A Storage Story

One of the great things about Macworld Expo and Conference is that you can get a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of products. The problem is that you really can't get too personal with products because you're really not suppose to. The stuff vendors have on display are for show and tell: they show you just what they want you to see and tell you just what they want you to hear. You walk away thinking that the product is the greatest thing since feet and wonder how your life can possibly go on without it.

Unfortunately, many things in life seldom live up to the hype heaped upon them by their makers.

For instance, I'm in need of extra storage. My photographic efforts have quickly filled my 250GB FireWire drive and I want something that will provide lots of space, but also mirror the data onto a second drive so that nothing short of a meteor strike would have a chance of completely destroying my work.

I hurriedly checked around online and found what I thought was a good inexpensive solution. The vendor Web site claimed the product would provide security and simple set up. I bought the sales pitch hook, line, and sinker as well as the storage they advertised.

Well, the system arrived and I immediately went about getting it up and running. The problem was that there was nothing simple about the setup. Not easily found anywhere on the manufacturer's site, but readily shown in the setup guide (which you must open the packaging to read) is a statement that says that the storage system -- a 1 terabyte, 2-disk affair -- could not be set up for mirroring (RAID 1) on a Mac unless that Mac was of the PPC variety.


That's right. This vendor couldn't be bothered to recompile a bit of code so that it would run on an Intel Mac. They also couldn't be bothered to let perspective buyers know of this shortsightedness, choosing deception instead and withholding the truth until after purchase.

What's more is that the drives in this system are not hot swappable, also something not readily apparent until I opened the box. What's the sense of mirroring your data if you can't easily remove the mirrored drive and store it in a safe place?

Heck, I could have bought a better system from the back of a lowrider.

I sent the silly storage system back.

I'm not a huge fan of Best Buy, especially when you can get far better prices online, (or even the aforementioned lowrider manned by a guy whose dentist has a Fort Knox zip code) but one thing Best Buy, or any other brick and mortar store (or the lowrider) can offer is a chance to actually fondle, prod, poke, and otherwise handle equipment you intend to buy.

While out at Macworld I saw storage aplenty and could easily see advantages of one system over another.

The experience taught me 2 things:

1. Never buy IT equipment from the back of a low-riding Lincoln and a guy with more jewelry in his mouth than what Elizabeth Taylor owns. It makes returns tougher than they should be.

2. Spend the extra money and get the stuff you know you can use; don't "make do." Cheaping out on IT equipment will almost always cost you more in the long run.

I also realized is that there are a lot of storage options available out there, prices are falling and we, as computer using consumers, should really take advantage of the savings.

You won't just be saving a few bucks. If your main drive crashes you'll save a mountain of money in aspirin, blood pressure meds, and possibly your current harmonious existence with your significant other.

Over the course of the next few months I hope to examine several storage solutions and present my findings here and in my Just a Peek column.

Stay Tuned