I Change My Mind Occasionally

sorcadmin's picture
I have gotten into numerous discussions about how to securely save digital image files. My method of using gold-gold CDR discs for this purpose has not altered, I have an established system so making a change would not serve me well. But the only alternative in the past I could recommend were then expensive RAID-1 mirrored hard drives. They are now affordable, so are a reasonable alternative. This came to my attention in a MacWorld report I received via e-mail, featuring a Mercury Elite-AL Pro Dual mini 640 GB external drive for as little as $180.

So first of all I should explain what a mirrored RAID-1 external hard drive is and how it works. In this instance it is actually two 320GB hard drives in a single enclosure. So you have two identical hard disk drives that total 640GB. When in mirrored RAID-1 mode any data files saved to the system is stored twice, identically on each separate hard disk. This provides the security that if one drive fails, it can be replaced physically with a new one, then all of the data on the remaining drive is copied to the new one. The chance that both RAID-1 drives would fail at the same time is very remote, so you have a good assurance that your data will remain secure.

Although the source for these Mercury Elite drives is Other World Computing, at www.macsales.com, and is an Apple related hardware and software supplier. The OWC web site indicates the Mercury Elite drives are both PC and Mac compatible. These drives have FireWire 800 and 400 connections, and in this interface are Bus powered, as well as USB 2.0 and eSATA, with an input for DC power when the bus powered FireWire interface is not used. A selection of five different sized and configured RAID-1 drives are listed by OWC with combined capacities of 640GB to 2.0TB with prices listed from $180 to $319.

So today if someone asks me for a way to safely store digital photo files I can give them a choice of affordable RAID-1 drives or gold-gold CDR discs. Personally if I were beginning now I might very well choose a RAID-1 drive. But I will go along with that old saying, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. My old gold-gold CDR system still works fine for me.

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rwdallas's picture
RAID 1 as a back up

Please consider that a RAID 1 device set up in and of itself is not a true fail safe back up UNLESS on occasion the user replaces one of the drives and stores this mirrored drive AT ANOTHER LOCATION from the RAID device. While the RAID system in David's article works fine for a redundant data copy, there are other RAID systems, albeit a little more expensive, that allow the user to easily swap out drives for the express purpose of storing a copy off site.

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kovacsge's picture

Two 320GB drives in a raid-1 config only equals 320GB total space not 640GB.

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