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Mailing Disks is Faster than Uploading Data

CowboyNeal posted about 11 years ago | from the data-access-versus-data-excess dept.

Data Storage 581

CowboyRobot writes "Who would ever, in this time of the greatest interconnectivity in human history, go back to shipping bytes around via snail mail as a preferred means of data transfer? Jim Gray would do it, that's who. And we're not just talking about Zip disks, no sir. We're talking about shipping entire hard drives, or even complete computer systems, packed full of disks. David Patterson (one of the developers of both RISC and RAID) interviews ACM Turing Award winner Jim Gray." Back in school we always had a saying, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes." Seems like that still holds true.

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581 comments

Tapes too... (5, Informative)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | about 11 years ago | (#6411320)

This reminds me of how data is collected for SETI@Home:

After the data is recorded onto tapes at Arecibo, they are shipped back to the SETI@home lab in Berkeley, California. The data are then broken up into workunits, which are sent out to the client screensaver program for candidate signal detection. So far, SETI@home has generated 189,598,882 workunits from the data received from Arecibo. SETI@home has split 1,139 tapes, meaning that the average tape yields 166,709 workunits. This is somewhat lower than the optimal yield of roughly 200,000 workunits per tape because of radio frequency interference, gaps in recording, problems with the recording equipment, etc.

I think a work unit is 65,536 bytes. Even if it takes a week to ship one tape, you can't beat that throughput! But the latency is the worst.

Re:Tapes too... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411332)

true.

Re:Tapes too... (3, Informative)

Rura Penthe (154319) | about 11 years ago | (#6411338)

Well one tape = 166709 units * 64 (k) / 1024 / 1024 = ~10.175GB. 10.175GB a week is not particularly impressive. :)

Re:Tapes too... (5, Informative)

pixelite (20946) | about 11 years ago | (#6411423)

Well one tape = 166709 units * 64 (k) / 1024 / 1024 = ~10.175GB.


That figure is per tape, the actual shipment has 1,139 tapes, I think. 10.175GB * 1,139 = ~11.6TB. That *is* impressive bandwith.

Re:Tapes too... (-1, Troll)

Agent R (684654) | about 11 years ago | (#6411542)

Not to mention how much pr0n that can carry. Woohoo!

YOU FAIL IT! FIRST POSTS ARE FOR TROLLS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411351)

Your fp is claimed for trolls and crapflooders.

Why is this a surprise? (1, Interesting)

kramer2718 (598033) | about 11 years ago | (#6411324)

Storage grows probably more quickly than bandwidth.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (4, Funny)

slaker (53818) | about 11 years ago | (#6411467)

Speaking as a person on a 28.8kbps connection with well over 3TB of local storage, I could only *wish* that wasn't the case.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (1)

afternoon (310303) | about 11 years ago | (#6411524)

Bandwidth: The last great bottleneck of the 20th century. Hopefully we'll get it sorted someday, just before we invent power systems small enough to power giant mechs. But which one to get first..?

twelfth post??? fuck you two minute waiting period (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411326)

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Andy Tannenbaum (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411329)

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes."

"Hurtling station wagon", "8-track tapes".

Re:Andy Tannenbaum (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411365)

If it's hurtling, does it count as multiple station wagons under RIAA logic?

Re:Andy Tannenbaum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411387)

of course, if the stationwagons base speed is 5 mph (the speed the RIAA considers as "fast" for pirating) and the station wagon then goes 50, then you have 100 stations wagons (by their logic each increase is 10 station wagons worth of stolen music by the RIAA effect, which means all stolen data is stolen by all persons that might listen to it on its way to the source, that is by definition a minimum of 10).

so yea ;-)

Re:Andy Tannenbaum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411537)

There's a joke somewhere in here about landspeeds of unladen station wagons (domestic or foreign) and the possible migration of data tapes. Someone want to find it?

Wrong Standard! (5, Funny)

theGreater (596196) | about 11 years ago | (#6411331)

Darn you people! How the heck am I supposed to get a proper astrophysical mental image if you consistently refuse to put things in terms of multiples of VW bugs (the old ones, not the faux ones).

-theGreater

Re:Wrong Standard! (5, Funny)

I Like Swords!!! (668399) | about 11 years ago | (#6411451)

Sorry, that must be in the metric system or something...

Reminds me of... (1, Interesting)

tarius8105 (683929) | about 11 years ago | (#6411334)

the BBS I worked for used to ship out tapes archives of the file libraries. Used to take hours to store upto 160 megs of files.

Netflix (5, Interesting)

geekee (591277) | about 11 years ago | (#6411341)

Netflix has made a business out of shipping data via snail mail, since the bandwidth isn't really there yet to do it over the internet.

Re:Netflix (1, Funny)

tarius8105 (683929) | about 11 years ago | (#6411381)

Well now that they have that new fast TCP, that might change.

Re:Netflix (3, Interesting)

G27 Radio (78394) | about 11 years ago | (#6411442)

I think it's more a matter of them not wanting to get sued into oblivion by the MPAA. With broadband and DivX, downloading the movies is relatively fast and easy. They'd make a killing if they were able to make movies cheaply available online.

Re:Netflix (2, Interesting)

glen (19095) | about 11 years ago | (#6411471)

Good point, I subscribe to HollywebDVD in Canada. But, I think it's more of a licensing problem.

Hopefully the Apple Itunes store evolves into a video rental outlet of some sort.

The bandwith is there, you just can't have it. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | about 11 years ago | (#6411535)

Netflix has made a business out of shipping data via snail mail, since the bandwidth isn't really there yet to do it over the internet.

What a great example you picked! Cable TV companies are pumping dozens of digital movies accross their system at once, live. Yet they crimp your upload speed to DSL rates or lower, 30KB/s, because they are afraid of people "stealing" movies. This is not a technological problem, it a social one. Big publishers and telcos are afraid of competition and are doing everything in their power to keep you from enjoying technology that's already in place. It's the same old fight Ma Bell used to wage back when they would not alow you to so much as plug a modem into your phoneline.

How long are people here in the US going to put up with this monkey business?

Stationwagon Quote (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411348)

I believe that the station wagon quote really belongs to Andrew Tannenbaum.

Re:Stationwagon Quote (4, Informative)

joe_bruin (266648) | about 11 years ago | (#6411497)

i believe your attribution is correct.

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes

however, while the immediate bandwidth of a station wagon filled with tapes may be enormous, the overall bandwidth is quite poor. this is because of the slow write/read rates of the tape drive, and the slow overall speed of the station wagon. i can transfer 3 gigs from my work computer to my home machine faster than the time it would take me to write the 3 gigs to tape, drive it there, and read it back from tape (and my drive is only 15 minutes). if i lived 5000 miles away, my tape bandwidth would be considerably worse, while my internet bandwidth would be virtually unchanged.

since this statement was made, we have reached the point where internet bandwidth has exceeded the "vehicle full of tapes". now, this one might be good for a few more years:

Never underestimate the bandwidth of an sr71 full of netapps

We had a saying back in school too... (5, Funny)

Capital_Z (682911) | about 11 years ago | (#6411349)

We had a saying back in school too --

"If you're driving a station wagon around you ain't doin' too well with the ladies"

Re:We had a saying back in school too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411428)

Perhaps lacking in presentation, but short of a van with a waterbed, unequaled in utility.

Re:We had a saying back in school too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411473)

Perhaps lacking in presentation, but short of a van with a waterbed, unequaled in utility.

Yes, big vehicles are all great if you want fat chicks, but my motto is:

"If they can't fit in the backseat of a car, they're too damn fat."

... at least... I wish it were...

Uhhhh.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411350)

[typical Slashdotter]

What's a station wagon?

[/typical Slashdotter]

Re:Uhhhh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411401)

Think of an SUV, only flater, longer and suckier. Sometimes with faux wood paneling. (In prehistoric times some actually had real wood, and probably stone wheels.)

Re:Uhhhh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411415)

faux is the word of the day -- peewee style

Re:Uhhhh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411408)

Half the price of a SUV, anyways.

OOoooh high ping (5, Funny)

Ribo99 (71160) | about 11 years ago | (#6411354)

Of course playing Quake would be out of the question I would think

Re:OOoooh high ping (2, Funny)

felonious (636719) | about 11 years ago | (#6411378)

This gives HPW new meaning
Is a sports car considered a LPB now?

Re:OOoooh high ping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411386)

Not in Iraq.

"real-time quake arena"

Re:OOoooh high ping (2, Funny)

tarius8105 (683929) | about 11 years ago | (#6411422)

Of course playing Quake would be out of the question I would think

Damn and I used to think having a 400ms ping was bad.

high ping == less spam (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411452)

I get much less "enlarge your penis!" stuff in snail-mail than e-mail.

Actually, that's not a property of the high ping. It's because snail-mail spam costs real money to the sender.

Well, depends on what way you look at it. (5, Interesting)

gotr00t (563828) | about 11 years ago | (#6411355)

Though it is true that a box filled with hard disks that is snail mailed has a higher rate of transfer than actually uploading the contents of all those hard disks, there are problems with this argument as well.

First of all, when downloading, you have the benefit of instantly recieving the file that you need, as opposed to waiting at least a day for your shipment to arrive.

Secondly, remember that bandwidth is probably cheaper than postage. Shipping a carton with a few hard disks and proper insulation would cost at least $30 to overnight it.

Really, the title of the article comes upon the conclusion way too quickily. You must consider much bandwidth the sender and the reciever have. If both have a several gigabit OC line, then perhaps uploading it would be faster.

Re:Well, depends on what way you look at it. (5, Interesting)

tarius8105 (683929) | about 11 years ago | (#6411474)

First of all, when downloading, you have the benefit of instantly recieving the file that you need, as opposed to waiting at least a day for your shipment to arrive.

The average home user still uses a 56k modem, I dont see how it would be faster to transfer a gig on a 56k then priority overnight (much less then 160 gigs).

Secondly, remember that bandwidth is probably cheaper than postage. Shipping a carton with a few hard disks and proper insulation would cost at least $30 to overnight it.

Depends on how you ship and what you ship and the connection the person has.

Really, the title of the article comes upon the conclusion way too quickily. You must consider much bandwidth the sender and the reciever have. If both have a several gigabit OC line, then perhaps uploading it would be faster.

Not all companies can afford an OC line thus shipping would be cheaper.

Re:Well, depends on what way you look at it. (5, Insightful)

captain_craptacular (580116) | about 11 years ago | (#6411482)

Lets see, local cable modem is $39.95 for 5 gigs and $10 a gig past that. So if you can ship 3 160GB HDD's for $30 thats:

160GBX3 = 480GB / $30 = 16 GB/Dollar

Cable modem = 1GB/$10 = 1/10 GB/Dollar

So the mail is cheaper. And probably faster if you consider how long it would take to DL 480GB @ 32KB/sec compared to next day or 2nd day air.

All of that was in the article. (1)

siskbc (598067) | about 11 years ago | (#6411512)

First of all, when downloading, you have the benefit of instantly recieving the file that you need, as opposed to waiting at least a day for your shipment to arrive.

As it says in the article, anything more than say a terabyte will take longer to download at internet speeds that one-day air. You could start the download at the same time your friend sent you the computer, and you would have the computer before the d/l was done.

Secondly, remember that bandwidth is probably cheaper than postage. Shipping a carton with a few hard disks and proper insulation would cost at least $30 to overnight it.

Again, quoting from the article:
JG It's cheaper to send the machine. The phone bill, at the rate Microsoft pays, is about $1 per gigabyte sent and about $1 per gigabyte received--about $2,000 per terabyte. It's the same hassle for me whether I send it via the Internet or an overnight package with a computer. I have to copy the files to a server in any case. The extra step is putting the SneakerNet in a cardboard box and slapping a UPS label on it. I have gotten fairly good at that.

So, not only is shipping cheaper, buying your friend a computer is cheaper.

If both have a several gigabit OC line, then perhaps uploading it would be faster.

Which might be possible if they're in the same building. But then you could unplug the machine and walk it over in 5 minutes, which would be much faster.

Re:Well, depends on what way you look at it. (2, Insightful)

damiam (409504) | about 11 years ago | (#6411526)

Really, the title of the article comes upon the conclusion way too quickily

That's because it's the fucking title. It's supposed to be quick. If you would read the actual article, you would see exactly why it's cheaper in this case to use snail mail.

You must consider much bandwidth the sender and the reciever have. If both have a several gigabit OC line, then perhaps uploading it would be faster.

Just because two parties each have a gigabit line does not mean they can sustain a gigabit throughput over the open Internet. That kind of bandwidth is also extraordinarily expensive.

Yeah, but the latency's pretty bad... (5, Funny)

privaria (583781) | about 11 years ago | (#6411357)

PING privaria.org (64.33.49.48) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from privaria.org (64.33.49.48): icmp_seq=2 ttl=242 time=2 days, 7 hrs, 37 min
64 bytes from privaria.org (64.33.49.48): icmp_seq=1 ttl=242 time=2 days, 17 hrs, 14 min
64 bytes from privaria.org (64.33.49.48): icmp_seq=3 ttl=242 time=3 days, 2 hrs, 41 min

Re:Yeah, but the latency's pretty bad... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | about 11 years ago | (#6411499)

Note this would have the same times:

PING privaria.org (64.33.49.48) 10000000000000 (10000000000028) bytes of data.

Breaking the IP specs about MTU size though.

New RFC! (2, Funny)

twoslice (457793) | about 11 years ago | (#6411523)

Actually the ping will never traverse the same network. The data will go over the postal network and a single ACK will come back over the telephone network. Data loss will occur at unacceptable rates due to the medium (postal service) and ACK loss will be high too (Telco)

New proposed RFC 5433 for postal ACK format:

"Yup, I received your package"

From the interview (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 11 years ago | (#6411358)


Of course, we could put the Library of Congress holdings on it or 10,000 movies

10,000 movies? The MPAA would like to have a word with him..

Re:From the interview (1)

ThePolemarch (653788) | about 11 years ago | (#6411498)

Plus the fact that I want to know the encodes of movies that can fit 10,000 per 200 gigs!

Ping (5, Funny)

felonious (636719) | about 11 years ago | (#6411360)

The ping on a station wagon sucks and don't even get me started on the routes...

Re:Ping (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | about 11 years ago | (#6411461)

Database people, unlike gamers, don't care about latency!

Re:Ping (1)

TheKey (465831) | about 11 years ago | (#6411463)

Probably a more direct route, actually.

HDDs all good (1)

Bob The Lizard (193273) | about 11 years ago | (#6411363)

Yep,
Hard disks :: good, cheap, easy to post and reusable.

Especially if your unable to get real bandwidth.

Re:HDDs all good (1)

homer_ca (144738) | about 11 years ago | (#6411468)

As long as it's just for data transfer and he's keeping backups of the data, I guess good for him, but personally I'd be pretty nervous about shipping damage knowing how package handlers throw around those boxes. Think you did a good job packing? Would you throw the box down a flight of stairs? Remember this story [slashdot.org] ?

I don't know (5, Interesting)

desenz (687520) | about 11 years ago | (#6411364)

The figures, but does the cost of the bandwidth exceed the price of gas?

Eh. Guess it doesn't matter anyway. Its still cooler to be seen driving down the street w/ lots of tapes.

Re:I don't know (1)

desenz (687520) | about 11 years ago | (#6411390)

Sorry. Hard drives. Same idea though, right?

It would be interesting to see the data.. (1)

Osrin (599427) | about 11 years ago | (#6411366)

... on how access bandwidth has grown during the same period. I accept that that bandwidth and storage are out of step but am conscious that I can access a lot more today over the bandwidth that I have than I could several years ago.

Maybe if we had enough data on the growth of each technology we would be able to work out an intersection point, or just accept that they'll never meet.

ArsDigita University (3, Interesting)

jrothlis (223342) | about 11 years ago | (#6411367)

This is how ArsDigita University distributes its course material: http://aduni.org/drives/ [aduni.org]

Sorry. The argument is false (2, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | about 11 years ago | (#6411368)

It's one thing to complain about the lack of growth in bandwidth of current storage (and there is quite a bit of complaining in this article about it), but to think that there is something wrong with having all this data that is theoretically impossible to access because the bandwidth is insufficient is clearly false.

Whether data is ever used or not, it is important to have it. I have tax records from the last 7 years that I never plan on opening. They are stored in a couple shoeboxes in the back of the garage next to the reindeer prods. There may be no reason to hold onto them as I doubt I'd ever get audited, but it's important to know that they are back there.

Data itself is important to have for archive purposes, regardless of whether anyone ever looks at it again.

Re:Sorry. The argument is false (1)

Mikey-San (582838) | about 11 years ago | (#6411491)

If they're in the garage, frequently exposed to the un-nicest of temperatures and humidities, perhaps they're back there, but worthless.

Might wanna bring 'em indoors, bro. ;-)

uhh... (1)

Naikrovek (667) | about 11 years ago | (#6411371)

Back in school we always had a saying, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes."

unless you went to school in the late '60s or early '70s, you copied it from someone else.

i know you're younger than me, and I went to college in the mid-nineties. We didn't say that.

We said "never underestimate the power of magnetism of a beach house and three kegs."

Not only faster, but cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411373)

Overnighting a big hard drive can be a heckuva lot cheaper than paying for a fat pipe to let you transfer 100G in three days.

Bandwidth of a minivan full of CDROMs (2, Interesting)

brentlaminack (513462) | about 11 years ago | (#6411375)

Yes, but what's the bandwidth of a minivan full of CDROMs [laminack.com] ? I get 235 Mb/sec. Enjoy.

Re:Bandwidth of a minivan full of CDROMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411464)

C'mon, mod that up, I actually wet myself reading that!!!

Don't worry mate, even though the editors thought it was only worth a 1, I LOVED IT!!!

I HATE YOUR FACE (-1, Troll)

applecup (683527) | about 11 years ago | (#6411380)

I HATE ALL OF YOUR FACES!!!!

Next on /. (5, Funny)

Wrexen (151642) | about 11 years ago | (#6411382)

This week: You can make a trade-off between latency and throughput!
Next week: Cars that can haul less can be more fuel-effiecent!
The week after: Algorithms that use more memory, but are faster to execute!

Wonders never cease!

Lag (2, Funny)

arevos (659374) | about 11 years ago | (#6411391)

A truck full of harddrives may have some astronomical bandwidth, but the lag on that thing is murder. I tried a few experimental pings:
PING www.google.com (216.239.37.99) from 192.168.0.7 : 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 216.239.37.99: icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=87303012 ms
64 bytes from 216.239.37.99: icmp_seq=2 ttl=51 time=130256230 ms
64 bytes from 216.239.37.99: icmp_seq=3 ttl=51 time=110821205 ms
64 bytes from 216.239.37.99: icmp_seq=4 ttl=51 time=990602128 ms

Only on Slashdot (0, Offtopic)

agent dero (680753) | about 11 years ago | (#6411392)

This must be a real slow news day.

Re:Only on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411453)

...Yeah, the truck must've broken down.

SneakerNet (1)

johny_qst (623876) | about 11 years ago | (#6411393)

Physical transfer of data storage devices will conceivably always be the preferred method of transferring enormous amounts of data in a relatively short timeframe. The throughput for mailing a gross of full DLT tapes overnight is probably a long way from obsolescence, yet there will always be promise in low-latency via a highly specific networking design... trunk a few gigabit ethernet connections together and you can have high bandwidth high throughput low latency transfer of many terabytes of information.

Re:SneakerNet (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411462)

I used to work at an IBM site that was used for offsite back-up by major companies. They have these really cool 38 ton trucks that come into the loading bays, where they just connect up a couple of cables and pump the data off the trucks and into the building.

Basicly they shunt data around, the same way Exxon et al move oil.

Nice Copy And Paste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411394)

Back in school we always had a saying, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes." Seems like that still holds true.

BS! You just read that out of the back of the Hacker's Dictionary. You fraud.

Does a station wagon drive itself? (2, Insightful)

irritating environme (529534) | about 11 years ago | (#6411395)

Kick off transfer, go to sleep. If it takes three more hours, who cares? You aren't burning wet cycles yourself.

And, befitting my moniker, it's better for the environment.

Re:Does a station wagon drive itself? (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | about 11 years ago | (#6411503)

Kick off transfer, go to sleep. If it takes three more hours, who cares?

You rotter! I just crashed my station wagon!

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411402)

I never though of this. Interesting survay. I wish I had an account. Wow! You send a station wagon from Utah to New York, loaded with hard disks, and you achieve a bitrate of 1000 GBps.

Classic exam question. (4, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | about 11 years ago | (#6411406)

On our Distributed Systems final, we had a question about using an airplane full of CDs being used to replace our school's internet connection. The point was the even though the plane offered 10,000 times more bandwitdh, the 80 minute latency meant it wasn't a viable replacement.

Jason
ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]

even better than snail mail (1)

the-build-chicken (644253) | about 11 years ago | (#6411407)

carrier pidgeon...sure, it doesn't get there as quick, but it's great fun attaching hard drives to the feet of pidgeons and dropping them out the window.

The telecom industry is to blame. (5, Insightful)

jdehnert (84375) | about 11 years ago | (#6411411)

Chips have gotten faster. Ram is bigger faster and less expensive. Disk space is dirt cheap.

But the telecom industry is just crawling in comparison. I use the same phone line for dial up now as I did 10 years ago, and things like ISDN, DSL, and Cable Modems get you better performance, but nothing stellar. I don't think a T-1 has really changed in cost for a very long time.

Funny, when the bubble was expanding all the talk was about the bandwidth we were suppored to have access to, but it never made it to my house.

Eschew Obfuscation

Attribution for "that saying". (4, Interesting)

muonzoo (106581) | about 11 years ago | (#6411413)


CowboyNeal writes:
Back in school we always had a saying, "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes." Seems like that still holds true.


That `saying' is from Andrew S. Tannenbaum's [cs.vu.nl] notoriously well written textbook titled simply: "Computer Networks" [amazon.com] .

It was certainly in the 2nd edition, the one I used, and might have even been in the 1st edition. I is still in the latest edition. (One of the young-uns in the office has the 4th edition on his shelf.)

A famous line if ever there was one in the geek world, although perhaps not as humourous as Chairman Bill's:
"640K ought to be enough for anyone [ paraphrased ]".

AOL's Mailing Bandwidth (2, Funny)

Katamai (632113) | about 11 years ago | (#6411414)

Can anyone imagine the bandwidth that AOL is "sending out" with all their worthless CDs. I mean I'm getting about 600megs a day from them. Deliver a batch to Office Depot with a good 1000 CDs and that's some really massive bandwidth.

5 1/4" Floppies (1)

I Like Swords!!! (668399) | about 11 years ago | (#6411417)

So when will those come back in style again, since we're reverting back a century? Hell, when will the 8" floppies be what's "in"?

Complete Dell System with 8, count 'em, 8 inches of floppy disk space for your secondary storage needs!

aka sneaker net. (1)

warriorpostman (648010) | about 11 years ago | (#6411420)

The intra-office version of the "bandwidth of a station wagon" analogy I believe is the Sneaker net. I worked with this ex-navy guy who used to say that every once in a while, and I was hearing that phrase for almost a year before I snapped to and asked...what is this "sneaker" net?

The guy just looks down at my feet.

Does anyone know where the "sneaker" net phrase originated? I'm guessing military/DoD...

Also on smaller scale (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | about 11 years ago | (#6411430)

At college we still use diskettes to transfer data from college to home. Mainly because in this information age, my college network is completely shielded, proxied and protected up to a ridiculous level. (Though still pretty much ineffective) So we cant make outgoing FTP connections to upload stuff to our home computers (if anyone else is crazy enough to run a server at home to start with) and VPN from home to college is most likely out of the question as well since they still use Windows aNTique Server over there.

USB pendrives/keydrives/whatever are slowly becoming more common though; and for a good reason. More sturdy and shock-proof then diskettes, far larger capacity, faster then diskettes as well, doesn't require a burner or any software/drivers in a modern OS... Really neat things, also fastest way to transfer larger amount of data and those nifty little things have a novelty value... :)

it happens (1)

johnraphone (624518) | about 11 years ago | (#6411440)

The fact is that data collection places out in the middle of now where don't often have the bandwidth to transfer large ammounts of data so a car is your easiest way to transfer data.

Not the whole equation (2, Interesting)

Midnight Warrior (32619) | about 11 years ago | (#6411443)

Why does everyone only count bandwidth as the time to do the transport? The same comparison has been made of Netflick. Retrieving from storage and placing it back into a usable format takes time too.

Example: station wagon full of backup tapes. Presumably, you are going to store your data at both locations (onsite and offsite copies). Now count the time mounting each tape and it's target, doing the copy, and returning the original to the car. Yes, even at 15MB/s (LTO drives) it's good, but it's still a long time. Then you need to drive back.

The comparison is useless unless you account for:

  1. Time to prepare for delivery
  2. Transport to the destination
  3. Make data at destination usable (copy)
  4. Return data to original location
  5. (optional)Destroy tape if it was a one way transfer.

Of course, no one said that the data needed to arrive within a specific time as well. If the data is useless 3 hours after it was collected, then all these analogies are useless.

RAIC - Redundant Array of Inexpensive Cars (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411448)

What about giving each car a portion of the data each, and having each of them carry parity information in case one of the cars fails?

One cannot discount... (2, Insightful)

skogs (628589) | about 11 years ago | (#6411449)

the easy access of removable drives. Simply pull it out of your computer, and walk down the hall. Or Simply pull it out, and walk home with it. Very easy way to transport all those important files(work and pRon) home with you. If you don't have a OC3 line at your house, it definitely is better to carry the drive with you than download it.

Honestly, there is never a substitute for remote archives and such in case of a fire or something.

I am suddenly reminded of this... (1)

madmarcel (610409) | about 11 years ago | (#6411454)

There was an article on /. on the maximum physical speed possible for CD's and DVD's,
seems appropriate here...

Ah...here it is:
exploding cd's [slashdot.org]

Latency? (2, Funny)

kafer (21812) | about 11 years ago | (#6411456)

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes."

Yeah, but the latency will kill you!

Re:Latency? (2, Funny)

servoled (174239) | about 11 years ago | (#6411504)

Latency?
I'd be much more worried about the braking distance required to stop.

Reminds me of the old times of Amiga demoscene (4, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | about 11 years ago | (#6411458)

...when the modems were scarce and phone bills high. Every more or less respectable demoscene group had a member whose function was listed as "swapper".

Swappers would get in contact with swappers from other groups, and exchange floppies full of newest stuff, productions, news, and everything of any interest (plus some exotic stuff other than floppies - a chicken bone, The Party membership ID, misprinted train tickets, and whatever interesting that caught the eye and filled the envelope up to (but not above) another price-weight treshold.)

One of the most specific swapper activities was "faking stamps". With 80 and more contacts, at least one letter a month exchanged with each of them, you had to cut on stamp prices, so you smeared the stamp with water-washable glue and wrote in the letter "stamps back", so your contact ripped your stamps off the envelope and sent you in his reply letter together with floppies. Then some washing and stamps could be reused - one set of stamps could go the same way 5-6 times before they needed to be replaced because they started looking suspect. And if it was found - you never put return address on the envelope and nobody in the post office could ever read an Amiga floppy :)

Another practice was making the floppies sent pretty. You almost never sent back the same floppies - they were in constant flow. Adding a marker signature was the default. Often some sticker or a drawing was common. But there were true masterpieces: A floppy painted gold, with the metal part (and under it) painted silver, the metal part without the spring but removable and attached with a thin chain to the write-protect hole, so you removed it before inserting and it was hanging from your floppy drive while the floppy was inside.

And finally all the "disk hunt" methods. Famous swappers were rarely replying to newbies who were asking for contact - you had to gain some fame on the scene with your group's productions - or get a recommendation from another swapper. So - the unanswered letters were a good supply of floppies. Sometimes they would even put an ad in some zine (spread by swapp of course ;) which said a girl wants to swap, everyone welcome etc. This was bringing a good deal of free floppies, often with some quite funny stuff on them.

Well, Internet was what put end to it. Plus average data size - sending 6-8 floppies in one letter wasn't cheap or easy anymore, and with A1200 getting more common, high-level languages, multi-disk demos and mpeg movies, it became necessity...

Nowadays still throwing a CD across a computer lab is way faster than transferring the data over the net :)

I disagree. In China, network is fast. (2, Insightful)

Fu Ling-Yu (688545) | about 11 years ago | (#6411475)

Shipping disc by air or boat is quickly way to go between two countries, but inside country bandwidth is good enough to not need to send discs. In China (an example) we install software on school PCs from central location (Ministry of Information in capital city) but do over the internet. It's fast because we have fibre-optic links country wide for data distributions.

Obviously, this is bad idea if want to send gigabites to America or Europe because of the bad connects you have with China, but inside country, internal network is much faster than sending disc, unless you want to send 1000s of hard disc at a time!

Sneakernet (1)

whorfin (686885) | about 11 years ago | (#6411477)

Don't be too quick to dis' Sneakernet. Sometimes it is the only viable choice!

I have personally experienced this, on a much more minor scale. Just because one has a high speed connection does not mean that you have a point-to-point high speed throughput.

I was trying to download the redhat distro, and due to the server throttling the throughput, it was going to take 48 hours to download all of the ISOs. I made an economic decision that driving 10 minutes to Best Buy to spend $40 on the boxed set to get it immediately was 'cheaper' in terms of overall cost.

well no shit sherlock-dot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6411487)

you needed an entire article to figure this one
out?

you people are a pack of ass-ramming assholes

as always - choke on your own vomit, please

Ram becomes Disks and Disks become tape... (3, Interesting)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | about 11 years ago | (#6411494)

If you RTA, it sounds like based on current advances, in 10 years we'll be at the point where disks are so large 920 TB each) that access will have to become sequential (making them like tape today, access speeds not increasing as fast).

That would leave room for RAM to essentially become used for random access in the way the disks are used today and perhaps current cache on the CPU to be used more like RAM is today?

A lot of wire-speed net devices are starting to look like this, with their info stored in a non-volatile storage device, but loaded into RAM on startup and all "work" done in ram.

It's easy to image a whole chain reaction of purposes for devices slipping into other functions as a result of varying levels of technological advancement in them.

Best quote from the interview? (4, Interesting)

ralphclark (11346) | about 11 years ago | (#6411506)

The academic world has had a common operating system that everybody can talk about and experiment with... It has the downside of creating a mob culture.
Hey, he can't talk about us like that, can he?

And it's also cheaper!! (1)

fr00dy (580649) | about 11 years ago | (#6411515)

At least if you live in Australia...

Downloading 8gigs from Perth to Sydney with everyones favourite isp (Telstra) is more expensive than buying return ticket to Perth (about the same distance as LA to NY)

Less ambiguous headlines please (1)

TCM (130219) | about 11 years ago | (#6411516)

"How can mailing be faster than uploading? My mail server is uploading.. oh, now I get it."

It shows that "broadband" is too $ and too slow. (1)

thenarftwit (575271) | about 11 years ago | (#6411517)

This article points out that fact that we do not get very good bandwith today for what we pay for, and also, that we pay far too much for what bandwitdh that we do get.......

complete computer systems? (1)

neoform (551705) | about 11 years ago | (#6411522)

"even complete computer systems, packed full of disks"

Umm.. why would you pack a computer full of disks? hows that gonna help anything?

errr (1)

jr87 (653146) | about 11 years ago | (#6411531)

they also fail to mention the possibility of these hard disks getting lost or stolen. Or better yet the station wagon getting stolen by some idiot...

another problem. (1)

2MuchC0ffeeMan (201987) | about 11 years ago | (#6411536)

if i send a million 1 megabyte files out, those one million files are instantly read at the destination(s) ... (i won't even get into the fact that, that one word SHOULD be pluralized). anyway, if you load up a caravan with cds, don't forget to add the time of burning all the cds, and reading all the cds.

why was this even a story? unless you do hard drives, this is pointless.

the bigger problem is, people need a more efficent way of storing files.

if you're sending terabytes of info, how much of that info is duplicated on every transfer?
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