I was wondering through a new Walmart store the other day and noticed the electronics department had been completely rearranged and new displays had been brought in with pretty much the same products but displayed in a more attractive exhibit. What particularly caught my eye were several fancy decorated cardboard racks filled with UBS jump drives or as some call them “flash memory” drives. They were priced a little less than the last time I wondered through that same store. Namely, the 4GB storage drives were under $10 and 8GB units were under $20.
Let’s put that in perspective. In 1999 I purchased a very expensive desktop computer from Dell. It cost me around $3,000. The HD in that computer was 8GB! It is difficult to find a computer of any kind in the year 2010 that has so little storage. It is not uncommon for the least expensive computers to have 40GB to 60GB. I doubt if there are very few who even fill them up. Only those who are storing videos, movies and tons of music tunes would ever use that much for personal use.
Well, whatever the storage capacity is there is good reason to have a backup system in case the computer or HD goes kaput. Several companies now offer online storage for a monthly fee. These systems usually operate by having the subscriber download a management program onto the PC for automatic data storage. Sounds good and they work just fine. The idea of having your backup data in a secure off-site location seems like a good solution. Off-site storage, or at least a storage place that is impervious to disaster strikes, is the responsible thing to do for corporate and government organizations. But, it is my thesis that the home PC user who is storing personal data does not need such extreme measures for backing up their data.
The cost of these commercial storage centers is around $10 per month. Some are more, some are less. When you can purchase a USB flash drive for under $10 that stores 4GB you get enough capacity for most casual users. Those who have stored lots of video, movies, games, music and personal information such as family genealogy and such may need more storage. However, studies show that the typical home user and even a small business operator rarely needs more than 4GB. Maybe one will need 8GB or even 16GB of backup capacity. Such capacity is easily available in USB flash memory at a cost of $50 or less. The economy of USB backup storage is less than the online method because the investment, which is a one time purchase, is much less than the annual subscription cost.