Data Storage from Afar
Networked hard drives and server farms are nothing new to the vernacular of a PC enthusiast. As a matter of fact, today’s modern PC enthusiast is more and more likely to build his or her own home server to deal with all the downloading and streaming that occurs from the Internet. But how do we handle a future that’s completely hard-drive-less?
As the Internet takes prominence in our lives ever further and communication becomes pivotal to the way we live and work, why not have a hard drive in the future that is run from the Internet entirely?
Here is the concept: your computer, rather than taking boot orders from a local hard drive, has the information come in through an Ethernet wire directly from the Internet. A hardware intermediary may be necessary, but you’d essentially be renting hard drive space in a server farm the same way a company would rent space in a server farm for their data needs.
In such a scenario, you’d truly be booting from the Internet and straight into your RAM. Because the hard drive is offsite, the maintenance on the drives would be performed by a company rather than yourself. Viruses wouldn’t be an issue because all the data would be kept behind a completely secure hardware firewall installed in the storage company’s Internet infrastructure.
But how close are we to this reality really?
Pretty far away, actually. The main problem is the speed with which the Internet currently operates. At maximum, a broadband DSL line, which is the most common Internet connection for the type of user that would want this form of data storage, can operate at a few Mbps, whereas a SATA transfer cable can operate upwards of 20-30 Mbps, if not higher. This means that the data received from the Internet would be significantly slower than the data received over a local connection.
For the type of speed necessary to make such a radical idea work, we still need a few more generations of fiber optics developments, or perhaps an over-the-air solution like the WiMAX standard of networking. Regardless, the speed difference is one we won’t be approaching for at least the better part of ten years or so.