In the 20+ years I have been writing this newsletter, I have repeated one statement over and over: “the price of hardware keeps dropping,” and that has never been more true than today. This morning I added a six-terabyte drive to one of my computers. You can do the same within a minute or two and at a reasonable price.
I made a mistake. I stopped at the local Best Buy store. For me, that is like being a child in a candy store. I walked in with the intention of buying a 4-terabyte Western Digital external hard drive that was on sale. I quickly found the drive that I had in mind but then noticed the external disk drive right beside it on the shelf: a Western Digital SIX-TERABYTE external hard drive. Oh oh, I had to have it.
Of course, justifying the purchase was easy. The price for the six-terabyte drive was cheaper than the 4 terabyte device when I calculated the price per terabyte. I pulled out a credit card and soon walked out of the store with the larger capacity drive, feeling only a little bit guilty.
I arrived home, unboxed the drive, plugged it into a USB connector on the back of my Macintosh (the same drive also works on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP as well as on Linux computers), and I started a backup of the entire primary hard drive of my computer. That required a few hours to complete. I then copied about 12,000 MP3 music files and a dozen or so television programs I had previously recorded and a few movies as well. I now have a complete media center in my computer and, using a number of different programs, I can play the videos through the 65-inch, high definition television in the living room and also play music files through my stereo system.
That’s not cheap, but it certainly is a lot cheaper than what the same amount of storage cost a few years ago!
I remember my first hard drive, purchased more than 30 years ago. It was a 20-megabyte drive. That’s right, not terabytes, not gigabytes, but megabytes. I thought it had huge storage capacity. “I’ll never fill this one up!” You can guess what happened next: I filled it up.
That 20-megabyte disk drive cost $620, roughly $31 per megabyte. In contrast, today’s purchase of a 6-terabyte disk drive cost less than $0.00003 per megabyte! As I have said many times over the years, “The price of hardware keeps dropping.”
I now have on-site backups of my important genealogy data, checkbook, tax records, insurance policies, medical records, and all my important vegan recipes. Of course, I do not depend upon in-home backups alone. A fire or hurricane or burst water pipe could destroy the in-home backups and the computer simultaneously. For the most important files, I have additional backup copies in a couple of file storage services in the cloud. I feel that is cheap insurance, and the cloud-based files are all securely encrypted so that no hacker, not even the NSA, can access my important vegan recipes or anything else.
I don’t store music files and movies in the cloud simply because that still costs too much although such storage is becoming cheaper every month.
The $199 “investment” strikes me as cheap insurance. The information stored in my new external hard drive is worth a lot more than $199 to me. If I printed everything on paper and then wanted to file it, the required physical filing cabinets alone would cost a lot more than $200. A single 4-drawer filing cabinet costs anywhere from $75 to $200 or more, depending upon quality and whether or not it has a lock. I would need a number of such filing cabinets to store 6 terabytes of information. In my new “electronic filing cabinet” everything is locked up in encrypted files, and it requires a lot less space than multiple 4-drawer filing cabinets as well.
I haven’t calculated the price of the required paper and toner cartridges to store 6 terabytes of information on paper, but that would not be cheap, either.
You, too, can acquire this cheap insurance. High capacity disk drives are now available at reasonable prices, much cheaper than purchasing filing cabinets with equivalent storage capacity. Installing and using such a disk drive is almost a “no-brainer.” I took my new disk drive out of the box, plugged its USB cable into the back of my computer and its power cord into a wall outlet, booted the computer, and started copying files immediately. No software installation was necessary.
NOTE: All recent Macintosh computers already have Time Machine software installed. It is one of the best backup programs I have seen and is already installed in every Mac at no additional charge. Windows users will find simplistic backup programs pre-installed but probably will want to obtain a more robust backup program from a third party. There are many such backup programs to choose from, and almost all of them work better than Microsoft’s own backup programs.
I chose a Western Digital disk drive simply because I have owned a number of disk drives from Western Digital over the years, and all of them have been very reliable. I don’t remember a single one of them that has failed. However, Western Digital certainly isn’t the only disk drive manufacturer, and it is possible that you may have equally good results from a disk drive made by a different manufacturer.
I purchased my 6-terabyte Western Digital disk drive from Best Buy for $199, but I believe it is available from any number of other retailers for the same price or possibly even less. I found it listed on Amazon at http://goo.gl/7rLFE9 for the same price. If you are an Amazon Prime customer, that price even includes two-day free shipping.
Wait a minute! I just noticed that Amazon is selling an EIGHT-TERABYTE Western Digital external hard drive for only $249 at http://goo.gl/s74tmC. Do I still have my credit card handy?
“The price of hardware keeps dropping.”
“I’ll never fill this one up!”