Free Data Storage Solutions

Many data storage systems are available today, with great variety in type and cost. Storing information is becoming increasingly important, both for business and personal use. As in the times mentioned in Daniel 12:4, ...many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. The amount of files needed to store and transmit this information is steadily growing. Access to the database is important in nearly every aspect of a business. Therefore it is important that this information be securely stored and that the files are available when they are needed. Secure storage and reliability also need to be balanced by the cost of the system. Some free data storage solutions are available. However, most of these are offered as introductory incentives with the hope of later retaining the user as a regular paying customer.

Several of the free data storage solutions seem to be more for personal use rather than for use as corporate data storage systems. Generally a specific amount of space is offered, for whatever database a customer wishes to preserve. A popular use for these systems is the storage of digital photographs. Be cautious, however, as to entrusting photographs or other personal information to sites whose reputation is unknown. Even if these sites are reputable, perhaps it is best to use it as a redundant site rather than the main repository of important information. Some free data storage solutions offer additional space for a minimal cost.

If a corporation is looking for a storage solution, those responsible should consider several things. The protection of the database is of primary importance. However, one also needs to consider ways to reduce downtime and lower the costs of meeting a company's storage needs. In addition, maintaining the systems should not be impossibly complex or time-consuming. Finally, a system should be able to be adjusted to deal with increased future requirements.

People who configure systems try to avoid having any part of the data storage systems subject to a bottleneck where a failure of one part leads to the shutdown of the whole system or prevents one from accessing certain information until the problem is resolved. They use hardware which can be exchanged while the computer is running, without loss of data. Another safeguard is the use of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Independent Disks) systems. In this system, multiple disk drives are combined into an array which provides performance which is better than any of the individual drives. The RAID system comes in a variety of configurations, both hardware and software. As long as they have redundancy, both types can use hot spare drives. These drives are physically installed in the array, but are not used unless an active drive fails. The spare replaces the failed drive and the array is rebuilt including it in the system. This can help reduce downtime needed for repairs. One fault in this system is that since all the drives are being used fairly evenly, when one fails, another may be likely to follow soon afterwards. If a second drive fails before the system has rebuilt using the spare, items can be lost. A RAID 6 configuration can protect a database during the failure of two disks, but it requires the use of a more advanced RAID controller.

Some data storage systems provide a snapshot -- a copy of a volume of information at a precise point in time -- which can be used for backup. It is also useful for testing various systems and noting performance after particular improvements have been made or hardware has been substituted. For even greater security against data loss, remote mirroring technology can be used. Under this system, volumes of information can be copied to separate arrays which are located in a variety of places. Thus, the mirrored items are safe even if the first repository is damaged.

After being reasonably sure that crucial information is secure, an administrator may be concerned about minimizing downtime (the time the system is unavailable due to reconfiguring or repair). Some companies provide systems which use automated load balancing. Even if arrays are added, or removed for repair, the company provides servers and applications which allow continuous access to the data. The data is automatically redistributed to available hardware. This allows greater performance and a minimum of disruption to the users. The virtualizing aspects of this system lessens the burden on staff people, for they no longer have to spend time installing, configuring, balancing and providing security for arrays. Nor do they have to create or map volumes of data. In this way, managing data storage systems requires less time, effort or knowledge from available technology staff.

An iSCSI (Internet Small Computer Systems Interface) system is one which allows customers to send commands to devices on remote servers. The iSCSI system is a popular Storage Area Network (SAN). These systems provide high performance, yet lower costs. Ethernet switches and adaptors are much less costly than those of fibre channel networking cards, switches and bridges. Be careful not to go overboard on purchasing arrays when choosing a networked system. Otherwise, money is being spent for capacity which is not yet needed. If a system is chosen which is modular and has automated load balancing, costs are kept in check because the company can buy only what is needed at the time. However, it is easy to expand and add more arrays when they are actually needed. Another benefit is that iSCSI can be run using existing networks, unlike fibre channel systems, which need special cables. Although these are not free data storage solutions, considering security, reliability and availability of data, the money which is required to implement this system is well spent.

Online Backup Service

Finding a quality online data backup service can be a life saver for the computer owner who is highly dependant on the records and information stored on the home or business computer. While there are a number of options available that efficiently protect this vital data, those who would prefer a no fuss approach to this dilemma might find online data storage backup beneficial. These services generally charge a flat monthly fee to store information online in case of a hard drive crash or the loss of a computer because of theft, damage, or virus attack. Other services charge by the number of gigabytes stored. One of the benefits of this approach to computer records storage is that, unlike with some external storage devices that require user updates, any changes or updates to stored material are frequently done automatically. Another benefit is that, since the information is stored online, it can be accessed when the user is away from the home computer.

When searching for an online data backup service there are a number of things that a buyer should consider. The individual should ask if this software is both easy to install and compatible to their computer. Some services offer automatic backup, while others only back up the files when asked to do so by the consumer. Does the service offer encryption for extra protection? Encryption prevents the wrong user from accidentally gaining access to another person's information. Whatever the features offered, these services usually require additional software downloads. Many users find that the convenience of having more than one version of their files preserved is an important feature. Another important question the consumer should ask is e-mail also supported, or is this an area that is ignored? Can more than one computer take advantage of the service or is there an extra charge? If there is an interruption in internet connection while back up is taking place, has the service made allowances for that possibility? Does the online data storage backup service automatically delete files that it assumes are no longer used, paving the way for human error and the deleting of a wrong file? Can data be accessed when the consumer is away from their home computer? Is the rate plan fair and easy to understand?

By automatically updating information every time a change in a file occurs, an online data storage backup will simplify the process of preserving vital computer information. The consumer can take a passive role, knowing that vital records, facts and figures, correspondence, or other media are constantly under protection. Another benefit of an online data backing service is that files can be shared with other users on other computers any time that the original user gives permission and shares a password. Many services offer the availability of older versions of saved files, and can even restore deleted files to the consumer's hard drive. The cost for these services usually come in the form of a monthly fee, but can also be assessed according to the amount of gigabytes in storage. The Bible frequently mentions the things that God stores for the righteous in heaven. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)

The cost of an online data backup service can vary depending on the amount of information that is being stored as well as the special services that an individual consumer might require. The average price for the individual can range from just a few dollars a month to a few hundred dollars a year. For the small or large business owner, the cost is understandably higher and ranges from a few hundred dollars a year to a few thousand dollars per year. But when the cost of lost information and or business activity that can occur because of the loss or unavailability of crucial files is factored in, these services might be seen as a relatively inexpensive form of insurance. Generally, any type of internet connection can work with these services including cable, DSL, ISDN, LAN, high speed or dial up modem. Along with an internet connection, a certain amount of free space on the consumer's computer is needed for these services and this can vary depending on the software required.

Many of these services offer a free trial period so that a consumer can know for sure if an online data backup service is for them. The installation process is relatively simple and usually involves accepting a licensing agreement and downloading the needed software. After completing the registration and software download processes, the user will generally be presented with a variety of options including which files they would like to select for back up such as text documents, financial records, digital photographs and media, or databases. Files that should not be selected generally include temporary files, operating system files, scan disk error files, application, or program files. Many of these services also offer a back up scheduler that helps the user decide how often crucial information should be preserved. Other providers of online data storage backup automatically update information and don't require the consumer to do the scheduling. Another feature that would appeal to the home computer owner who enjoys digital photography and media is the ability to easily share files with family and friends. By simply sharing a protected password link, the user can make web photo albums available without going through a third party web site.

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