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The Family NAS

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 27 September 2010

Housewide Storage -- Better Safe than Sorry But…

“A friend of mine tried one their "special offers", nearly got himself lobotomized.”Harry (Total Recall, 1990 – Tristar Pictures)

Another Trip to the Store – The more digital content that’s out there, the more devices the family has, the more storage that is required.  You can never have too much storage, but buying storage unit after storage unit is never easy.
Source – Tristar Pictures

First, UC San Diego reports 34GB of data, content is hammering our eyes/brain…every day.

Then, IDC says that in a few years, the average home will be storing 12+TB of stuff.

Since we have a “normal” household, we got a little worried.

We have the usual assortment of desktop, notebook, netbook computers around the house –pretty typical of most Silicon Valley homes.  Oh yeah, there’s the full spectrum of game systems because, well…because.

And the kids can’t go anywhere without their music buds plugged in.

Then there are the obligatory cameras – pocket, point-n-shoot, DSLR – lying around.

Yes, and  the smartphones everyone has to have to survive!

Can’t forget the DVR.  We time-shift shows just in case we ever get some serious downtime

Gobbling Up Storage
All of them use flash memory and hard drives, and capacity disappears the minute they are turned on/connected.

In the old days, we were continually buying batteries.  Today, it’s more storage.

Content Devices – No matter what the work or entertainment device is in the household, they all have something in common.   They all have storage capacity and the ability to upload, download more content to “somewhere.”  Source – Coughlin Assoc.

We pulled together and counted all of the thingies that could store stuff. The wife looked at me, shook her head and repeated Lori’s lines, “My poor baby, this is getting to be an obsession.”

The statement didn’t help Quaid in Total Recall .   Didn’t do much for me either.

Can’t be certain when the family’s storage requirements came into full bloom.  Probably started when we got broadband to the house.


Bigger Pipes – Content providers want to deliver more and better stuff to consumers.  Consumers want to enjoy more and better stuff.  The bigger the pipes to the home, the better the quality of enjoyment.  When you don’t have time to enjoy it all…store it!

With broadband, the kids were able to grab content from every video-ready site. They quickly found their favorite TV shows and oldies but goodies on the Net.

The ball started rolling.

IDC and Park Associates seem to indicate that the giant sucking noise picked up speed when we began  receiving high-def content and using HD devices.

High-Def Sharing – Broadband, multiple computers, time-shifting devices and more can mean a better entertainment experience for everyone in the family.  All we need now is time to actually sit down and enjoy it.  Source – IDC, Parks Assoc, Seagate

The more content is out there, the more people want!

That’s probably why Cisco decided to start offering more bandwidth and home networking solutions.

Content Flows
Chambers probably knew Schmidt was planning to goose-p content traffic. He opened up the IP fire hydrant and folks just can’t seem get enough of the video content.

We Want It…All – The Internet has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to show his or her content in the hopes of becoming famous--and maybe even rich.  It really has taken away the leverage of the gatekeepers.  And people want the variety.  They want it ALL!!! Source – Warner Bros.

Chambers says we’ll see a 5x increase in consumer video traffic between now and 2013!

That may sound good; but just remember, you’ll end up storing most of that stuff.

IDC says an increase of 5x in IP traffic will multiply content storage by at least 10x.

That’s a ton of storage.

More Content, More Storage – When we read that a thousand minutes of video are uploaded every hour to YouTube and Facebook, we wonder who’s working.  But it doesn’t seem to bother people in our household, they just keep creating, keep grabbing, keep duplicating their content because…well because they can!
Source – Coughlin Assoc.

If you really stored all that stuff at home, Richter might be right, “In an hour, he could have total recall.”

Ah…the Cloud
Dave Reinsel, one of IDC’s heavyweights, offered his two cents and said the cloud was going to be the expandable storage solution for families (and business) in the coming years.

-        Its affordable bandwidth, shared/scalable capacity means you don’t waste drive capacity (green, minimizing your carbon footprint) and you’re only paying for storage you use
-        it is pretty easy, pretty fast to recover lost data sets
-        it is accessible – you can connect and upload/download from any Internet connection
-        most of them – Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, HP, others – are reputable and use state-of-the-art backup, compression, encryption, data duplication, virtualization

De-duplication doesn’t sound too important at home; but it is, because often everyone in the house has a copy of a photo, video, music or Web download.

That’s a waste!

Experts estimate that data de-duplication could reduce the amount of capacity you use by 40-60 percent.  That means saving power, drive space, money.

Compression can be useful because it not only saves expensive drive space, it also means it’s easier to send the file to someone.  It can be:
-        Lossy compression, which “rounds off” less important information when compressing or encoding.  This may be okay for JPG images, large document files and gives you higher compression ratios.
-        Lossless compression allows you to return the files to their original, but the compression ratio is reduced

The problem is, compression just doesn’t work too well on photos, video and that’s what we – and most folks – have on the devices/HDs.

Great, But… Content compression is a fantastic way to significantly reduce the content you’re storing on your hard drive.  The problem is, it doesn’t work well on photos, videos, music, stuff you need to have complete.  De-duplication would help, but no one has figured out how to de-duplicate across all the devices in the house.
Source – Parks Assoc.

Reinsel is a nice guy and smart; but boy, would we love to play poker with him!

When we said, “What about all the bad stuff about clouds?”, he sorta’ scuffed his toe in the carpet.

Thought he was going to pull a Quaid on us…“I don't remember you. I don't remember us. I don't even remember me.”

But he didn’t.

Cloud Downsides
Instead, he pointed out some of the issues that do arise:
-        Some of the new “bargain” services are thinly financed and could disappear along with your data
-        SLAs (service-level agreements) are still a work in progress and vary widely from one provider to another
-        Other cloud-based apps like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook have had security issues and there’s no reason to believe the storage clouds won’t be attacked just as vigorously.  Big targets attract big thieves.
-        The storage cloud is run by people and they can mishandle, lose your data just as easily as you can
-        If a subpoena gets served, BAM!!! they’re turning over all the drives in that area

He probably could have said more, but he just repeated Lori, “No wonder you're having nightmares. You're always watching the news.”

NAS Solution
The best solution for our house seemed to be a NAS (network-attached storage).
How difficult could it be?

Gotta’ be simpler than the home network we set up last year connecting our computers, printer, stereo, router plus a roadmap to do more.

Ahh, Simplicity – The industry still falls short when it comes to simplifying the task of setting up a home everything network so you can share, enjoy your content, your work with others.  Works fine as long as you stick with one home solution manufacturer, but that’s not going to happen.

Only took a couple of IT friends a day +/- to coax it into operation.

But the shared NAS should be easy.

Connect the USB or FireWire connector to the router, load the software on the home server and viola!!!

Boy, Kuato knew what he was talking about when he said, “A man is defined by his actions, not his memory.”

Fortunately, our IT friend is very patient (with us) as we installed the two-drive 2TB NAS.

Trust us…UPnP (Universal Plug n Play) and slam dunk NAS are still works in progress.

The reason for two 1TB drives is simple…hard drives eventually fail.

By mirroring the first drive, we have our secure backup ready to take over when the inevitable happens.

Setting up the backup software was “relatively” easy.

We noted we’d really like to be able to access the unit remotely when we’re on the road.

Like Hauser, he looked at us and said, “Unfortunately, that’s not gonna happen”

It turns out, an errant click and you open the drive to the public.  Hackers love it.

And we weren’t hot about the idea of all of our files possibly saying, “Adios, amigo!”

Another fantastic idea down the tubes!!!

More Storage
No wonder storage unit sales continue to spiral.

Back to the Store – Home users are like business users.  Centralized storage I can use works fine as long as it’s the other guy’s stuff, but mine?   Too important, so I’ll keep it here.  The only choice?  Back to the store for more storage.  Source -- Gartner

Systems/devices still have their storage.

A home server has big, shareable storage.

The kids (and the rest of us) still want portable units for extra space, back up, just to be cool.

They just seem to get smaller and cheaper.  And, it gives the kids exercise as they decide who is going to get the next sexy, high-capacity drive.

Friendly Rivalry – It never seems to end in our household.  The kids get new work/entertainment devices and they grab/produce more content that they have just got to store so they can enjoy/use…later.  Since deleting files is out of the question, we let them decide who is going to get the next 500GB storage unit.
Source – Tristar Pictures

Love it when they stare each other down and repeat Cohaagen’s warning, “Don't touch that! Get away! Get back!”

Now, if we can only find which drive has all our tax return info on it…

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