One of the defining features of cloud data storage today is the huge amount of storage space that is available – compared to the relatively small amount of network bandwidth to move the data from where you are to where the cloud is. This is in stark comparison with on-premises solutions for which the reverse is true: storage capability is more limited, but data transfer and retrieval can be much faster. For some people, this won’t be a problem. Their files are vital, but not too voluminous, and uploading the information can be done quickly. Others however may have rather more data to upload, and the trend is towards greater and greater volumes.
The speed of data transfer up to a cloud storage provider may also dip below its stated maximum in certain cases. Some providers make utilities available to customers for this, to keep the data transfer operations compatible with all the other computing activities going on. Others impose such limitations on bandwidth, for instance after a certain amount of data has already been uploaded. Depending on the provider and the data limits, businesses trying to back up the contents of a hard disk on a server may find that the process will take weeks or even months. In this case, another solution is needed.
Seeding Online Data Storage
Even cloud storage providers with the fastest links will find it tough to upload information fast enough from many businesses today. This is especially true for the first upload, where all the information has to be transferred – compared to subsequent backups for which only information that has changed since the last time need be uploaded. Providers are now offering customers the possibility to ‘seed’ data storage by making the first, relatively big transfer using an alternative to a computer networking connection.
Meet the Modern Day ‘Sneaker Net’
Some years back, when all networks were slow including local connections on the same site, data would often be copied onto some magnetic medium (often floppy disks in those days) and hand-carried from one computer to another. This is where the name ‘Sneaker Net’ came from. People walked through the building (in their sneakers or other footwear!), taking the floppy disk or tape cartridge with them. Now cloud providers are giving customers the chance to do something similar: the data is recorded onto a tape cartridge or removable hard disk (the days of the floppy disk are over) and sent via courier or some other secure physical mail service.
What Effect Does This Have on Data Transfer Speeds?
Beyond a certain point, the bigger the quantity of data to be transferred, the faster you can do it simply sending the hard disks or tapes by overnight courier. A sample comparison goes like this. To move 100 terabytes of data (one terabyte is a thousand gigabytes) via an unbroken 1 gigabit/second network link will take about ten days. Transferring the same data by sending it overnight on tape cartridges will take about two days: one day in transport, one day (or less) to load it into the cloud storage provider’s servers at the cloud provider’s site.
Remember that You Might Want Your Data Back
It’s always possible that you will want to change cloud storage services at a later date. A guarantee from the current cloud storage provider to completely erase all your data if you stop using its services may be sufficient (then you send new tape cartridges to your new provider, for example). However, you may need to recover the whole of your data to ensure that you have all the changes that have been made since your first Fedex’ed upload. In this case, make sure you get the appropriate information from the provider about the possibilities to send all those oodles of data just as efficiently and rapidly back to you, should you need them.