Archive for May, 2009

Flash Storage: The End Is Near

All good things come to an end … yes, even digital storage capacity. According to a SanDisk executive the countdown is about 5 years when we run out of electrons. Flash storage capacity has doubled 14 times in the last 19 years. However flash storage seems to have a unique problem, one is electrons and the other is age. Eventually the technology used to control the billions of electrons simply breaks down and become less exact. That “1” should have actually been a “0”. Multiply the errors and the data you stored on that little 256GB USB key is suddenly useless.

That’s what R&D is for. Come on crack scientists! Develop a new way to control those feisty electrons or build a better flash storage cell. So is SSD at it’s end or the beginning? Are early adopters regretting their choice in data storage? In my mind flash is still temporary while hard drives are 3 – 5 years, and DVD/CDs are 10 – 15 years. Which reminds me, I should probably start going through those old CDs to see if the data is still good. I guess it’s true, more data, more problems.

Longterm SSD performance in question

Solid state drives in test runs have vastly outperformed traditional hard drives. However new information now shows that SSD performance drops off in the long run. Out of the box, shiny new SSDs blow SATA drives away in read/write speed tests. Previous logic seemed to imply that SSDs did not suffer from the same problems older hard drives do but some of the same problems still exists. Data fragmentation is one of them. Drive performance as more capacity is used. As well as write cycle wear slowing drive performance. Through extended tests SSDs still perform faster than mechanical hard drives and the added power efficiency is a nice bonus if you have a large data center, however the cost vs performance is still debatable. A whole hearted switch to solid state technology is probably not advised at this point as the cost factor still is unattainable for most companies. On a small scale solid state drives are still worth a test drive for the ultra mobile employees. Bottom line: it’s still a wait and see game.

Would This Work On You?

Hmm, seems like a scam that would work on people who aren’t tech savvy. I’m sure there are parts of the world where many office workers simply do not know where their data is stored or how the process of data recovery works. However, in hindsight, wouldn’t it seem odd that the thief would only steal the hard drive and not the entire computer? I mean a hard drive itself is not worth the effort to steal. Clearly a desperate criminal who did not adequately think out the crime.

It all requires a bit of set up. During a regular tech call, make an image of the drive, claim that you are just taking necessary precautions in case something happens during your system clean up. Then go away. Then come back another time (preferably during the cover of darkness) break in, steal small items that are worth money, trash the computer or even steal the computer. Wait a day or 2. Then call them back to schedule the next tech call. Oh, what’s that? You got robbed? Oh, well I can put a new system together for you. I think I still have that copy of your data but I will have to check if I wiped the drive or not. Sure, I can do everything for you and get you back up in running in a few days for … say $$$$$$. Will that be cash or cheque?

Smart criminals don’t make headlines. Only the idiots.

Netbook expectations

Making decision to buy an netbook usually takes less time than buying one. Portable, cheap, SSD hard drive, what’s not to like? Well you should consider a few things. Manage your expectations before you run out and buy one.

Netbook does not equal laptop. One of the most common mistakes people make is that they are getting a complete laptop in a tiny package. Wrong. Netbooks have limitations. For one the processor is slower than what you would get in a regular 15″/17″ laptop. Some applications are just not going to run smoothly on that 1.6Ghz Atom processor.

Storage capacity. 8GB/16GB/32GB SSD is not a whole lot of room to keep all of your stuff. Music, photos, programs, all taking up precious space on that tiny drive. You should only install the essential programs. Keeping a selection of music and photos on a USB/SD card. Yes, a selection, that does not mean your entire library. That is what your iPod is for.

Keyboard. It’s a tiny computer, and hence the keyboard may not be to your liking. It really does take some getting used to. If you plan on typing for 4 hours straight, then maybe you should consider the 10″ netbook or even a 12″ laptop. Big hands and this typing surface do not go together.

Touchpad. It is equally as tiny and takes getting used to. If you primarily navigate using the mouse you are not going to like the amount of concentration required to move the little pointer thingy. You gotta learn keyboard shortcuts, ALT, TAB, FN, Windows key are mashed quite often.

The screen. Again some people are not going to like the tiny screen. Some people might find it hard on the eyes. It’s definitely not designed to be stared at for hours on end.

Far too many people get buyers remorse soon after picking up a netbook. By the same token these the are same buyers who don’t research what they are buying. You just aren’t going to get a fully functional laptop at a $300 price point. Obviously there are going to be some compromises. Just make sure you can live with them.

Imation Shipping SSD upgrade kits

imation_ssdThinking up upgrading that crusty old hard drive? Imation has started shipping M-Class and S-Class Solid State Drives bundled in an upgrade package. Either for 3.5″ and 2.5″ for those on the go with their laptops. In addition to the expected fast performance and energy efficiency the units look pretty slick too. The upgrade kits offer a way to up performance without having to buy a completely new system. If you’re interested check out the Imation site.
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