How To Check The Health of System Data and Hard Disk

The video right after the break shows you how to check the health of system data and hard disk on Windows 8.  If you don’t already know how to do this for free, then check out the video and you won’t be disappointed.  Enjoy!!!

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Want To Keep Your Data Around For 1000 Years? You Don’t Need Alien Technology To Do So! You Just Need Millenniata M-DISC discs!

A photograph of a digital disc with disc rot.

A photograph of a digital disc with disc rot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not too long ago I had contemplated on the question of how to keep data around forever.  Nonetheless, as many other grand questions that had popped into my mind before, this one too came and disappeared from my mind without an answer.  Until now!  I stumbled onto a YouTube video with the title “Millenniata M-DISC Permanent Storage Archival Grade Media Showcase NCIX Tech Tips,” and I had a eureka moment.  Of course, Milleniata M-DISC would not be the answer for my question, because even with Millenniata M-DISC data would go corrupted in about, 1000 years?  But it was close!  Close enough for me to have had a eureka moment!

What?  1000 years you said?  Yes I did say so, but I didn’t make it up.  Just watch the videos right at the bottom of this blog post and you would see they had said the same thing.  Anyhow, nobody would be able to live 1000 years, therefore keeping the data for 1000 years would be excessive, right?  For you and me, the answer is yes!  For the future of mankind, the answer is not even close.  What if we humans need to keep some data around forever so history can be told again and again to whoever wants to know about us in millions of years later?  For the dinosaurs, they have their fossil bones, for us, we might have our data discs and fossil bones too!  For folks who are paranoid about not losing data as long as they are the masters of their data, I think Millenniata M-DISC might have to be the solution for them.

What is with the might have to be the solution phrase?  Well, I like the idea of having data around longer than my own lifespan or anyone else’s lifespan, but writing data onto any disc is troublesome.  Plus, buying disc and keeping them is also troublesome (i.e., many trips to the store or losing discs or forgetting to label the discs).  Nonetheless, I still think Millenniata M-DISC has paved the way for what soon to come that blows your mind!  This is my hypothetical slashes prophetic saying and thinking, perhaps someone might try to improve Millenniata M-DISC concept and technology and come up with a way to allow people to store data onto hard drive form factor that allows data go uncorrupted forever?

OK, data go uncorrupted forever might be a wishful thinking, because nothing lasts forever in reality!  Not even the sun, the moon, the stars, and anything else you have ever thought of as having been around forever.  I still think though, data to last for 1000 years on a hard drive form factor is way more awesome!  Therefore, I’m crossing my finger and hoping that someone can improve the Millenniata M-DISC data storage concept sooner than later!  For now, I think I might try out Millenniata M-DISC technology.

Millenniata M-DISC technology is expensive, but is not out of reach for ordinary technological enthusiasts like you readers of my blog.  For an example, when I browsed Amazon for Millenniata M-DISC, I saw 10 pack size with 4.7 GB spec for each M-DISC costs around $26.24.  In my honest opinion, I don’t think $26.24 for 10 M-DISC (4.7 GB storage capacity which secures your data for 1000 years) is too bad!  Of course, not even with Millenniata M-DISC to have such capability as storing data to last 1000 years can circumvent the price drop of popular technology (at least I think so).  So, I guess just like any other technology that has been around long enough, we might see Millenniata M-DISC discs to drop in price gradually.  If this happens, we might see people flock to M-DISC technology so they can keep their data around forever just for the sake of having the ability to do so.

Setting Up iSCSI With FreeNAS So Any Computer Can Have Additional Virtual Internal Hard Drives

Six hard disk drives with cases opened showing...

Six hard disk drives with cases opened showing platters and heads; 8, 5.25, 3.5, 2.5, 1.8 and 1 inch disk diameters are represented. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know you can use FreeNAS to host iSCSI service?  OK, what is this service anyway?  To tell the truth, I’m so new to this that I’m scared to talk of it, because I don’t want to have this wrong and steer you wrong.  Anyhow, I think I know how this service works inside FreeNAS.  Let me sum this up, it’s like using FreeNAS’s storage volumes to act as hard drives on different computers.  So, to make this clearer, let say you have a FreeNAS server with plenty of ZFS disk space and you had already created the necessary ZFS Datasets to act as if these ZFS Datasets are different partitions (i.e., ZFS volumes or hard disks); you can basically set up iSCSI service through FreeNAS to make these ZFS Datasets to act as if they are internal hard drives of any other computer you have access.  Once you set a computer to connect to iSCSI service’s volumes (i.e., extents) and with appropriate permissions, the users who log onto this specific computer will be able to use FreeNAS’s ZFS Datasets (i.e., ZFS volumes) as if there are additional internal hard drives on the computer.  How neat, right?  Unfortunately, I think the setup for iSCSI is rather confusing, and you have to really understand iSCSI to not make mistakes when setting up iSCSI service in FreeNAS.  I’m myself not exactly sure of how setting up iSCSI, therefore I can’t really make a video about iSCSI.  Luckily, I’ve found an instructive video of teaching you how to setup iSCSI in FreeNAS.  Please enjoy the video out right after the break!

Cloud Is Not A Miracle, It’s Just Another Tool In Your Famous Computing Toolbox

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia!

(Whenever I refer to a cloud, I mean a third party cloud service, OK?)

The cloud, the thing that you do nowadays so the data will always be within your reach as if you just look up, point, see, and say, “That’s my cloud!”  Sure, it’s quite reassurance to know the cloud might save you from a rainy day when the cloud actually shines and the rain has nothing to do with the cloud, but it has to do more with how your computers and local backup suddenly say bye bye to your precious data.  The mighty cloud shines like a sun as it allows you to recover your data, but are you sure the cloud will always shine, bright, and dry?

You need to know that the cloud is for your convenience only, therefore it’s convenient but not really safe!  Convenient?  Yes, you can access your data anytime at anywhere as long any place has any Internet connection so any computer there is can allow you to access any file!  A promise of conveniency and an extra point of redundancy might be just what some people need, but be very careful in relying on someone to take care your precious data!  After all, it’s you who has the most interest in having such data out of harm’s way.

You might forget that an extra point of redundancy which the cloud promises might not be hard to set up yourself.  You can rely on any third party cloud service and ignore that any third party cloud service might just be the many servers that hum cozily in some datacenters, but these servers and datacenters are just as susceptible to hardware failure, data corruption, and hacks as your local machines.  In fact, third party cloud services might have more problems than your own machines since such cloud services have to scale up (e.g., bigger datacenter, more hardware, more sophisticated software) to keep up with demands.  If demands aren’t there, third party cloud services will eventually dwindle away along with your data.

Cloud is shiny, bright, and pretty alright, but it’s so gorgeous only when the sky is just as bright.  Cloud can get darkish and nasty when the rain pours down hard on you (this rain has nothing to do with the rain outside).  So, don’t think the cloud is a miracle for all data problems, but just use the cloud as any other tool.  Try to use the cloud when you actually need to backup some not so important data, because these data you want to have easy access to and care not so much if someone else might accidentally have a peek at.  The truth is, within the cloud you never will have total control over your own data (i.e., except for the cloud that you actually host and run yourself).  In a way, you can view the cloud as a safe where you can just reach for whatever at your convenience, and you know it will always be there unless…

The cloud should never be a place where you have had the need to keep your data safe and away from prying eyes.  If you want to have redundancy for your precious data in case of data corruption, hardware failure, and the likes, you should store or backup multiple copies of such data locally.  If you have to store or backup your data remotely, make sure at least you have full control of your machines (or even the cloud).  One good example would be installing a machine in a datacenter which allows you to sign up for a co-hosting (i.e., also known as co-locating) plan, because this way you have full control of your machines (i.e., ensuring you have full control of your data at the cost of paying some monthly fee).

People might argue that the cloud will give you more free time since you don’t really have to worry about hardware failure, security measures, other technicalities and responsibilities in keeping your data and machine safe.  Plus, it’s rather convenient!  Nonsense!  The cloud can have just as many problems, and you might not know anything about it since such problems might be taken care of without your presence.  Sure, you don’t have to take care of such problems yourself, but when the real problems come knocking at you anyway, it’s when you know you should be at the helm when the problems go haywire to no end.

The argument is that bad things happen, with or without the cloud, therefore the cloud isn’t a miracle but just another tool among tools within your famous computing toolbox.  Use it wisely, and you have the bright, shiny, pretty, and happy cloud.  Use it wrongly, and you have one heck of a monster that eats and might even share your data with another monster (i.e., a hacker’s machine).  You should take the approach to be safe than sorry when it comes down to how to use a third party cloud.  How so?  Check out the random tips below:

  • Only store data that you might want to share with someone in the cloud
  • Encryption can be broken, but if you must store super important data that you might not want anyone to take a peek at, you must encrypt such data in the cloud
  • Backup only unimportant data in the cloud
  • If you must share cloud data, make sure you have the option of creating a share directory so only people that you grant access can take a look at a specific directory and data
  • Do not allow people to have the ability to change your data in the share directory (e.g., no write permission, no execute permission, no delete permission)
  • If you must allow some people to download your data in the share directory, you must know that you’re liable for sharing such data (i.e., do not share data that aren’t yours)
  • Cloud encourages behavior where you log onto any computer to access data, therefore such data should not be important to you at all if you intend to log into your cloud through public computers
  • Cloud isn’t a miracle or should it be replacing your usual local storages, because it’s just an extra point in data redundancy plan of yours, but for unimportant data only
  • Cloud can be hacked and might be more targeted by hackers than your regular machines (i.e., all types of data for hackers to mine in a single point)

Do Not Defrag SSDs

English: a 2.5 inch Solid state disk, E-disk f...

Image via Wikipedia

Some people might not know that defragging an SSD can be very bad.  Actually, a specific SSD can be worn out faster than usual if someone has defragged it too often.  Anyhow, in the video right after the break, I’ll touch on why it is so!  For the bonus I show you how to turn off the Windows 7’s automatic defragmentation schedule for all hard drives, and then I also show you how to manually defrag the traditional hard drives.

Dropbox Wants To Be More Than Just Storage In The Cloud

Creative Commons, type of Attribution, Image by Jennie Faber on Flickr on files and folders

Creative Commons, type of Attribution, Image by Jennie Faber on Flickr on files and folders

Can Dropbox endanger the fames and fortunes of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple?  OK, this question does sound wacky, but even Dropbox’s CEO Drew Houston hints that he wants Dropbox goes beyond just files and folders and sync.  The question is, how beyond?

I think Dropbox’s people can overdo the idea of going beyond what is Dropbox right now if they want to, and in this process they might invade into the territories (i.e., specific markets) of big corporations such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.  How?  What if Dropbox wants to develop search system within its ecosystem, and this search system will also allow users to incorporate external search data such as how Google does right now?  What if Dropbox wants to develop and integrate social elements that are similar to what Facebook has?  What if Dropbox wants to open up an application store and sell ebooks and electronic documents and more to users (i.e., this would be the territories of Amazon and Apple)?

It’s all about the conveniency!  If Dropbox wants to surprise users by providing all types of conveniences such as the ones I had suggested in the paragraph before this one, then I suspect that the users will be more than happy to go along with the development.  Personally, I can see myself immerse into Dropbox’s more than just what Dropbox is now ecosystem more and more as long Dropbox promises the essential services such as storing data in the cloud are still being prioritized for further improvements.  Of course, let not forget about security; security is the utmost important element in the practice of keeping users’ data safe and allowing users to sleep soundly at night, knowing their data won’t be in the hands of the wrongdoers.

Source:  http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/10/dropbox-is-working-on-ways-to-move-beyond-file-folders/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+
Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29