The future of portable data storage

Posted on 6th October 2016.

These days every man and his dog has a USB stick. We have either been provided one by our employer, presented one as a gift by a client, or bought one because their so damn convenient. These days they often come branded and data loaded especially if you have received it rather than purchased it. USB sticks are growing in popularity and are beginning to replace CD’s and DVD’s, particularly as a marketing tool for obvious reasons. But how long will this phenomenon last?

The concept that may drive changes to this popular means of storing data remotely is online in origin. Free web storage is a rapidly growing area of the online world. Of the sites I sampled Mozy.com seemed to be the most interesting case in point. Mozy.com offers users 2GB of secure online back up. It’s simple, automatic and secure. Now 2GB is quite a lot, however, USB sticks now come in sizes up to 32GB. In answer to this Mozy.com offers unlimited online back up for as low as $4.34 US per month. Now that’s pretty good but not as cheap as buying a 32GB stick and using it for the next couple of years.

The other important issue is data transfer speed. Now if you have audio and video files to transfer and lets face it, its not necessarily text people want to back up these days, then you will be limited by the upload speed of your internet service provider. In Australia ADSL 2 is around 500kbps. USB drives however can write at about 15 mbps and read at around double that. This is a significant difference and worth thinking about when comparing your options.

When looking at the corporate sphere, many corporate web sites have downloadable documents available both within their public spaces as well as their well healed intranets and extranets. The advantage of providing pre-prepared data loaded information on a USB stick is that your employees and clients don’t have to go tramping around looking for it, you have serviced them and taken the leg work out of the equation ensuring that your message is only one click away.

From our little comparison, it seems that USB drives may have a little life in them yet. Of course here in Australia the government is planning a national broadband roll out to all states and territories over the next 6 years. Apparently this will provide 90% of Australians with 100mbps via cable and the remaining regional areas with 12mbps via satellite. In addition, as the cost of server and hard drive space continues to drop in price, I’m sure sites like Mozy.com will be upping their free data allocation enticing more of us online for data storage. When that happens, the only thing likely to be swinging around your neck, will be the familiar sound of your jewelry.

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