Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2012 - 04:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: dropbox, storage, free storage, google, google drive
Users of online storage have been spoiled by services like Dropbox, Spider Oak, and Box.com who offer up gobs of free storage space. Before they became prevalent, there was Gmail and rumors of a Google Drive. This Google Drive never really materialized beyond user workarounds to upload files using a program that stored them in Google’s Email service’s approximate 9 GB of space.
Finally, after years of other services entrenching themselves in the market, it seems like Google may be jumping in. If rumors are true, the new online storage service will launch in the middle of next week at the drive.google.com URL. The Google Drive will reportedly offer 5GB of free storage space as well as paid tiers for increased storage levels (pricing unknown). Further, users will be able to access the files via the website and using applications. So far, rumors are pointing to a Windows and Mac OSX application, though it would not be surprising to see an Android app in the future.
I’m excited to see this service finally launch and what Google’s take on online storage will be. My only concern is whether they are jumping into the game at a time when it is too little too late. Sure, everyone and their grandmother likely have at least one Google/Gmail account but many of those people also have Dropbox accounts. The free services that were not really around when the first hints of a Google Drive emerged have not blossomed and dug their roots into the market. Even Apple and Microsoft have beat Google to the punch with cloud storage, so it is going to be an uphill battle for Google requiring something unique in order for it to catch on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to be checking it out, but I believe they are really going to have to knock this out of the park on the first try in order to succeed. Will you be checking it out, and when (if?) you do please report back and let us know what you think of it. How do you think the other free and paid storage services will react to Google entering the market?
Image courtesy pmsyyz via Flickr Creative Commons
Subject: Storage | March 20, 2012 - 01:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, Seagate, hard drives, HAMR, density, 1 Tb/in^2
In April 2006 Seagate began shipping the first 3.5" desktop hard drive using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology and since then PMR has become essential in allowing all of the hard drive manufacturers to create the 2 TB+ drives available today. As we approach the limits of what drive manufacturers are able to do using PMR alone; however, they are starting to look at additional technologies to boost the storage density. One such technology on the horizon is Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording, or HAMR. According to a recent press release, Seagate is not only experimenting with HAMR but is the first drive manufacturer to use HAMR to reach 1 Terabit per square in of areal density.
HAMR works by using a laser to heat up the storage medium before the compounds used to store data have their orientation aligned by the write heads of the drive. As bits get smaller and smaller, traditional magnetic recording methods are not strong enough to permanently change the magnetic orientation of the bits, which means that there is an inherent, if theoretical, minimum bit size and corresponding maximum storage density possible with current Perpendicular Magnetic Recording. HAMR further allows drive makers to get around that limitation by heating the physical bits to the point that traditional magnetic write heads can change the orientation.
Via Bit-Tech. The laser heats up the platter before being written to.
The current 1 Terabit per square inch achieved using HAMR is also the theoretical maximum storage density for PMR alone (as mentioned above), which is promising as it implies HAMR still has a lot of working room to improve and has matched the maximum proposed for PMR.
Seagate expects to use HAMR to produce 60 TB+ 3.5" and 20 TB+ 2.5" hard drives within the next ten years. To put this areal density in perspective, current 3 TB desktop drives feature approximately 620 Gigabits per square inch while current 750 GB laptop (2.5") drives feature about 500 Gigabits per square inch. Interestingly, when comparing the 1 Tb/in^2 mechanical drive density to flash (ie SSD) storage at equivalent densities, it works out such that a single bit equals 1nm of flash storage!
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing 60 TB drives any time soon. Rather, Seagate expects 6 TB desktop drives and 2 TB laptop drives to be the most immediate benefits of the heat assisted recording technology. Still, as my 2 TB drive is filling up more quickly than I ever imagined (thanks to working with HD video and making regular backups of data), I welcome as much increased storage as I can get!
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 02:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, media, Internet, free, cloud, box, backup
The online storage space is really starting to heat up as companies start getting competitive to grab their share of the 'cloud storage user base' pie. Dropbox is a popular file syncing and online storage space solution offering 2GB free and routinely offering extra free space to those that want it though promotions and referrals. On the other side of things, Microsoft offers 25GB of online storage space with SkyDrive minus the computer syncing (currently) for free to those with a Windows Live (or Hotmail) account and they are in the process of overhauling the service to make it easier to use. Besides those two juggernauts, there are several alternative solutions that offer extra space or cheaper paid storage in order to remain competitive with the larger services. One such service that has not gotten the same amount of public recognition is a site called Box.com. They primarily provide Internet based (paid) storage for businesses; however, it seems that they are starting to make a big push to get deeper into the consumer market.
The company is currently offering 50 GB (yes, you read that right) of free online storage space for life (or at least the life of the company) if you install their recently updated Android application and sign up for an account (or sign into an existing account) within the next 30 days (as of writing, that would mean 3/24/2012).
Further, if you download the Android Box application before March 23, 2012 at 11:59 they will up the individual file size limit from 25 MB per file to 100 mb per file. Although that is still not big enough for movies, the increased per file limit makes it easy to backup your photos even in RAW.
Once you download the Box android application from the Android Market, and sign up (or sign into an existing account) a message will pop up indicating that you have been given 50 GB of free storage and it is immediately accessible. There are a few caveats; however. The Box.com service has mobile applications that are free; however, they do not provide a free application for Windows or Mac. To get the desktop/laptop syncing service, you will need to upgrade to a paid Business or Enterprise account. Also, the Android application itself may concern some users as one of the application permissions during installation includes access to your contact list. The company has stated that this is necessary to make the sharing and collaboration process easy for the user. It certainly would not be the first application to ask for (to the user) strange permissions, however. You could always install the app on an Android VM or another phone if you're that paranoid (heh).
While you do not get a desktop application for free, you can still access your files (and the increased 50 GB of storage) from the website, and they do allow bulk uploads that can include multiple sub-folders. One snag that I ran into was that if the uploader identified any file in a folder as being over 100 MB, it would refuse to upload the entire folder. This may be a bug or an issue on my end; however, I was not able to figure out a way to just skip that one file and upload the rest of the files in the folder.
The batch uploader allows uploading multiple subfolders via drag and drop.
One thing that I enjoyed about the process (aside from the plentiful storage) was that they made it easy to sign up, all they ask for is an email (which doesn't need to be verified to get access to storage) and password. It's kind of nice to not have to slog through the process of handing out a bunch of personal information just for an online account!
I'm currently uploading my photos to the site to back them up (I learned two years ago that it can never hurt to have too many backups!) and the upload is going smoothly. The website batch uploader is Flash based and does not require IE like SkyDrive does, so that's a positive thing in my book. Let us know in the comments if you've tried Box out before, and how you're going to use the 50 GB of cloud storage. It really seems like the cloud / Internet based storage market is heating up, and this is a good thing for end users as it means more options, more innovation, and cheaper prices! If Box.com isn't for you, Dropbox and SkyDrive are also offering plenty of free storage space.
Microsoft Allegedly Overhauling SkyDrive With Increased Paid Storage, Applications, and Other Goodies
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 11:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, skydrive, paid storage, free, cloud backup, bitlocker, app integration
Update: Some of the rumors have been confirmed by Microsoft in a blog post, though the individual file size increase was a bit off. Microsoft will be allowing files up to 2 GB in size as compared to the rumored 300 MB file sizes.
Every so often, I run across a rumor that sounds almost too good to be true. On the other hand, it sounds so good that I just can't stop myself from being excited about it. Over the weekend, I saw an article that talked about Windows Live Skydrive offering paid storage tiers and I now really want this to come to fruition.
For those curious, SkyDrive is Microsoft's "cloud storage" service that gives users 25 GB of free storage space to hold files. There are some restrictions with the individual file size (that can be worked around if you really want to backup a home movie for example), but otherwise it is a boatload of space for free and saved my butt when the, um, "formatting catastrophe" of 2010 happened by having most of my digital photos backed up!
SkyDrive as it is now, funny old photos and all!
The service is connected to your Microsoft Live or hotmail account and can be accessed by navigating to skydrive.live.com. There are some usability issues with the service; however, including the fact that it's a pain in the rear to upload more than one or two files. The website doesn't make it easy to batch upload, say, a folder or folders only a file at a time. Further, it is not nearly as easy to manage those files once they are in the SkyDrive as it should be. Now, if you use IE, the SkyDrive website will allow you to upload multiple files easier; however, the other browsers are left without a way to do it. There is also the aforementioned individual file size limit of 100 MB per file.
The exciting bit about the rumors and (allegedly) leaked screen shots is that if they stay true the service is about to get a whole lot better by offering cheap storage and fixing many of the issues people have had with the service.
The leaked image
On the storage front, Microsoft is allegedly adding new paid storage tiers and increasing the individual file size limit to 300 MB (from 100 MB). Among the new plans are 20 GB, 50 GB, and 100 GB offerings (which is in addition to the free 25 GB of space) for $10, $25, and $50 a year respectively. Not a bad price at all in my opinion! Assuming the pricing is accurate, they are vastly undercutting the competition. Dropbox, for example, is currently offering 50 GB for $99 a year and 100 GB for $199 per year. Granted, Dropbox has syncing functionality, no individual file size limit, and is a much easier to use service with an established user base, but at these prices the Microsoft offering is likely to win over many people who just want some cheap off site backup space!
|Paid Storage Space||SkyDrive (Price Per Year)||Dropbox (Price Per Year)|
Dropbox pricing just for comparision.
While there are currently mobile applications for Windows Phone and Apple iOS smart phones, users must turn to third party explorer extensions (like SDExplorer) for Windows OS integration on the desktop. More leaked images seem to suggest that Microsoft will be launching applications for Windows and Mac operating systems to better integrate SkyDrive into the OS (and hopefully enable easier cloud file management). SDExplorer is a third party extension that I used to upload all my photos to SkyDrive and it allows mounting the SkyDrive account as a "hard drive" under Windows Explorer. Unfortunately, it costs money to get the full feature set, so hopefully Microsoft can provide similar (or more) features for free with their OS.
In addition, Microsoft will allegedly be adding URL shortening for public and shared SkyDrive file links as well as the ability to share files to Twitter and Facebook from within the SkyDrive website. For the latter, there are already APIs and Microsoft is likely just leveraging them to make sharing files a bit more convenient. On the other hand, Microsoft will be using their own URL shortening service via the sdrv.ms domain instead of integrating with an existing service.
As a user of Libre Office (the fork off of what was once Open Office), I deal a lot with .odt files, which is the open document standard. For users of Microsoft's web application of Office, they have been forced to save files to the Microsoft standards; however, rumors suggest that the service will soon support creating and saving to the .odt, .odp, and .ods document formats. If you are using Office Web Apps, then you are already likely fairly integrated into the Office universe, and this feature won't mean much. On the other hand, this will help out others who may need to edit one of the Libre Office created documents backed up to their SkyDrive on the go. Better compatibility is always a step in the right direction for MS after all.
Last up on the rumor pile for SkyDrive is the ability to store BitLocker recovery keys directly to SkyDrive so that you have a backup should you ever forget your encryption password. The flip side of that convenience feature is that it provides another attack vector should someone attempt to get their hands on your encryption keys, and it is a location that you must depend on someone else to keep secure. As weird as it may sound, you might want to encrypt your encryption key before uploading it to any "cloud" service (heh), just in case. Still, it's good to have options.
Needless to say, there was quite the leak this weekend over Microsoft SkyDrive features! It is a lot to take in, but in my opinion it sounds like they are really giving the service special attention it needs to get it into fighting form. And if the rumors hold true it will be much more comptetitive with other cloud storage backup options as a result of the overhaul. I'm excited about this, obviously, but what about you? Do you use SkyDrive?
Subject: Storage | January 7, 2012 - 11:29 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: victorinox, 1TB, storage, flash drive, CES, pocket knife
I was over at HardOCP today and saw something awesome: a pocket knife with 1 TB of storage! Victorinox is going to launch two new styles of pocket knife flash drives, and will be showing them off next week at CES. Both drives have up to 1TB of flash storage, a pocket knife like case, a USB / eSATA connection, and a monochromatic LCD screen to display information about the drive.
Everyone knows your storage runs faster with the knife equipped!
The drives come in two colors, black or red. The red flash drive also doubles as a pocket knife by including a knife and a pair of scissors. The black drive is TSA friendly and is only the flash drive itself in the case. All I know is that it may be time for me to upgrade from my aging 4GB PNY flash drive as this looks cool. On the other hand, they are only USB 2.0, and just thinking about how long it would take to transfer 1TB of data to this thing makes my head hurt.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news!
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 5, 2012 - 08:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, velocity micro, usb, storage, projector, peripheral, CES 2012
Velocity Micro, a boutique PC builder just couldn't wait until CES 2012 to show off some of their new products it seems, as a recent web page with some punchy font seeks to get consumers excited about their new tablets, projector, and USB optical/external hard drive combination.
First off, Velocity Micro plans to debut two Android tablets dubbed the Cruz Tablet T507 and T510. Both tablets run the Android 4.0 mobile operating system, and are powered by Cortex A8 processors running at 1.2 GHz. Further, the tablets feature ARM Mali GPUs at 400 MHz, 8 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM, HDMI out, a front facing camera, flash support, and access to the Amazon Appstore. The differences between the T507 and T510 tablets lie in the screen size and lack of rear camera on the T510. The T507 tablet has a 7" capacitive touch screen and has an MSRP of $150 (according to Engadget) while the T510 has a 9.7" capacitive touch screen.
Next up is an external USB hard drive that also features an optical drive and USB hub. Dubbed the VMUltra Drive, the all in one external drive has a DVD-R/RW optical drive, 500 GB 2.5" SATA Hard Drive, SD Card Reader, and 3 USB 2.0 Ports. Pretty nifty, and if the price is right I may be interested in this myself for my work laptop that lacks optical drive and is running low on storage space (heh).
Lastly, Velocity Micro is going to debut the Shine Projector. Supporting an "HD" resolution of 1280x768 pixels, the Shine weighs in at 9 ounces. It features a 300 Lumens (160 ANSI Lumens) brightness, 2,000:1 contrast ratio, a one year warranty, and a mini-HDMI input. Also, it's a glossy Ferrari red, sporty.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more
CES Pre-CES coverage!
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Podcast #179 - Sandy Bridge-E Review, X79 Motherboards, a new NAS device from Western Digital, Aquarium PCs and more!
Subject: Editorial | November 17, 2011 - 04:17 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x79, western digital, storage, sandy bridge-e, podcast, nvidia, NAS, Intel, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #179 - 11/17/2011
Join us this week as we talk about our Sandy Bridge-E Review, X79 Motherboards, a new NAS device from Western Digital, Aquarium PCs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
- 0:00:24 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:00 Intel Sandy Bridge-E Review - Core i7-3960X and X79 Chipset Tested
- 0:27:45 X79 Motherboard Roundup Video Preview
- 0:28:53 Alienware M17x (R3) Gaming Notebook Review: It Glows!
- 0:30:25 Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W Power Supply Review
- 0:31:20 NVIDIA Reports Q3 2012 Results
- 0:39:15 Western Digital launches Sentinel Series of NAS devices, bringing enterprise features to the small business.
- 0:46:20 The mineral oil in this Aquarium will be hard on the fish but not your components
- 0:53:45 Antec Announces P280 Enclosure
- 0:54:50 Win a Free Copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from PC Perspective
- You missed it, but Jared H. didn't!
- 0:56:15 Bulldozers at Knights Corner; duelling server chips
- 0:59:45 More Free Stuff Friday: XFX Radeon HD 6870 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- 1:00:12 The Intel 32 in 32 Challenge on Facebook
- 1:01:22 Free Stuff Wednesday: Gigabyte G1 Assassin X58 Motherboard Giveaway!!
- 1:02:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
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Corsair today released three new solid state drives (SSDs) that deliver both speedy performance and high capacity. The new models include two new Force 3 SSDs at 180 GB and 480 GB and one new Force GT SSD at 480 GB. All of the new models are powered by the SandForce 2280 controller and utilize the SATA 3 (6GB/s) storage interface. All models will include a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter for use in desktops, and are backward compatible with older SATA specifications.
The Corsair Force GT being the faster lineup of drives now has a 480 GB Force GT SSD that is capable of 555 MB/s read speeds and write speeds of 525 MB/s. Further, the drive uses ONFI synchronous flash memory and achieves 85K random write IOPS (input/output operations per second).
Although Corsair already has 120 GB and 240 GB models of solid state drives, the lineup now has a 180 GB SSD (to match the 180 GB capacity of the Force GT line) and a 480 GB drive. These two new SSDs use the same asynchronous flash that the other SSDs in Corsair’s Force 3 lineup utilizes as well as the same SandForce 2280 controller. In being compatible with SATA 3 (6GB/s) interface, the drives are able to pump out 85K random write IOPS, 550 MB/s read speeds, and 520 MB/s write speeds. This puts them slightly below the Force GT series, but still delivering respectable performance.
The new solid state drives are available now from authorized distributors and retailers worldwide. The Force 3 SSDs carry an MSRP of $249 USD for the 180GB version and $799 USD for the 480GB SSD. Finally, the 480GB Force GT has an MSRP of $999 USD. Remember to check out our SSD Decoder for help in picking out your solid state drives!
Subject: Storage | August 31, 2011 - 12:27 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, storage, corsair, sandforce, SATA3
Today Corsair announced two new high capacity SSDs that have joined the company’s Force GT solid state drive lineup. The new drives come in 180 GB and 240GB flavors, a nice increase from the current 60 GB and 120 GB drives.
The new Force GT SSDs utilize the SATA 3 (6Gbps) interface, and are powered by the SandForce SF-2280 controller. In addition, the drives are powered by ONFI synchronous flash memory. The hardware results in random IOPS of 85K, read speeds of 555 MB/s, and write speeds of 525 MB/s. Thi La, the VP of Memory Products for Corsair stated the new 180 GB and 240 GB SSDs are best suited for enthusiasts systems that require large amounts of high performance storage.
The Force GT drives will come with a 3.5” adapter for cases that do not have 2.5” drive bays. The SSDs are available for purchase now, and carry an MSRP of $379 USD for the 180 GB model and $489 USD for the 240 GB SSD.
IBM knows how to go big or go home, and their Almaden, California research lab’s current storage project exemplifies that quite nicely. With a data repository that dwarfs anything we have today, IBM is designing a 120 Petabyte storage container. Comprised of 200,000 hard drives, the new storage device is expected to house approximately 1 trillion files or 24 billion 5MB MP3 files. To put that in perspective, Apple has sold 10 billion songs as of February 24, 2010; therefore, you could store every song sold since the Itunes Store’s inception twice and still have room for more!
More specifically, the Almaden engineers have designed new hardware and software techniques to combine all 200,000 hard drives into horizontal drawers that are then all placed into rack mounts. In order to properly cool the drives, IBM had to make the drawers “significantly wider than usual” to cram as many disks as possible into a vertical rack in addition to cooling the disks with circulating water. On the software side of things, IBM has refined their disk parity and mirroring algorithms such that a computer can continue working at near-full speed in the event a drive fails. If a single disk fails, the system begins to pull data from other drives that held copies of the data to write to the replacement disk, allowing the supercomputer to keep processing data. The algorithms control the speed of data rebuilding, and are able to adapt in the event multiple drives begin failing.
In addition to physically spreading data across the drives, IBM is also using a new file system to keep track of all the files across the array. Known as the General Parallel File System (GPFS), it stripes files across multiple disks so that many parts of a files can be written to and read from simultaneously, resulting in massive speed increasing when reading. In addition, the file system uses a new method of indexing that enables it to keep track of billions of files without needing to scan through every one. GPFS has already blown past the previous indexing record of one billion files in three hours with an impressive indexing of 10 billion files in 43 minutes.
The director of storage research for IBM, Bruce Hillsberg stated to Technology Review that the results of their algorithms enables a storage system that should not lose any data for a million years without compromising performance. Hillsberg further indicated that while this 120 Petabyte storage array was on the “lunatic fringe” today, storage is becoming more and more important for cloud computing, and just keeping track of the file names, type, and attributes will use approximately 2 Terabytes of storage.
The array is currently being built for a yet-to-be-announced client, and will likely be used for High Performance Computing (HPC) projects to store massive amounts of modeling and simulation data. Project that could benefit from increased storage include global weather patterns, seismic graphing, Lard Hadron Collider (LHC), and molecular data simulations
Storage research has an amazing pacing, and seems to constantly advance despite pesky details like heat, fault tolerance, aerial density walls, and storage mediums. While this 120 Petabyte array comprised of 200,000 hard drives is out of reach for just about everyone without federal funding or a Fortune 500 company's expense account, the technology itself is definitely interesting and will trickle down advancements to the consumer drives.
Image Copyright comedy_nose via Flickr Creative Commons