Driving Me Batty: How do you store their data? Or do you?

By | July 31, 2007

At work, I’m the IT manager as well as everything else. I’m in charge of five systems: 3 Windows 98 (One English, two Chinese) systems, XP is on two systems (one English, one Chinese).

You can figure that the interrelationships and commutations are quite difficult to manage: but it gets worse. One system has a DVD burner that won’t burn DVDs, every system has a CD burner. Some systems have only one Hard Drive, but some have two.

Then there are incompatibility problems between Windows 98 English and Chinese, as well as idiosyncracies that would make the hair fall out! One notable one is that file names in Chinese can be copied, deleted, opened or anything-ed in Windows 98 English version.

Additionally, some data has been copied to some other pcs; while some has been backed up to other pcs. There are numerous copies of the same files, but occasionally just one copy of important files. Some files even exist on our webserver.

On top of this, one of the systems has doubled as my personal workhorse for the past few years as well, while the home system (number 6!) also served as a print server while our photocopier was broken.

There are also legacy CDRoms with tons of data that was backed up for quite a while. Then I moved onto portable disks which could hold much more data. I have two such disks each stuffed with 80GB.

It’s difficult to make sense of all of this, but this has been my project for the past week. It’s quite clear to me that I need to find ways to manage the increasing amounts of data.

So, first I’m updating the systems so that we can reduce and eliminate the Windows 98 nonsense. That should put most of the systems on a level playing field. Then both primary systems will have DVD burners that can burn upto 8GB at a time.

Second, I will have to adopt an archiving policy by burning old data to DVD burner and removing it from the systems on which it was found.

Thirdly, categorizing and organizing data is going to be necessary. Unfortunately, the colleagues I work with are far from organized when it comes to managing their own data. I won’t be able to do so much on that score.

How do you guys deal with the ever increasing amounts of data and files that you work with? Do you archive and delete regularly? This really is a plea for help!

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2 thoughts on “Driving Me Batty: How do you store their data? Or do you?

  1. Craig Ferguson

    As a photographer with well over 25 000 photos on various harddrives and DVDs, I know that archiving and backups can be painful. But in the digital age, it’s a must.

    My suggestion would be to get a couple of big external harddrives – maybe 250-320GB each. Set up a folder structure on them so that each PC has it’s own folder, with the contents in subfolders – all of which is accessible to any PC the backup drive is plugged in to. You could look at an external RAID setup – I think the enclosures start at about $3500, plus of course the cost of the drives. RAID will allow mirroring of the data, so if one drive fails, it’ll be automatically backed up onto the other. You can also set them to do automatic backups nightly (or weekly, etc).

    And once all that is done, do a clean reinstall of Windows on all the PCs. Try and get them all onto XP – stay away from Vista until at least SP1 gets released.

    Finally, get some kind of data management software to keep track of it. I only really know about management software for photos, but there’s plenty of info out there for software for files. Try Googling “Digital Asset Management” and you should find something suitable.

    Oh, and the best way to do all this is to set aside a few hours (or a couple of days if you have LOTS of data) and just do it. Trying to do it a bit at a time just doesn’t work (speaking from experience).

  2. kennethdickson Post author

    That’s great advice. We’re exploring the large hard disk drive with DVD writing back up, too.

    The hard part is making it simple to use! and easy to follow.


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