July 22, 2008, 12:00 PM — A terabyte - and still the mess persists
Yesterday, in an expensive city, I purchased 1 terabyte of disk space for about 300 dollars. My long suffering wife was with me at the time. She could not understand the look of amazement on my face and the mutterings of "wow" that I spewed forth for an hour afterwards.
In that same city, twenty years ago, I remember working with an "external hard disk" for an IBM PC XT computer. It doubled the capacity from the default of 10 megabytes to a whopping 20 megabytes and cost - if memory serves me - the equivalent of thousands of dollars.
And yet, and yet...for all my storage space, my backups are a bit of a mess. I have a slew of tapes, CDs and DVDs, some Iomega zips, a 120 GB external drive, a 500GB external drive and now a 1 TB external drive.
It is all there, in a variety of zips, tarballs, proprietary backup formats, plain-old-copies etc. I could probably - probably - recover stuff off any of them but I'm not relishing the challenge if I have to.
There has to be a better way. I know what I want, but I don't know how to get it. Here is what I want.
I want to stop storing anything important on non-network disk storage. I want to put everything of importance out on a super-intelligent NAS or something.
I want the NAS to capture all file activity in a series of date-stamped folders. I don't want to over-write anything - ever. I want all copies of everything stored in a set of automatically created date-stamped folders.
I want a "time-machine" interface so that I can walk through the folders and instantly see how everything looked on a particular day.
I want my laptop to have a built-in NAS so that I can work away from my network.
I want these super-NAS devices to be cable of synchronization. I want a backup to be a simple matter of transferring date-ranged folders from one NAS to another NAS. When - every two years probably - I buy a new super-NAS that is bigger than all the previous others put together, I want to be able to mothball the previous ones, rolling forward their contents onto the new super-NAS.
I want the storage on these super-NAS's to be non-proprietary. I don't want to have to use anything other than FAT32-aware or ext2-aware operating systems to mount them directly. I want them to run a little web server so that I can interact with them over plain old HTTP.
Is that too much to ask?
I think I know the answer. I would pay for it. I really would. How much? A goodly sum I suspect. I don't want any more plain old terabytes. I have enough of them. I want something more useful than
just storage space.