I really do not want one of these

Loads of excitement about a new box from Sun. Code name was Thumper. See ongoing: Thumper & Friends and Jonathan Schwartz’s Weblog: The Rise of the General Purpose System.

Amazing box and yes very exciting. So why don’t I want one?

It is not just Tim and Jonathon. Many others want them too.

I can understand the reasoning and it does appeal to the geek in me. Then I think about the noise, the space, the heat and the cost.

The key purpose of such a beast is to keep loads of data safe. Tim has written a good piece on this ongoing: Protecting Your Data.

But I still don’t want one, because it does not solve the real problems of protecting my data. The old argument is all about protecting from hardware failure. But that is becoming more rare and as Tim demonstrates there are quite simple solutions.

Simply having backups does not protect us from other problems (and I wonder what the relative frequency is now).

  • flood
  • fire
  • theft

So how do I keep my data safe?

Take photos for an example.

Far better and cheaper than buying a thumper for home is to upload all your photos to flickr or similar. Keep one local copy on disk (or if your volumes are low just keep buying more compact flash/sdram cards) at home in case Flickr has a problem.
All we then need is a photo editing suite that is properly integrated with flickr so that you don’t worry that the files are not local.

It would also be good if Flickr supported versioning of images. Then I can upload the RAW format, crop, adjust brightness etc while still having the original available.

What works for photos can work just as well for all other files. I can get to them anywhere, share them with anyone and I don’t need to buy any thumpers.

Of course for my peace of mind I hope Flickr etc will buy lots of Thumpers.

Oh and another example is backups. Rather than keep my backups at home where all I am protected from is hardware failure it is better for me to rent backup space on a thumper (I do need a better way than just full backups though – a sort of merged incremental so that it appears as a sequence of full backups). Although that assumes I keep lots of data at home, better still is to use the flickr model for all my data. Already easy for photos, weblogs, calendars, … Either way lots of service providers needing lots of data storage.

3 thoughts on “I really do not want one of these

  1. Martin Mariest

    And for what it’s worth, you at home are definitely not the target audience for Thumper – I wouldn’t want the noise/heat in my house, either.

    Flickr, alternatively, is exactly the target demographic… along with every other corporate/institutional environment wanting to aggregate, stream or analyze gargantuan amounts of data…

    Reply
  2. Simon Phipps

    I am a keen Flickr user and partially agree about using it as a portfolio backup. However, I prefer to use a RAID array on my LAN to keep my photographs and music safe because I want all of them safe, not just the superstars.
    While a thumper box would be cool, I already use a Buffalo Terastation at home which gives me 4x250Gb as a RAID 5 array and which sits as a shared network drive on all the machines in the house, storing absolutely every digital asset relatively safely.
    I agree with Tim Bray that this will be an increasing need for ordinary people, and until there is almost-free access to unlimited LAN-speed storage integrated into the operating system, I prefer a RAID array on my LAN to having to conciously decide to upload to Flickr etc.

    Reply
  3. DaveW

    Simon,
    I would like to see flickr add support for keeping our whole photo album, not just the good stuff (currently I just make stuff private).
    Also with the API it should be quite possible for a local app to simply use flickr for storage.
    As digital use widens in society the % able and willing to run servers at home will drop while costs of online storage will continue to drop.
    After all isn’t the network quite important to some companies :-)

    Reply

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