My Fear Of Commodity Storage

By Chris Josephes
January 27, 2009

Despite the Barracuda issues, Seagate is probably one of the better consumer drive vendors out there. I give them credit for offering recovery services to anyone that needs it; although I have the benefit of making that statement without having to wait in line myself. If anyone wants to relate their drive recovery process, feel free to post a comment.

I have misgivings about one terabyte drives for personal use. It's pretty easy for a consumer to get complacent, place their entire life on a single drive, and then watch the drive fail. After that, it's a series of trips to the Geek Squad, or OnTrack; with no guarantee that everything will be set right again. The only viable and easily manageable backup solution for a one terabyte drive for consumers is another one terabyte drive.

I have even more concerns when I see the same practice put in place in the datacenter. The mentality of storage is cheap prevails in many minds. Somebody in IT decides to purchase an off brand disk shelf, populate it with 36 individual one terabyte drives purchased from the vendor with the best price, and then puts all of their critical information on it. The storage solution is implemented with little or no concern regarding long term operations and support.

As time goes by, bad drives are replaced, introducing different firmware levels, or maybe even different manufacturers. And then if you're unlucky, you experience a critical failure across multiple drives. Now what? Your central storage crapped out, which leads to application failures?

You could contact the 2 or 3 drive vendors, the RAID card manufacturer, or the OS vendor. Whether or not they'll work together depends on whether your configuration is certified, and what your guaranteed level of support is. On top of that, they will all need to be brought up to speed on your disk layout plan, and all of your system logs.

Or, you could bite the bullet, spend your investment capital wisely, and purchase your equipment from an enterprise storage vendor. They can at least provide a guarantee of supporting the equipment they provide. On top of that, they will have invested engineering man-hours to make sure the components they choose will integrate into their solutions.

Isn't the safety of your data worth that investment?

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