Where’s my 20 EB Holographic Disk Tube (or WTF is up with Storage)


Maybe my appetite for disk is outpacing the industry, but shopping for external storage is frustrating. First, let me frame the problem. I have little faith in hard drives these days. Traditional hard drives are made of platten that rotate at 7200 RPM very close to a tiny arm with a magnetic reader on the end. Yes, we’ve perfected this technology to the point where we can all rely on this thoroughly impractical idea, but it also means that once every year or two, you’ll have a drive that suffers mechanical failure or just stops working.

SSDs are a better idea, but they still seem too new to rely on. They are also still far too expensive to consume. Call me cheap, but I’m not ready to fork over the money for SSDs, and everyone I know who has had an SSD-based laptop has suffered a debilitating one week disk failure.

The problem is that Hard Drives die, and my hard drives tend to expire about once a year. Maybe I use them too much, maybe I have dirty power, I don’t know. What I do know is that the technology is an embarrassing mess. For all the reported elegance of the Apple products that are in my life, I still find myself spending way too much time assessing the current state of storage technology when I need to purchase an external hard drive.

And, I’m also surprised that capacity hasn’t seemed to keep up with demands. I’m sure most people see a 750 GB MacBook Pro and they think, “That’s a lot of storage, there’s no way I’d ever fill that up.” Since I record a lot of audio and produce a fair amount of video, I have an entirely different view. I see 750 GB and I think… I’ll fill that up in a few months.

Three problems: I eat through storage like I’m doing video production (because I’m doing video production), I’m wary of disk drives so I have to backup everything like I have OCD (because I have OCD), and I’m a cheap bastard so I don’t yet own a RAID 5 20 TB storage device. But, I’m also waiting for something bigger…

Years ago I was hearing about research into holographic storage technologies that promised to trigger a revolution in the space, but I’m still seeing incremental improvements. Every time I go to Best Buy, I always make sure to ask if they have any holographic 20 Exabyte disk tube device. They usually don’t understand.