[Originally published on Jan. 5, 2016 by Larry Jordan.]
One of the benefits that I really enjoy when attending trade shows is discovering small companies with interesting products. I met ProStorage at the Storage Visions Conference in Las Vegas earlier this week and wanted to share what I learned.
ProStorage is long-term, protective packaging specifically designed to hold up to 24 hard disks or SSDs in a layered, anti-static environment. These cases can be stored in file cabinets, on shelves or in Pelican cases for travel.
Designed by professional photographer Michael Grecco to preserve his own digital assets, these cases are used by companies such as Apple, Sony Pictures, NASA, the US Navy and many more.
MSRP: $79.99 (18 drives), $99.99 (24 drives)
WHAT THIS IS
From the ProStorage website: “ProStorage is a breakthrough product designed specifically for secure, off-line digital data storage, or ‘cold storage.’ Our products provide businesses and individuals confidence that their data is safeguarded from potential competitor hacks, network failures and creates a comprehensive recovery plan.
“ProStorage cases accommodate up to 24 hard drives and are specially designed with closed-cell, anti-static foam to provide layered protection from static electricity and shock. All of our cases can easily be stored within a locked file cabinet or safe, further organizing your office space. They simplify archiving techniques.
“The rapid increase and growth of digital content has placed an urgency on how to safely and effectively store and archive digital information. ProStorage leads the way in reliable, effective off-line digital data storage solutions that protect against potential system failures, file corruption and security issues. Additionally, our cold storage methods lessen the negative environmental impact by reducing bulky external hard drive casings, cables and paraphernalia associated with other traditional and costly archiving methods. We are happy to be the leader in digital cold storage.”
WHY THIS IS
After meeting Michael at the Conference, I sent him a list of questions to learn more about his products. Here is our conversation.
Larry: Why did you invent ProStorage?
Michael: I was an owner of a digital lab (digital capture company) and as we created more and more images for myself and our customers we needed a cost effective way to store the data.
Larry: What makes it special?
Michael: I guess it is special in it’s simplicity. I have the Patent on safely storing 3.5 inch hard drives in 2 draw and 4 draw file cabinets, and full and half bankers boxes. The product is made of close cellular anti-static foam, but the idea of being able to conveniently store and archive your drives in an organized and protected way is what ProStorage is about. Because this medium is the fastest and most cost effective medium to write to, this was the solution for our former company and my photography studio.
Larry: What is its projected life?
Michael: I have had my ProStorage unit now for 12 years with no sign of the material degrading in any way.
Larry: Why not just archive on LTO tape?
Michael: Tapes are not as versatile, meaning there are not as many reader options and people do not tend to have tape readers at every station. They also wear and are not as fast and as cost effective. A 4T bare NAS drive, 7200 rpm is only $120 on Amazon. You can not beat that!
Larry: Hard disks can go bad over time, what do you do to prevent this?
Michael: I buy 5-year warrantied NAS drives and rotate the copies from file cabinet to storage at least once a year just to keep the drives active. One set is in an art storage facility I keep my photography art work in and one set is in my studio in a file cabinet. The studio copies might get updated, files added, etc. so once a year we synchronize both sets with SuperDuper and put the studio set in storage and storage set in the studio
Larry: Can you travel with this?
Michael: Yes, you can take the lid and use it to cover the top of the drives and seal them in a half or full bankers box. We are also working on a case version of the anti-static foam.
Larry: Can you use this to store both standard spinning media and SSDs?
Michael: I do, you can fit 2 2.5 inch drives in a slot if you would like. We are now working on a 2.5 SSD drive version of the unit. We will announce when we release that.
Larry: What is more important for someone considering this to know?
Michael: Don’t use old questionable drives to store and archive. Always initialize and zero out a drive that has had any data on it. As I mentioned above I always buy the NAS quality drives and in 12 years have not had a drive failure.
Larry: Anything else you want to add about the product?
Michael: I use this system to store data that I do not need live online all the time. This tends to be all the raw video and shoot data when I come back from a high res still shoot or 4K video shoot. For that, this is about efficiency, both in medium cost and write speed. It’s fast and cheap.
After reading this article after it was published, Michael added the following clarification:
I just want to clarify one thing. I do not actually transfer data from an old drive to a new drive. When we first write our data we write it to two drives in parallel. When those drives are filled they go from both being in our file cabinet in one place to me putting the secondary drive away in a storage facility. On a side note I number these drives and keep an A set and a B set. So the B drive gets put away into storage with all the other B drives that are filled up and the A drive stay in the file cabinet.
Every six months or year we synchronize one set to the other. We synchronize the set in the file cabinet (that might’ve been updated) and use that as the The master to the drive that was in storage. Once synchronized we put the B set that was in storage in the file cabinet and use that for six months to a year while the A set goes into storage.
We do not continually write to newer and newer drives. My 001A and 001B drives are 250 gig drives from 12 years ago. I’m still using the same drives unless we see errors or here clicking. When we synchronize them with superduper we just make sure there are no errors. Smart ups is running and warns us if there’s an error problem.
I hope that makes sense [in that] we’re not advocating that you have to continually write to new drives, [but that] we’re advocating that you continually, meaning once a year, have to at least turn them on and spin them.
An important point that Michael makes that I want to reinforce is that you can’t simply unplug your drive, slip it into one of his cases and then ignore it. Michael transfers his data between drives about once a year. (Or, more specifically, he has his intern do it.) While your drives are protected in storage, that does not mean they can be ignored. You need to actively manage your digital assets.
The key is that data stored on a hard disk MUST be spun up and transferred fairly frequently to be sure that the data stored on the disk is not lost. While I would recommend updating to new drives every few years, I agree with his data rotation plan.
These cases are made from a foam plastic. They are easy to see, easy to carry, yet protect your drives better than most other products.
While my personal opinion is that LTO tape is a better archiving solution, LTO is expensive. The good news about these cases is that they are cheap, reliable and require no additional software or user manual to use.
If you are looking for a better way to store your drives, check into ProStorage. Versions for Pelican cases and SSD drives will be arriving shortly.