Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The 1 terabyte hard drive that I ordered last week arrived today. I'm still amazed at how cheap hard drives are today. The first hard drive I bought was a 20 megabyte drive that I attached to my Radio Shack Color Computer. I believe it was over a thousand dollars at the time. Before then I'd managed with ever larger banks of floppy drives. Getting a combined storage of one megabyte from all that whirling plastic on my home brew S-100 computer in its six-foot tall metal rack was a mental breakthrough itself.

At work, we began to experiment with storage servers which had banks of hard drives with redundant power supplies. The combined storage was parceled out to the various users to supplement the limited space on the desk top computers. I can remember when that server finally reached the one terabyte milestone. I couldn't imagine how much storage that was.

How times change. Mary Ann has about ten hard drives for her photo storage with a combined capacity of four terabytes. That doesn't count the multi-volume set of DVD folders she uses for archive, which is probably more than twice that total capacity. She's surpassed my storage needs by quite a bit.

My total life's work of fiction, with supporting research notes is handily contained in under 500 megabytes. My personal files on my laptop, excluding applications and video files, half fills my laptop's 100 MB drive.

But it's the video that prompted me to buy the 1TB drive. Over 300 movies, a few purchased from iTunes, but the bulk captured with EyeTV, make up about 300 gigabytes of storage. On the TV Shows branch are 37 different shows with hundreds of episodes, with a combined capacity of about 350 GB. I had been storing them on two twin 500 GB drives, but while they are certainly nice drives and not filled, they have a fatal design flaw for my usage. Each time they are powered down, you have to manually push the power button on each drive to turn it on.

On this last RV trip, this meant that every time I parked the RV, or every time I turned off the electricity to conserve battery life overnight, I had to reach up into the cabinet and turn them back on again. Enough of that!

So I purchased the LaCie Big Disk, which remembers that it's supposed to be on, even when I cycle the power. For the past few hours, iTunes has been 'Consolidating' the video library from the two original drives onto the new one. The 500 GB drives will work nicely for Mary Ann for her next marathon photo shoot, and maybe by the time I fill up this new storage, hard drives will be twice the size for half the cost. That's the way to bet.


Chris said...

You had an S-100 computer? Nice!

Terabyte drive. New guys don't know how good they have it. I think my first HD was 5MB and I was very happy to have it.

I am thinking of building a video server myself. I think this is an area in need of better solutions.

Henry Melton said...

My video library has an added complication. Several times a year I have to pick up and go in the RV. My library has to come with me. Now that I've committed to storing everything in the iTunes structure, I have the choice of unplugging everything and moving it back and forth between the house and the RV, or just moving the data.

I have purchased a second Mac Mini with this in mind. If I can do it right, all I'll have to unplug is the hard drive itself, leaving cables, power supplies and everything in place.

My eventual solution is to leave the drive in the RV and with a fast enough network, just mount the volume over the network for house use. Lots of possibilities there.