My Classic Hard Disks Are Spinning Right into the Graveyard

As the technology of SSDs develops and capacities grow, the lower capacity drives will become very, very affordable. See for example, this article that launched my new plan. " Watch out, hard disks! Solid state drives will soon store more data."

This is happening in two stages. First, I have seen the community of Mac users steadily replacing the boot drives in their Macs with SSDs (or direct Flash memory). This started first on the MacBook Air and is now common on iMacs. I first did this in 2010 when I paid an extra US$400 to have a 256 GB SSD in my new 27-inch iMac instead of a terrabyte spinning hard disk. Every Mac I've owned since has booted from a solid state drive.

If you're curious, I have leapfrogged Apple's Fusion drives. I've never even thought about using one.

Along the way, however, it has been more cost effective to buy cheap hard disk storage for backups in concert with Apple's Time Machine and other backup tools like Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC). Also, in order to offload the typically small internal SSD in my Macs, it has made sense to put large files, such as virtual machine files, on an external spinning disk and back that up to, you guessed it, another spinning hard disk.

However, even this is changing. Last year, I bought my first SSD as a backup device. It's the Other World Computing Envoy Pro EX. On an experimental basis, I paid about $200 for a 240 GB model that can completely back up my Mac Pro's internal storage. I use Prosoft's Data Backup 3 for that task. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I back up the entire internal storage of the Mac Pro. I use CCC as well, but to a spinning hard disk. And Time Machine backups also go to a low cost USB 3, 3 TB hard disk.

OWC's Envoy Pro EX (240 GB). Smaller than an iPhone.
Weighs 100 grams.

In 2016, I expect that to change. In the not too distant future, I expect to use one of these Envoy EXs as my Time Machine drive. The eventual goal is to get rid of all spinning hard disks in the household except the ones in my Synology RAID unit.

Not only are these USB 3 Envoy Pro EX SSDs very small and light, but they're also bus powered and very quiet. No more power bricks on the floor for desktop hard disks.

I admit, this is a fairly aggressive plan, but it's a good plan. I suspect I'll be able to buy 500 GB of high quality SSD storage in June of 2016 for, perhaps, $250.

And then, with a smile on my face and a chill in my spine, I'll retire my last Time Machine drive as a spinning, magnetic hard disk. I'm sure there will be a feeling of nostalgia, just like I've had for those VHS tapes in the basement. And that'll be the graveyard for my hard disks as well.

Follow along with me in 2016 as I report on my spinless adventures.

Next: The Tech News Debris for the Week of February 8th.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of February 8th


Have you been wondering what Apple's iPhone 7 might offer? Here is everything you could possibly want to know about it. "Apple's iPhone 7 DETAILED: Specs, Hardware & Features Rumours."  And I mean everything!

Image credit: Nikon

How good is the camera in your iPhone 6s? Really? Can it replace a modern digital SLR? Here's a great comparison article, full of interesting photos. "Camera Face-Off: Can an iPhone Beat a DSLR?"

Coincidentally, the distinguished Ted Landau has some related thoughts on the matter: "The almost death of the telephoto/zoom lens."

Has the Big Commercial software we use gotten out of control? Can we trust it to serve us well? Can it even be managed well anymore? Jesse Kriss ponders the merits of: "Anti-capitalist human scale software (and why it matters)" To quote:

I am coming to the conclusion that we simply can’t rely on corporations to produce and maintain great, reliable, human-centered software. The systems and incentives are in direct conflict.

In my mind, one of the core problems is a lack of agency. If Twitter or Facebook push out a feature that is destructive to the way we use their services, or they refuse to create tools that are plainly necessary, we can do little but complain. As individual, non-paying users, we have virtually no leverage.

There might be a way out. As Walt Disney said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Mr. Kriss explores.

You may have heard about the security flaw in Sparkle, a framework that developers use to update their apps. We haven't seen any exploits in the wild, but you may want to learn more. This article by Rene Ritchie and Nick Arnott at iMore explains the situation and links to a list of major Mac apps that use Sparkle. "Sparkle updater vulnerability: What you need to know!" Consider this your weekend homework assignment: watch for updates to those listed apps that fix the problem.

Investors sometimes have trouble peering through the fog of high technology and understanding the value of Apple's offerings. Here's an interesting article that explores just that. The title is suggestive of the fact that Apple Pay matters more than some might think. "As It Passes 2 Million Locations, Does Apple Pay Really Matter?"

In this report, Samsung has entered a "state of emergency" after they lost the competition to TSMC to build Apple's A10 SoC for the iPhone 7 and other future iDevices. Consider Apple's decision justifiable business as usual. The only problem is that Apple's likes to dual source critical components. It appears that Apple has a lot of confidence in TSMC in Taiwan.

It's a risky business all around.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.