Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

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Hello.  I'm looking at buying my first external HDD for backup and to
try out Linux distributions.  At the moment I have a small amount of
data and I'm wondering if it's worth while buying 500gb+ when 160gb is
more than enough for the next year or two.  A 640gb drive is about twice
the cost of a 160-200gb one, perhaps not quite twice.

Of course I'll need more space eventually, but by then space will be
cheaper.  Let's say 160gb now will last me for 18 months.  Given Moore's
Law the cost of the big drive might have halved by then.  So can I stay
ahead of the curve by buying just enough?

Of course it'll depend on how fast my storage needs grow, but do you
guys think?  What do you do?

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

On Fri, 06 Feb 2009 05:55:37 +0000, AmbjŲrn Olaf

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The typical replacement interval for a hard drive is longer
than 18 months, therefore I suggest buying 2 x 320GB
externals so you not only have an expectation of enough
space for the viable lifetime of the drives, but with the
2nd 320GB drive, redundancy when one of them fails.

I also recommend not buying 2 of the same external
enclosures, in case one has a bad design that fails
prematurely, the other won't have that failure point

I would not recommend buying "just enough", data tends to
expand to fill whatever storage space you have available.
That's for a typical user, you could be different., but
today hi-res video, ever increasing MP sizes for photos,
etc, mean future data storage needs are larger than present
and past.

At the very least, whatever capacity you choose, I recommend
not having a backup that is only one external drive, at
least have redundancy because external drives tend to be
more failure prone than internal ones due to the addt'l
heat, user or OS failure that corrupts data, or
low-cost/simple PSU many use.

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

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Decide how much you think you might possibly need in the next 18 months,
then double it and buy a drive near to that size!

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

GT wrote:
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... snip ...
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Buy two, and alternate them.  Then a single fouled backup will not
leave you with no backups.

 [mail]: Chuck F (cbfalconer at maineline dot net)
 [page]: <
            Try the download section.

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

On Fri, 06 Feb 2009 05:55:37 +0000, AmbjŲrn Olaf

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Given the average lifespan of external drives, my first criterium
is: warranty ! 2 years is good, 3 years is great (they probably
won't be around much longer anyway), 1 year is simpy inadequate.

Don't save valuable data on just a single external drive.
If (or: when) that drive fails, you'll lose all your data.

If you store data both on your PC and on an external harddisk,
mind Moore: They'll fail concurrently, unless you explicitly plan
them to.

Just my 2 cents :-)

Kind regards,
Gerard Bok

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future. (Gerard Bok) wrote:

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That's my thought: I can buy expecting a short lifespan, only for
backup.  I'll rely on the warranty, and upgrade when I have to.  The
price of storage changes so rapidly, I can easily keep up with a
constant growth in my requirements.  Also, that way I don't invest too
much in a simple interface or storage technology that will go out of

The cheap-o approach to buying a HDD.

I think, I hope redundancy is overkill for a beginning hobbyist like me.

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

AmbjŲrn Olaf wrote:
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Don't listen to me...I thought buying 100 floppy disks was extravagant.
Who'd ever need that much storage...

You can't ask anybody how much storage YOU need.
Sit down and do the math.
How many linux distributions?
How are you gonna run them? Live CD? with some disk storage? full install?
are you gonna back 'em up? how many backups of each are you gonna save?
Are you willing to have a single or three bootable operating systems?
Are you willing to restore a partition every time you want to experiment?

Do you save movies or music or download a bunch of...shall we

Will your system boot from an external USB drive?  Do you have a way
to have multiple bootable partitions on your USB drive?

Are you running any operating systems or program suites that require
activation every time you change something.

How many bootable partitions will your operating systems let
you put on your internal big is it?

A virtual machine is a very easy way to experiment with operating
systems...but it is pretty weak when it comes to hardware support.

You may find that the only thing you can do with the external drive
is store media content and backups.  While you can run programs from
there, there are issues.

About the third time Grub overwrites your boot sector and windows
will no longer boot and you have to call M$ to plead with some guy
in India to let you use your system again,
you'll decide that messing with the OS disk
is not a good idea.

My solution is to use a plug-in drive caddy and a bunch of small
garage sale hard drives.  I can switch from vista to xp to 2k to linux
in the time it takes to boot.  And one never corrupts the other.

Sweet spot for hard drives is about 1TB.  I haven't bought one because
all the vendors had problems with their drives.  Most seem to be fixed by
now, but there's no way to tell if the one you bought online...or in the
store for that matter, is the fixed version.

Re: Can I win with Moore's law? HDDs and the future.

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Good solution.  My computer can boot from Firewire, so my plan is to
clone my had disk and maintain a complete bootable backup: about 20gb.  
My foresight doesn't extend much further than that, a Linux distro, and
backing up my new toy, a portable music player.  All-in-all about 80gb
in the next month.

I'm really looking forward to exploring Linux.  The idea is to prepare
for my next computer, sometime in the next year or two.  It definitely
hadn't occurred to me to worry about different partitions corrupting
each other.  How does that happen?

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