Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Storing My Stuff...

(lyrics and audio of "Computer Chanty" by Dr. Seti can also be found here)

So-called Cyber Monday got me thinking not about online shopping but about the seemingly infinite capacity of cyberspace.

Urban dwellers with bulging closets, who once sought out physical storage centers for their precious belongings, are today apt to move as much stuff as possible into the digital universe instead.

At this point in time, this mainly means media memories -- stacks of records, tapes, snapshots, slides and the like. Personally, I'm on a painstaking, multi-year (perhaps multi-decade??) mission to digitize all my old media, starting with audiocassettes and photos, and then moving on to vinyl and finally video.

This requires lots and lots of digital storage space. So last year I added an external drive to my Mini Mac in order to store all the music and photos. But, after my Mac's hard drive died a few weeks ago, I began getting really worried about the external drive crashing, too. Especially after Walt Mossberg in The Wall Street Journal wrote about external drives' prevalence to do just that.

Taking Walt's advice, I decided it was time to enlist an online service to back up my music and photo files. The industry calls this SaaS (Software as a Service), part of the cloud computing explosion where everything's done in cyberspace rather than on your own computer. So I headed off to the clouds.

First, I paid for Carbonite, downloaded the Mac version, and discovered it would not work with non-Intel-based Macs. I asked for a refund.

Then I went to Mozy, contacted customer support to make sure it would work on a Power PC-based Mac, downloaded the software, and then spent several days trying unsuccessfully to get it to upload my files. Again, I asked for a refund.

I bypassed Walt's third and final example -- SugarSync -- and decided to try Crashplan instead. It's still backing up my files after several days, so I don't know if it will actually work in the end. But Crashplan offers 30 days free, not even requiring a credit card upfront, so if it fails at least I won't need to ask for a refund!

That, by the way, is the best kind of cyber shopping!

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