The Greatest Hard Drive of All Time, the Seagate ST320005N4A1AS-RK
Mankind searched for ages, yearning for immense, reliable mass storage devices. Mankind has hit the wall, found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the epitome of digital ensconcement. Make way for the ultimate hard drive; the Seagate ST320005N4A1AS-RK.
Never heard of it? Here's all you need know:
2 terabytes for barely more than $100.
That's 2 thousand gigabytes. Humans and monkeys typing infinitely couldn't fill it up. A digital spigot connected to the four hosts of The View couldn't fill it up. Well, at least not with useful data.
Typing at 120 words per minute, consuming an average of 8 characters per word, our World's Greatest Secretary (says so on her coffee mug) requires 1145324612 minutes to overflow the device. That's 19088743 hours. She's dedicated, so she works 2000 hours a year, accepting only a brief 2 week annual vacation. After 9544 short years and innumerable online arthritis cures, she'll complete the job. Amazing.
The thing fits into the same drive bay previously occupied by that 40GB drive that cost you $48 just the other day.
Which to buy... hmmm.....
40GB @ $48 = $1.20 per gig
2000GB @ $170 = $.085 per gig.
The smaller slower drive costs 14 times more and holds 2% as much. The poor baby was state of the art when Friends was a hit TV series, Now it's hardly fit to prop open a door.
The Bad News
Moving parts eventually fail, yes. A hard drive contains an amazing array of high-tolerance parts rotating and indexing in a digital ballet that, unlike Congress, actually boasts a deterministic functionality. Eventually an atom misplaces, a bit inverts, a checksum miscalculates, a boot sector munges, and the unit morphs into a paperweight. It teases you with the memory of data gone by. You know it's on there, you just can't coax it back out again. You vow never to be caught without current backups ever ever again. How in the name of Herman Hollerith do you back up all that data?
Buy another one.
Use two. We computer geeks call it mirroring. Every file saved to one drive is reflected to the the other drive as well. If the primary drive fails, the backup drive automagically steps in. The coolest thing is that mirroring is implemented in a $20 expansion card that plugs into your PC and needs no configuration. It just works. One such device is the "Sabrent Silicon Image Serial ATA 2-Port SATA RAID PCI Controller Host Card Adapter". Sorry about the name. In a perfect world we wouldn't suggest adopting a backup strategy that depends on a mechanical device (even this magnificent mechanical device) but experience indicates that a feeble backup strategy trumps no plan at all.
What in the World?
What do you do with this beast? A typical photo from a typical digital camera consumes about 800 Kilobytes. Our amazing archival device, the ST320005N4A1AS-RK, happily gobbles up 2,500,000 vacation photos. That ciphers out to 100 pictures a day for 68 years.
Like movies? at 4GB per DVD, including outtakes, director's cuts, and coming attractions, the ST320005N4A1AS-RK handles 500 motion pictures. Hollywood hasn't even produced that many watchable products.