Barney's Rubble

Limits of Unlimited Storage

The capability is there but, according to Doug, the tools are lacking.

In the early '90s, I found desktop video. With it, you could digitize clips and move your scenes around. Say goodbye to cutting and splicing.

Taken to the extremes, the idea was staggering. What if you could digitize everything that came over your cable TV? Then you could see any show anytime.

This was years before DVRs, which came out nearly 10 years later. Did I think of it first? Surely not. But I hadn't heard anyone else talk about it. Not wanting to take false credit, I learned that right after the VCR came about in 1956, smarter folks than I contemplated a digital version -- two-dozen years before my brilliant idea. Duh!

Nowadays storage is crazy cheap, whether cloud or in-house. The hardware is nearly free, but using it is another matter. Here's an experiment: Look at a storage vendor's software line and try to make sense of it. Tough. The market is more complex than need be.

Now try to use all this stuff. Sometimes you do a backup and it chokes on the previous archive. The software isn't always smart enough to know all that data is a previous backup from the same client, and says you have no room. And it can't fix it.

How many times do you do a full backup, crash and then can't restore? How do you even navigate all the archives? I reckon that depends on your software and procedures, both of which must be perfect.

The cloud, being managed by something that only exists to manage data, seems simpler. I've tried to store and retrieve cloud files. Sometimes it's easy; other times the procedure is scarier than Boris Karloff. And some free services are a worse tease than Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." You store some data for free, then for the big stuff you have to pay. Later on you try and get the file, and you've forgotten the login and password, or the darn service has gone down.

Back to the DVR. What if we really could digitize everything? We'd have a complete record of our lives, perhaps one that could digitally replace a static grave marker.

As a teen in the '70s, I imagined a grave marker like a jukebox, where you could flip through photos and writing. With digital everything I started to think of a kiosk that contains my entire life. Like the DVR, years after it hit me companies had started making it -- or at least a semblance of it. Did I think of it first? Surely not. I just hadn't heard anyone else talk about it.

Now we just have to make this amazing world of storage work as advertised.

What would you do with virtually unlimited storage? Tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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