files to archive. The thumbnail view makes it a breeze to view a large icon or thumbnail views of photos. Easily select a file or folder by choosing the checkbox next to it. You can click ‘n drag to select multiple items at once. For large archives, the select all button works really well. Visit the Pictures shortcut on the left, hit “Select All” and bam, you have all your photos selected for archiving.

An additional easy to use feature for selecting files and folders is the drag ‘n drop ability to add files and folders to the archive by choosing them from your regular PC or Mac file system and just dragging the files or folders on top of the REWIND™ Select Files window. The files and folders are now automatically selected in REWIND™.

 

Step 2b: Review your choices in the Preview Files Tab

Not really a full step in itself, REWIND™ gives you a list view to review your choices and make any final decisions to remove a file or folder.

 

Step 3: Create Your Archive

Yes, step 3 is nearly as simple as Step 1! All the settings are already chosen for you, but we’ll review them here anyway. If you’re using an External DIGISTOR Blu-ray burner, make sure it is plugged in, switched ON, and loaded with your favorite brand of BD-R or BD-RE media. The Choose Archive Burner dropdown only shows Blu-ray drives which means your burner should automatically be selected.

Select your archive speed from the second drop down. REWIND™ also does this for you by automatically selecting the maximum speed the drive and media can burn together.

REWIND™ gives your disc a name, but you have the chance to change that on this step as well. The disc name will have an appended disc number after it has been burned.

REWIND™ can verify the data while writing to the disc. This is checked ON by default, so you can have peace of mind that your data was verified as it was written to the disc. This does lengthen the overall burn time, but for important long term archives it’s worth the wait.

Click Archive it!

That’s it! You’ve archived your favorite documents, pictures, music, or all of the above!

Remember to write the name of your archive and what disc number it is so you can have a pleasant restore process if needed in the future.

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Another Look at Backup vs. Archive

Much has been written over the years about the difference between backup and archive but there is often still confusion. With all the buzz surrounding cloud storage and online backup lately, we figured it was time to revisit the discussion.
Backup to HDD or Archive to BD-R

Let’s start with a simple definition of the terms:

Backup: Backup is the process of copying active data (data that changes often) to some type of storage media as a form of short-term protection should your files become corrupted, deleted or destroyed.

Archive: Archiving is the long-term storage of your permanent digital assets; data that does not change such as photos, videos, music and business data.

What many people fail to consider when choosing a data storage solution is; what are you really trying to accomplish? Is it the ability to access a copy of recently changed data? Do you want a permanent, secure copy of their most precious files? What about the ability to quickly restore lost data or files? Or, are you simply looking for a way to easily collaborate and share files online? If you are like most of us it is probably all of the above. There is no single solution to satisfy all of these requirements and it is important to understand the difference between a backup and an archive. Here are a few things think about when considering your personal or small business data storage needs.

A backup is a copy of your current state of data, meaning it’s usually retained for a relatively short period of time and superseded with a new backup as the data changes. In most cases this means using a rewritable storage media such an external hard drive, flash drive, rewritable optical disc or an online backup provider. These can all be excellent forms of data storage for backup, but again it is important to distinguish the difference between a backup copy (temporary) and an archive (permanent).

Now let’s talk about archive, which is designed to provide long-term storage and rapid access to your permanent data. That is, data that will not change and that you would never want over-written. Archiving is generally performed less often than backup but this really depends on individual requirements. And, unlike backups, an archive should be copied to a write-once media that cannot be altered or overwritten. Because of the longevity, and reliability of BD-R recordable media, DIGISTOR has long been an advocate of Blu-ray disc for archiving.

So you ask what should I do, backup or archive? The answer is both. To manage continuous backup and protection of changes to your latest novel, project or work assignment, an online storage provider or external hard drive will do the trick. For permanent storage of your photos, videos, music and files you need an archive or permanent data storage solution. Most experts agree that an ideal storage workflow consists of multiple backups in multiple locations as well as a permanent archive.

I realize we are just scratching the surface on a very complex issue and there are several factors to consider when developing a backup and data storage plan. Hopefully, this article provides you with some understanding of the difference between backup and archive and gives you some food for thought when considering your own strategy.

We welcome your comments, feedback or suggestions below or connect with us on FB, Twitter or YouTube.

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Top 5 cool functions you can perform with your Blu-ray Burner…

Since its emergence into the market just a few short years ago, Blu-ray technology has evolved into one of the most stable, cost effective and remarkable technologies to take up space in the optical drive arena. What once was considered a high cost alternate to DVD drives and recordable DVD media, is now the most economical and advanced substitute (if not soon-to-be the replacement) for traditional DVD. With its cost reducing dramatically and its almost limitless archival capabilities, Blu-ray technology has become the technology of choice for Film, Television, Videography, and Photography professionals worldwide.

Fortunately for us, DIGISTOR has always been at the forefront of this progression and over the years, has sold tens of thousands of Blu-ray recordable drives into the market. We are excited to see what the next phase of Blu-ray technology has in store, and with so much experience and knowledge under our belt, we wanted to share with you the 5 coolest functions you can perform with your Blu-ray burner.

1. Archive all your digital assets for life!
Digistor Multimedia & Archive KitYou may have tons of photos, videos and music that you’d like to keep forever. Some stored on hard drives, or backed up on cloud storage, and perhaps some just sitting on your computer desktop. Rather than risk the failure of the hard drive your files are on, or the reliability of your cloud storage provider, why not utilize Blu-ray disc and Archive software to consolidate all your precious memories and files into one central location? Yes, you can use Blu-ray to conveniently archive all your files safely and easily! When stored in dry cool conditions and depending on the quality your Blu-ray media, 50 years is a very realistic number for archival life. Compare that with the average 3 to 5 year life expectancy of a Hard Drive.

2. Archive and view your favorite movies and TV series on a single disc….

One of my favorite uses for my Blu-Recorder is to burn all my favorite TV show seasons onto a single disc. For example, I will rip and compress a full season of The Office to an .AVI or .MP4 file format and burn them to a 25 GB Blu-ray Disc. This helps me in a few ways. First, I now have an archive of my favorite show by season labeled and at my fingertips whenever I want it. Secondly, I can now duplicate a quick copy and share with any of my friends and family. Sure nowadays you can simply just stream these shows directly from the TV Network’s website but they are only available for a limited time and I like to have an archive of each season.

25GB BD-R 6X Media

I typically archive my favorite shows, movies and even some special sporting events that I may want to go back and watch at a later date. How do you play these types of discs? Well, some Blu-ray players, such as the Playstation 3, can play .AVI’s or .MP4 files straight off a Blu-ray disc. You may want to check the abilities of your Blu-ray player before trying this.  For a great convertor take a look at: http://www.dvdfab.com/tutorial/Convert-Blu-ray-to-MP4

3. Play HD Blu-ray Movies on your PC

Digistor External Blu-ray Burner

Maybe you filmed and edited your own Blu-ray movie or you have a brand new release from Warner Brothers, by utilizing Blu-ray playback software for your PC you can watch high definition content directly on your computer! There are a lot of choices when it comes to PC playback software but I prefer Total Media Extreme from ArcSoft. DIGISTOR actually bundles this software with our DIG-79102 external Blu-ray drive.

 

This software is expensive to bundle into our package but we feel it’s worth it as the product simply delivers when it comes to the playback features. Officially there is NO support to play back Blu-ray movies on Apple computers but we did find and test it with software that claims it can do so. http://www.macblurayplayer.com/ Unfortunately, we saw mixed results and do not support the product at this time. If you try it I would love to hear the results so please post it on our Facebook page or comment below.

4. Utilize Recordable Blu-Ray Recordable media for Cheap Permanent StorageDigistor 50GB BD-R Recordable Media

I hear from friends and family all the time how “cheap” hard drive costs are nowadays. I can’t say I disagree but when you look at the long term costs of Blu-ray as a permanent storage platform it is very inexpensive. The fact is that you don’t have to transfer your data every few years from Blu-ray Disc™ as you do fragile hard drives, which makes the pricing even better. Let’s put aside the acquisition cost of the Blu-ray burner for now and just look at around a $4.00 price per 50GB disc. With that rational you can procure 500GB of storage for about $40.00! That is a tremendous value on a platform that keeps your data safe, secure, and portable.

You buy a drive once and add storage as you need it, completely modular and scalable for long term storage of digital assets. Don’t give up on hard drives all together; they do have their place for everyday use and collaboration. However, for long term permanent storage Blu-ray is by far the best bang for your buck!

 

5. Become your own Hollywood Director…

Archive your life

The tools available to shoot, edit and distribute high definition video these days are truly AMAZING! I just returned from the NAB show in Las Vegas where I viewed many different types of capture devices, editing software and Blu-ray Authoring Software. Obviously, you can spend a lot of money on some of these products and some can be hard and tough to learn. However, there are some very easy to use products out there that allow you to create, edit and author all from the same program. These are programs that years ago were thousands of dollars that can now be procured for around $100. There are several on the market, we currently bundle ArcSoft TotalMediaExtreme 2 with all of our External Blu-ray Burners, a software suite that typically retails for $130 and is a great starter package. You should research the options and see what you are comfortable with before spending too much money.

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