Is it worth trying to save an old 320GB network drive?Jack Schofield, guardian.co.ukGuardian
I have an Iomega network drive for backups, bought I think in2008, with what was then a princely capacity of 320GB. It worked finewith Windows XP, and I was expecting it would be usable for manyyears. I wanted to include a new Windows 8 machine in the network, butthis was not a success. I requested a Windows 8 installation programfrom Iomega, but they didnt want to know, and disown such a decrepitpiece of hardware. (I enclose the record of an online chat I had withthem for your information.)I dont suppose there is a solution to this, but you could maybe warnothers about Iomega's policy of discontinuing support for olderhardware.Name withheld
It's not nice when companies discontinue support for old hardware, butit's very common, and by no means unique to Iomega. Many consumer ITproducts are only on sale for about 12-24 months, and some surviveonly 6-12 months before they are revised. A five-year-old design likeyour network drive may be three or more generations behind the currentmodel (and predates Iomega's takeover by EMC). It's expensive tosupport a lot of previous generations, and the income from providingsupport is usually zero, so companies would much rather you bought areplacement.
This can be excusable with IT products if the new model is much morepowerful and, or much cheaper than the old one, and, or includes newfeatures such as support for USB 3. It makes sense with hard disksbecause you can't guarantee they will last that long.
My rule of thumb for budgeting hard drive purchases (amortisationcost, if you like) is to assume they will last for about five years,on average, unless you fill them up first. This is compatible withhard drive guarantees that last one to three years and rarely extendto five. Yes, I do have hard drives that are still going strong afterseven or eight years, but I've also seen them fail sooner than that.
If your drive is five years old now, then you should be thinking aboutreplacing it anyway, especially as it's a back-up drive. It's easierand cheaper to replace a working drive than it is to retrieve anymissing data.
Hard drive technology has moved on in the past five years, and todayyou'd be looking for a 2TB (terabyte) or larger hard drive to replaceyour old Iomega. Sizes from 1TB to 3TB are common, but 2TB drives areattractively priced and will give you about six times as much storagespace.
Typical entry-level NAS (Network Attached Storage) products includethe Western Digital WD MyBook Live Personal Cloud Storage, SeagateFreeAgent GoFlex Wireless Home NAS, and Buffalo LinkStation Liveranges at around 100 to 150.
Entry-level products are a cheap form of NAS and tend to attract verymixed reviews on Amazon.co.uk. The number of one-star reviews mayalmost equal or surpass the five-star reviews, with not so manyratings in between. Either a NAS works and users think it's brilliantor it doesn't work easily and is therefore rubbish. However, I don'texpect you want to stump up the extra for something like a SynologyDS212J DiskStation NAS/DLNA/iTunes media server which costs 160without any hard drives. You buy those separately for about 100 each.
You don't mention which type of Iomega NAS you bought, but in youronline conversation, the very apologetic Iomega rep confirms that itdoesn't work with Windows 8. In other circumstances, it can be worthdisconnecting your PC from the internet and disabling its anti-virussoftware to see if this is interfering with the connection.
Also, most NAS drives are enclosures with drive bays that hold fromone to four standard 3.5in hard disks, which you can remove andinstall in a different enclosure. With an aging 320GB drive, this isneither advisable nor worth the effort, in my opinion, but you couldinstall your 320GB disk in a suitable NAS enclosure alongside a largerdrive. Alternatively, you could wipe the drive and sell your NAS to anXP user on eBay for perhaps 15 to 25.
I ran a few searches to get some idea of the prices of Iomega 320GBdrives and any particular problems with Windows 8. I found, amongother things, that Saverstore.com had cleared its stock of 320GBIomega 33814 Home Network Hard Drives, which was 108.09, at 0.66inc VAT. I expect they'd have fetched more on eBay, and yours isprobably a different model, but it's an indication that this type ofdrive is approaching the end of its life. It's time to think aboutmoving on
To make a general point about backing up data, this is not a one-offprocess. You can't just take a backup and forget about it. The filesmay stay the same but the physical media change all the time, so youneed to think about moving your data onto new media every five to 10years or so. The changes to removable storage media have been veryvisible: we've used 8in, 5.25in and 3.5in floppies in various formats,and optical media have progressed through CD-Rom and DVD to Blu-ray.Hard drives have also changed from SCSI through IDE and EIDE totoday's SATA. Nothing lasts forever.