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Dec 16, 2022

(+) How To Store Data in the Cloud

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.

I received a message from a newsletter reader, asking how to store a genealogy society’s huge collection of digital images on a safe and secure online service. The following is an excerpt from a longer message:

I noted your recent writing about cloud computing…  Our genealogical society is struggling to determine the best back-up/storage solution for our growing files of electronic data.  We are seriously into digitizing local county records. The archival images, as you know, are relatively large files.  We already have close to 3 terabytes of data with a projected growth to circa 10 terabytes in the next 3 to 5 years if our digitizing and other electronic projects take off.  

Having stable, secure storage is increasingly important to our society.  We simply cannot leave this digital data at risk. And shipping 1 terabyte or 1.5 terabyte hard drives around among society digitizers and in-house e-publishers doesn’t seem like a very good solution. We are concerned about possible data loss from lost or damaged shipments and similar hazards. We also know that having a single copy is not sufficient; we need multiple copies for backup purposes. We have invested a lot of time and money in creating these images of records and cannot afford the risk of having single copies.

What is the best way to store such a significant and growing amount of data where we can add to it, have it securely backed-up, etc. Engage the services of a server farm? Do you have one to recommend? Use Mozy? Use Carbonite? Other? 

Excellent questions! In fact, there are several possible answers. First, let me re-state the goals in my own words:

You wish to safely and securely store files that will eventually grow to about ten terabytes within a very few years. This collection of data must be safely stored in a modern data center, managed by professionals and with multiple backups stored in different locations for safety reasons. While you didn’t mention it, I will suggest that you also need excellent security to ensure that the society’s designated personnel and computers can access the files at any time, but nobody else is ever able to gain access.

I must say this sounds like a job for the cloud!

In fact, several cloud vendors can easily handle terabytes of information. 

NOTE: A terabyte is 1024 gigabytes. A gigabyte is 1024 megabytes. A megabyte is 1024 kilobytes. A kilobyte is 1024 bytes. If my math is correct, a terabyte is 1,099,511,627,776 bytes (a bit more than one trillion bytes), or close to the storage space provided by one million floppy disks.

Dozens of companies now provide storage space “in the cloud” and prices are generally reasonable. 

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