Power critical medical equipment with high-performance SD Cards

As various industries become more reliant on increasingly complex equipment and networks to conduct operations, it's imperative that organizations ensure every component within those systems runs at an optimal level. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than within the healthcare industry, where an inefficient piece of equipment can prevent physicians from providing high-quality medical treatment. From imaging systems to patient monitoring equipment, keeping these machines performing requires a high-quality data storage device capable of quickly processing and transferring information. Panasonic's Industrial-grade SD Cards offer the latest in NAND flash memory, offering a combination of unparalleled performance and reliability.

With speed and durability to spare, Panasonic's latest line of industrial SD Cards are ideal for supporting critical medical equipment. Depending on the storage needs of a given machine, these single-level cell devices have capacities ranging from 2GB up to 16GB. When working with highly sensitive hardware, however, performance typically trumps storage. That is why these SD Cards feature lightning fast read/write speeds reaching up to 95 MB/s and 35 MB/s, respectively. With this level of functionality, vital medical devices such as blood analyzers,  DNA micro array synthesizers and automatic nursing-care systems will continue running optimally. If administrators do not implement the best flash memory available, this machinery may begin exhibiting worrisome performance issues including excessive lag times.

Invest for long-term performance
Sensitive and complex medical equipment can come with a steep price tag, driving the need for long-term hardware investments in this industry. In addition, replacing defective or inoperable components can be a time-consuming process requiring a great degree of high-tech skill and experience to execute properly. For organizations that install an industrial-strength Panasonic SD Card, new equipment investments can often be delayed for the foreseeable future as these devices will continue operating effectively for years on end.

One of the product line's most enticing features is its static wear leveling functionality. Some poorly constructed flash-based memory devices have relatively short shelf lives as they use up their storage blocks too quickly. Static wear leveling offers more durability and extends the life span of a solid state drive by using those blocks more efficiently.

Because of the various options available in the SD Card market, it's not always easy to identify the best device for a given machine. For instance, some products are only compatible with equipment of a certain speed class. To get the most value and performance out of their SD Cards, healthcare officials will need to ensure that they have been designed to interface effectively with the corresponding hardware. Going through a trusted and experienced data storage vendor such as DIGISTOR can clear up much of the confusion in this regard.

DIGISTOR's team of technicians are ready and willing to work with organizations to determine which tool is right for the job. With the support of DIGISTOR's expert staff, healthcare officials can rest easy knowing their investments will not be wasted on ineffective or poor-performing devices. Contact DIGISTOR today to discover how upgrading to an industrial-grade Panasonic SD Card can improve the performance and durability of critical medical equipment.

PRISM fallout highlights cloud storage concerns

In the aftermath of the NSA's recent PRISM scandal, numerous organizations across the globe have expressed concern regarding the integrity of their cloud-based storage solutions. Since 2007, the government agency has conducted clandestine work gathering information from Web-based sources, including collecting data from private businesses. Although officials have assured the public that these operations were executed in an attempt to combat terrorism, many enterprise business leaders became worried that their assets – particularly those residing in the cloud – were at risk. As a result, companies have removed their sensitive data files from cloud servers and have pursued alternative storage options, including on-site data archiving solutions.

The fallout has hit U.S.-based cloud service providers the hardest, with international organizations transferring their cloud-based assets to companies within their own country. The pervading belief is that international providers will be less beholden to hand over information to the U.S. government. According to a recent study conducted by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, the U.S. cloud computing industry could lose as much as $35 billion over the next three years because of fears related to the PRISM program.

VR-Zone contributor J. Angelo Racoma stated that service providers have attempted to alleviate these concerns by placing greater focus on their security offerings. California-based company Egnyte, for instance, recently released a product that is specifically tailored to prevent similar intrusions from occurring by creating access levels for different files based on their sensitivity.

Large corporations search for answers
Smaller organizations and start-ups aren't the only businesses clamoring to improve the security of their cloud solutions. Even large enterprises such as Microsoft have taken steps to enhance their data protection measures. The Local reported that the corporation recently announced it had selected the family-owned, Swedish cloud-hosting company, Ipeer, to beta test its Azure Pack suite. Ipeer marketing manager Erik Arnberg told The Local that his organization can ensure that data stored on its servers will stay in Sweden.

"Data sovereignty is increasingly the name of the game," Arnberg. "Many of the largest cloud providers can't even tell you with any certainty where exactly your data is when it's stored. … When the NSA scandal broke and companies saw the breadth of the surveillance, a lot of them started to rethink their approach to data safety and how they protected their data."

Despite these efforts, it has yet to be seen whether cloud providers will be able to effectively safeguard information stored on their servers. For organizational leaders and small business owners concerned about the integrity of their sensitive company data, it may be wise to wait and see how these new services perform before entrusting that information to a third party. On-site data archiving solutions often provide much more security than a cloud-based alternative. Because DIGISTOR's REWIND uses the Blu-ray media format to store data volumes, sensitive information can be securely stored without worrying about a potential network-based breach. In addition, REWIND offers elastic scalability, allowing business owners to expand their archiving efforts whenever they wish, providing peace of mind regarding the integrity of their valuable assets.

SSD drives give cinematographers flexibility, versatility

Independent filmmakers and professionals are increasingly finding that Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema camera delivers the flexibility they need to carry out a range of tasks. The commercial SSD cameras provide cinematographers with a versatile option, whether they are working at a holiday celebration or putting together a holiday-oriented commercial project for a major client.

Using Blackmagic's cameras is an intuitive experience for many cinematographers, Jaron Schneider wrote in Fstoppers. Switching to the company's product from those offered by other manufacturers can be a smooth and simple process. The cameras are compatible with professional SSD drives such as those offered by DIGISTOR. The company's Professional Series of SSD drives for video offer uncompressed video capture and reliable long-term recording of up to 480GB of footage.

"If you shoot video with digital single-lens reflex cameras, you'll notice the build is pretty similar to the Nikon or Canon bodies you are used to," Schneider wrote. "It doesn't have a grip, but it does sport the same boxy design. Unlike cameras such as the Sony FS7000, visually the design makes me immediately more comfortable with the camera since it mimics the look of what I know and love so closely. Not only that, it easily fits into nearly the same arrangement in bags and backpacks that my DSLRs do."

Filming events
Professional videographers are becoming key parts of weddings as more couples look to go beyond the services offered by photographers. Video shot by devices such as Blackmagic cameras using SSD drives has advantages over still photography that may not become evident until long after the event is over, Kellee Khalil wrote in The Huffington Post. Video can preserve not only how people looked at the time that an event was taking place, it can also preserve how they sounded and the way they moved. SSD drives can be used to preserve such memories captured through Blackmagic cameras for future generations.

"Both pictures and videos have an unreal quality: they can stop time," Khalil wrote. "But videos allow you to see and hear your grandfather's joy as you invite him onto the dance floor for a special dance alone with you."

Videographers also have the ability to capture moments around an event that might otherwise have gotten lost. In the case of a wedding, this could be the minutes of final preparation that the bride and groom go through before the ceremony or helpful advice offered by friends and family.

"Blackmagic Cinema Camera is both affordable and a complete solution because it includes a built-in recorder and monitoring, so it's perfect for displacing video-only cameras for work such as sporting events, weddings, music videos and more," ParksFernandez creative director and strategist Duane Fernandez wrote in Left Field Project.

Blu-ray delivery quality fares well against streaming services

Optical disc technology continues to present a viable option as a media format against digital streaming video content. Blu-ray discs can give users a way to present media in a sharp, crisp way for years to come.

High-definition streaming video has overtaken physical media in terms of sheer usage, Chris Heinonen wrote in HD Guru. Last year, viewers in the United States streamed 3.4 billion movies, while 2.4 billion were watched on Blu-ray discs and DVDs. He compared streaming video quality from VUDU, Amazon on Demand and Netflix and found that all three services fell short of the resolution and sound quality presented by Blu-ray.

"The clear winner was Blu-ray," Heinonen wrote. "The full DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray disc sounded clearer and more dynamic, with better surround usage and deeper bass. Compared with the streaming services, the image looked much more detailed, with no macroblocking or posterization artifacts. There were differences to be seen between the three services, however."

Blu-ray gives its users a way to see archived video and photos in a quality display that cannot be matched by streaming services. While streaming video offers high-quality resolution, Blu-ray does not have the same compression requirements that must be met in order to deliver content via the Internet, according to Home Theater review. The quality of an image delivered by streaming services as opposed to Blu-ray depends on the compression scheme used, such as MPEG2 or MPEG4. These vary, resulting in inconsistent quality delivery.

As companies work out the kinks with high-definition video-streaming services, Blu-ray will continue to reign as the go-to format for quality media. While organizations grapple with sustaining consistent quality over Web-based video offerings, the performance benefits of Blu-ray will drive interest in the technology for the foreseeable future.

Video game enthusiasts seek more versatile storage options

Hard disk drives used for backing up gaming data are becoming increasingly versatile by moving away from a strict focus to offering storage solutions for other media as well. Users seeking all-inclusive data archiving solutions can now turn to options that were formerly market-specific.

One case in point is DIGISTOR's Xbox 360 500GB hard disk drive, which also comes in a 1TB version. The device has been enhanced to provide 32GB of game content, while the rest of the drive can store movies, music and photos. Game storage is partitioned from other data in order to make it easy to transfer from one console to another. Other content stored on the drive can be accessed through the Xbox console and played on a television.

The drives allow users to store their game data, arcade titles and Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. A variety of other game-related content can also be stored on the drive, including game contents, avatar items, themes, icons, demos and trailers. Video files can be played back as standard or high-definition DivX or MPEG files, while users can listen to audio files and display album cover art.

The Xbox has been a popular and resilient gaming platform since its first generation was introduced in 2001. In the ensuing years, the platform's consoles have moved through their sixth through eighth generations, according to Statistic​ Brain. As of June, about 59.4 million Xbox 360 consoles and 384 million games have been sold. It has far outsold the original Xbox platform, which moved only about 24.7 million units.

Transformative gaming
The original Xbox served as an introduction to the platform and a stepping stone on Microsoft's way to introducing 3-D graphics, Chris Kohler wrote in Wired. When the Xbox 360 was introduced in 2005, it ushered in an era in which more storage space became necessary for console gamers. Gamers found that they could back back up their data through external drives and that they needed the extra capacity as games became increasingly complex.

"Online multiplayer gaming was about to transition from an experimental add-on feature to a key component of the console gaming experience, and the next-gen Xbox would be built around the idea of delivering a consistent, system-level experience," Kohler wrote.

The Xbox 360 is expected to remain on the market through 2016, and 100 new games are planned for it, Wesley Yin-Poole wrote in EuroGamer. The platform will work side-by-side with the recently released Xbox One console. DIGISTOR's Xbox 360 hard drive will continue to fill a vital need for gamers who need more storage space.

SSD drives boost durability, critical application performance

For years, hard disk drives have remained the go-to storage solution for both consumers and business users. The pairing of generous capacity with a relatively low cost of investment made them a popular option for individuals and organizations looking to get the most bang for their buck. As technology advances, however, devices based on the operation of magnetic storage options have begun to show some cracks in their foundation. 

HDDs are fundamentally dependent on the performance of their internal moving parts. When users want to either copy data to a drive or access files already stored on it, they must wait for the device's read/write heads to position into place. This delay results in noticeable lag time between the moment an individual clicks on an application or file and when it actually launches. Consumers and employees who have waited a seemingly interminable stretch of time for their desktop PCs to boot can thank the physical limitations of HDDs.

Today, many business users need to be able to access their critical applications as soon as possible, but this may not be achievable as long as HDDs are exclusively tasked with data storage demands. The emergence of solid state technology has provided a high-performing alternative to the sluggish application launches offered by magnetic storage. SSD drives run on flash-based memory and are devoid of any internal moving components, so they are not beholden to similar physical limitations. If crucial applications are moved to a flash-based storage device, they can be launched more quickly. In addition, users can store their operating systems on an SSD drive to boot up their computers without delay. 

The performance benefits of solid state technology and NAND flash memory have made SSDs extremely popular among consumers and employees who require more responsiveness from their hardware. For example, CNET Asia contributor Michael Tan recently suggested that new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners consider replacing their machine's standard hard drive with an SSD or a hybrid solution.

"[I]t's clear that SSDs and hybrid drives (mechanical drive with some flash) outperforms the stock hard drive substantially," Tan wrote. "Going for the SSD option with your new PS4 and Xbox One will save you lots of time every day."

SSDs continue running in harsh conditions
Tan also noted that the increased durability of SSD drives would likely keep these video game systems running longer as they are less susceptible to damaging internal heat fluctuations. The rugged nature of flash memory has made it a hallmark of the industrial sector for decades, but only recently have traditional businesses and consumers been able to appreciate these benefits. One issue that HDD owners must remain cognizant of is the short shelf life these devices typically offer. The hardware's internal components are extremely delicate and can be easily damaged even under normal operating conditions. When these parts breakdown, the data stored on an HDD may not be recoverable.

Conversely, the NAND flash memory powering SSD drives offers years of reliable service. Storage Reviews conducted a comparison of the new formats and found that SSDs far outpaced magnetic-based options in regard to durability and lifespan.

"[NAND-based flash] is a non-volatile type of memory," the source stated. "What does non-volatile mean you ask? The simple answer is that you can turn off the disk and it won't 'forget' what was stored on it. This is of course an essential characteristic of any type of permanent memory. … [Y]ou can read and write to an SSD all day long and the data storage integrity will be maintained for well over 200 years. In other words, the data storage life of an SSD can outlive you!"

DIGISTOR's Industrial SSD drives offer the durability and performance needed to run critical processes under any circumstances. These devices can be customized to fit the unique needs of a particular organization, ensuring that applications and systems can be launched on demand whenever needed.

Add security to cloud storage options with data archiving

Since the advent of cloud computing, many critics have questioned the stability and security of these services, particularly in regard to data storage. Business users and consumers alike have turned to the cloud for their primary or supplementary storage needs, entrusting the safekeeping of critical files and information to third parties. Most of the concerns surrounding cloud-based data storage have centered around the issue of cybersecurity. Many company leaders hold an intrinsic mistrust toward external organizations promising to hold and protect sensitive information on remote servers. Despite any assurances that can be offered by these businesses, cloud service providers are just as vulnerable to a data breach as any other entity.

Dropbox, for instance, has been on the receiving end of multiple data breaches, driving concerns regarding the organization's ability to effectively secure access to user information. Earlier this year, two white-hat developers circumvented the company's security processes, allowing them to potentially hijack Dropbox accounts and even view encrypted files, according to Computerworld. If these methods fell into the wrong hands, accounts belonging to numerous users could be susceptible to a costly and damaging breach.

Will cloud storage be available for the long haul?
There is another major issue that cloud storage users should concern themselves with, however. In recent months, multiple cloud-based data storage providers have shuttered operations, leaving their clientele in the lurch. The closure of Nirvanix placed many of its customers in a bind, as many needed to find alternative storage solutions for large volumes of data within a short period of time. According to TechTarget contributor Jim Lyons, more than 1,000 Nirvanix users were given mere weeks to move approximately 40 petabytes of files to other servers or devices. Although industry observers such as Computer Weekly contributor Simon Robinson noted that such closures are not necessarily indicative of a widespread trend, cloud storage clients should take precautions to ensure they aren't left in the cold if their provider closes up shop.

While Nirvanix customers were given some forewarning that they needed to migrate their data elsewhere, this isn't always the case. Network World reported that clients of MegaCloud were recently unable to access the data storage provider's services without any prior notice. 

"When attempting to access MegaCloud.com, it returns a notice that the site could not be found," the source stated. "None of the other sites associated with MegaCloud work either, such as the features page, pricing information and the contact links."

With no forthcoming information regarding the nature of the outage or a timetable for when clients can expect services to resume – assuming they ever do – MegaCloud users have been forced to carry on without the files, documents and data they stored through the organization. For consumers, this may represent a mere inconvenience, but business-oriented clients may not be able to access critical information that was entrusted to MegaCloud. This lack of data availability could have drastic repercussions for many users who rely on this cloud-based data storage service.

To avoid similar outages from adversely affecting small business operations, company leaders should consider deploying state-of-the-art data archiving solutions. These organizations cannot afford to lose access to their critical information and need to have backup alternatives in place if primary options go down. DIGISTOR REWIND offers a secure, reliable and cost-effective method to archive valuable data for long-term access. Because this service utilizes high-capacity Blu-ray discs, businesses can extend the range of their backup efforts as far as they wish. When one disc has reached its capacity, another can simply be inserted to continue the archiving process. In order to begin benefiting from DIGISTOR REWIND, organizations only need to install a quality Blu-ray burner and compatible discs. This way, small business owners can rest easy knowing their valuable data will be available at any time even if their primary options are inaccessible.

Flash memory boosts system, application performance

One of the most frustrating things for a business user to have to contend with is an unresponsive computer or application. For many organizations, including members of the healthcare industry, a sluggish software program could lead to costly delays that may impede operations. Typically, individuals tend to blame their computer's processor or RAM for any perceived performance drops, but the culprit could be lurking within their storage device. Many businesses opt to use magnetic-based platforms such as hard disk drives for most – if not all – of their data storage needs. HDDs can supply a large amount of storage space at a relatively low price, making them extremely popular with a wide swath of consumers and business users. However, this technology also has some fundamental performance issues that could prove to be extremely problematic.

HDDs and other magnetic-based storage devices are limited by the structure of their internal components. In order to copy, store and access data files, this equipment uses read/write heads to interact with the magnetic spinning platter. The physical limitations of these internal parts can result in significant lag times as users wait for the read/write heads to move into position. Although HDDs with faster RPMs can alleviate these problems to some extent, this technology will never be able to offer immediate program or application launches.

SSDs on the rise
According to Forbes contributor Tom Coughlin, the performance benefits of solid state drives have led more businesses to consider either replacing or supplementing their traditional HDD storage devices with this high-quality technology. He cited figures from the latest Coughlin Associates Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, stating that performance enterprise HDD shipments remained stagnant during the third quarter of 2013. More organizations are turning to SSD drives to enhance their ability to launch critical applications and programs as quickly as possible. Because these devices run on flash-based memory and are not beholden to the physical limitations of moving parts, they can boot up operating systems and execute software requests in far less time than an HDD.

"Traditional performance enterprise HDDs are being replaced by flash memory or a combination of flash memory and capacity HDDs," Coughlin wrote. He continued, "Using flash memory storage to replace traditional performance HDDs increases the effective average data rate by 10 times or more and this has made SSDs the best choice for many performance enterprise applications."

One of the areas in which SSD technology has clearly demonstrated its value is within embedded systems. Many of today's advanced networks and systems depend on embedded hardware in order to continue operating at a high level. In the healthcare sector, this equipment includes imaging devices and patient monitoring networks. With an embedded flash-based memory drive, this critical hardware will run optimally, offering the reliable performance needed to provide high-quality patient care. It's imperative that medical professionals invest in only the best flash-based solutions available, as their critical systems may not be able to operate properly with a lesser model. DIGISTOR's mSATA SSD devices can be integrated with this hardware to keep them running smoothly and effectively.

Configure flash-based devices for optimal performance
As advanced as SSD solutions are, it's still important that users take the time to properly configure them in order to maximize their output and performance boosts. Computer Weekly contributor Alex D'Anna noted that some individuals have experienced only marginal enhancements with their flash memory upgrades, when they were expecting much more. D'Anna explained that there are a number of potential issues – typically pertaining to legacy equipment – that could adversely affect the operability of a flash-based storage device. Many of these problems are the result of improper configuration on the part of the adopter. Given the complex nature of this technology, it's understandable that non-technical users would have some trouble setting up their hardware to wring the most value out of it.

These difficulties highlight the need for a storage provider that can offer the personalized attention needed to ensure that a new SSD drive runs at its highest capacity. DIGISTOR mSATA solutions can be customized to meet the unique demands of a particular organization. This may include tweaking form factors, increasing durability to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations and configuring internal settings to interact with critical systems. Whatever performance capacity an organization requires out of its SSD devices, DIGISTOR can provide the answer.

A reliable mSATA SSD solution offers massive performance boosts that can remove the strain of running intensive processes from legacy hardware. Because this technology leverages flash-based memory, critical applications can be launched quickly, effectively and reliably. In addition, by transitioning these applications from primary data storage devices, that equipment can be better utilized for other means. When looking to upgrade the storage capabilities of their embedded systems, organizational leaders should ensure that they choose a solution that will provide years of service. DIGISTOR mSATA SSD utilizes advanced wear leveling techniques to prolong the life of its internal components and continue running at an optimal level.

Why do hard drives have less actual space than advertised?

How much storage space are users actually getting when they buy a new computer or hard drive? In many cases, the formatted capacity is much lower than what's advertised.

There are several reasons for this discrepancy, including differences in how computers and humans count, as well as the widespread bundling of space-hogging software. Either way, users aren't getting the transparency they need, especially in light of how the gap is more pronounced the larger the hard drive is.

Why hard drive storage space doesn't live up to its billing
Most of the world counts in base ten, or decimal, notation, in which each number is ten times the value of the number to its immediate right. However, computers utilize the base two, or binary, which contributes to the discrepancy.

For example, a kilobyte is equal to 1000 bytes (ten to the third power) in decimal. However, a kilobyte is actually 1024 bytes (two to the tenth power) in binary. At a small scale, such a discrepancy is nearly insignificant, but with large drives, users may be looking at as much as several Gigabytes' worth of difference. The International Electrotechnical Commission has defined a Gigabyte as 1000 bytes (using the decimal system), enabling manufacturers to advertise that hard drive have more capacity than they actually do, according to Popular Mechanics.

Writing for TheNextWeb, Paul Sawers bemoaned this practice, stating that consumers have no way of knowing a computer's storage capacity without purchasing it. For users that need large amounts of hard drive space, the discrepancy is not only misleading, but a bad financial deal, too.

"The broader issue for many people is less about this discrepancy than it is about a lack of clarity and transparency on what you're actually getting for your money," Sawers asserted. "If you're paying north of [$2400/$1600] for a state-of-the-art, super-duper Ultrabook, surely it's not unreasonable to have the full information at your disposal when making that buying decision?"

Bundled software exacerbates hard drive storage space discrepancies
The decimal/binary divide is only part of the issue. Many PCs come with a large amount of pre-installed software from OEMs and/or software vendors.

Examples may include security scanners or productivity suites. Combined with the basic mathematical issues, these bundles can eat up tons of space. Sawers explained that some laptops ship with less than half of the advertised capacity available to users. A "128GB" laptop may end up with roughly 60GB of real space.

Ideally, retailers and manufacturers will eventually come up with a more transparent system for advertising hard drive space. Until then, consumers will have to keep an eye out and buy carefully.