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    • 48 CDW•G Start-to-Finish The latest installment of Start-to-Finish, IT a series of briefs on pertinent technologies. k n o w how works t o Portable Storage n e e d No longer just a fad, portable storage devices have become an important part of small- to mid-size organization storage strategy. Portable data storage solutions vary in structure, size and capacity, but all serve the function of physically storing data on a movable device that is external to the computer. m a k e r s I ncredibly easy to use, the newest entries in the category of portable storage devices are small in size but large in capacity. Ranging in size from a small keychain fob that’s about the same size as a pack of gum to the size of a paperback novel, these portable storage devices use LaCie and Iomega are among the vendors that produce small portable FireWire hard drives. Maxtor offers its OneTouch family of external drives with the option for either FireWire or USB interface. Flash drives, such as the Lexar JumpDrive and the SanDisk Cruzer Mini, use the mass storage class drivers and are relatively inexpensive. USB interface. USB 2.0 is the latest version of the USB How can so much storage fit on such a small piece of specification and supports data transfer rates of up to equipment? 480Mbps. Portable storage devices work by plugging them into a d e c i s i o n Form Factor computer with any of the more recent operating systems, Form factors (an industry term that identifies the physical including Mac OS X, Windows 2000 or Windows XP. size and shape of a device) for storage have been For earlier systems, such as Windows 98, the drive may shrinking. In 1956, IBM introduced the first hard drive, require that you install vendor software. which consisted of 50 24-inch disks and stored 5MB of data. Today, we can store 100 times as much data on a flash drive that is the size of a thumbnail. Flash Technology Mike Kuppinger, digital media product manager for Flash drives, which hit the marketplace in 2002, can Kingston Technology Company, Inc., explains the reason currently store up to 2GB. What puts the flash in a flash behind the innovation. “Shrinking form factors are an drive? They are definitely different than hard disk drives ongoing evolution,” he says. “Manufacturers continue to because there are no moving parts in a flash drive. Instead, reduce the die size and increase the density of the medium, they use flash memory (the same kind of digital memory which reduces their costs and enables them to offer the you find in today’s digital cameras), a silicon microchip I T components at a lower cost.” that is sometimes called “flash RAM.” This is memory designed to hold its contents when power to the chip is USB or FireWire eliminated. Most portable storage devices connect to PCs via a USB It can be erased and reprogrammed in blocks instead w h a t (universal serial bus) or FireWire port. FireWire became of one byte at a time, or in a “flash.” Since there are no an official standard (IEEE 1394) in 1995 and is based moveable parts, flash drives are more durable than disk on interface technology originally developed by Apple. It drives. In fact, as a test of that endurance, Kuppinger says supports data transfer rates of up to 400Mbps. that flash drives can fall 10 to 15 feet without damage.
    • CDW•G Start-to-Finish 49 Taking Pressure Off the LAN Portable storage is great for moving huge files around the office. Paul Streit, a senior solutions marketing manager at Maxtor, says that portable storage eases the organization’s storage burden. USB Flash Drive “E-mail boxes fill up pretty quickly, and IS groups are budget conscious, so they put the squeeze on how much storage you get Comparison and how large a file you can send. With anything over 10MB, A USB flash drive is a compact memory drive that can act as a portable especially if you are talking about 50MB or 100MB, e-mail hard drive, allowing you to easily store and trasnport data. About the size of a pack of gum, USB flash drives let you transport client becomes less and less practical,” Streit says. presentations, bring in work from home or carry thousands of photos. External hard drives, which have shrunk to the size of a paperback Because USB ports are more common than CD or DVD drives, USB drives will work in most computers. But how do they compare with other book, can also conveniently transport large files. According to storage devices? Streit, they fit into a briefcase and are an excellent solution for agency or department work groups for moving extremely large files Floppy disks can’t compare to off the LAN. They also get extensive use by creative professionals Floppy Disk USB flash drives, which offer more storage in a smaller working in photography, video, graphic design and architecture package and also don’t require any special drives. as well as for large prepress design files or engineers’ CAD files. Zip drives aren’t standard on most desktops, so transferring Zip Drive data can become complicated. Not Just a Storage Device USB drives, however, are quite common and don’t require extra hardware. “One of the most beautiful features I’ve seen is using USB flash Optical storage is great long term, but can be easily drives as a configuration key with Windows Connect Now,” says Optical scratched. USB drives are sturdy, Storage resiliant when dropped and can Steffen Hellmold, president of the USB Flash Drive Alliance (UFDA). have data added or deleted as often as needed. He explains that the Windows XP Service Pack 2 configuration External hard drives are great utility allows you to use a USB flash drive to configure a wireless External for backing up large amounts Hard Drive of data, but are shock sensitive LAN. (See “Service Pack 2” story on page 74.) due to internal moving parts and are also not as portable. You can plug in a USB flash drive, run Windows Connect Now Flash memory cards, which are to propagate the WLAN settings, including SSID (service set Flash often used in electronic devices Memory such as digital cameras, can identifier), WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) Key, etc., to your USB Card work in conjunction with USB drives. flash drive. Then you can plug the USB flash drive into the other devices you want to make part of your wireless LAN. Any wireless- enabled computer running Windows XP can use that same portable device to seamlessly configure either computers or headless devices, such as wireless access points or printers, to the network. IT A nalysts forecast that the worldwide market for USB flash drives could reach $4.5 billion in 2006. Their inexpensive getting right cost, ranging from $16 for a 32MB flash drive to slightly more than $300 for a 300GB external drive, has been driving this popularity. With numbers like these, portable storage grabs attention, Portable Storage though not all of it positive. In fact, Gartner analysts released a popular study in 2004 that highlighted the security risks posed by portable storage devices, including introduction of malicious code into the organization’s network, theft of proprietary information Portable storage devices, now available and exposure of confidential data if the devices are lost or stolen. at reasonable prices, are popping up everywhere. When used in a controlled Security First manner, USB flash drives and larger In the past, the security risks of using portable storage devices portable storage drives can serve may have been underestimated. Organizations should evaluate portable storage use in their own environment and develop a useful functions for small- to mid-size security policy to govern colleagues’ use of the drives. Some organizations and agencies. organizations choose an outright ban and disable the USB ports on all computers. However, many organizations and agencies have
    • 50 CDW•G Start-to-Finish k n o w Portable Storage g Security Security urity concluded that portable storage devices have a place in the work computing environment, and instead of simply banning them altogether, allow their use on a controlled By allowing coworkers and guests to have unauthorized and basis, adding security where needed. uncontrolled use of portable storage devices, companies are exposing themselves to serious breaches of security. General security measures Gartner recommends using personal firewalls to limit can apply to the wide spectrum of portable storage devices. They let you take advantage of their benefits, activity on USB ports. Other software solutions allow but prevent their unrestrained use. administrators to control ports selectively. The USB Flash t o Drive Alliance also recommends that users run a virus scan on the contents of the drives before accessing any files. Current antivirus software will automatically scan media upon detecting it, whether it is a USB flash drive or n e e d a USB hard drive. Built-in Security Features Flash drive manufacturers have taken steps to increase Manage port access Protect proprietary information with security on the devices as well. More devices with built-in with tools such as Implement a specific digital rights personal firewalls, security features are hitting the marketplace. The most host-based intrusion security policy, with management software, which prevention products ongoing training and common feature is the ability to set a password for the and mobile data review, to increase helps control security awareness files sent through device. This level of protection satisfies the basic security protection products m a k e r s among employees. e-mail or shared to encrypt through the requirements for many companies. corporate data. company network. By 2006, USB flash drive manufacturers want to be in a position to offer administrators control over users who are outside the organization’s IT policy. “The solutions “Portable storage devices save time, and they’re faster for making a secure environment, in combination with compared to burning a CD or DVD. Many flash devices systems and USB flash drives, are under development,” are rated for 100,000 rewrites, which means you could says Hellmold. “The USB Flash Drive Alliance is moving use it everyday for five years and not even come close to forward on standards.” wearing it out,” Streit says. “Price point has really made it happen. The fact that you can have a useful amount of storage for 20 bucks has turned out to be a winning Simple Backup System combination.” d e c i s i o n While not meant as a replacement for long-term archival IT backup, a benefit of portable drives is their use as backup for a desktop or critical data. According to Streit, “Many IT organizations just don’t have the IT infrastructure to reach down to the desktop level for backups, especially when there are remote offices that are geographically How CDW•G Does dispersed. It can be much more efficient to have a single drive for backup than to try to reach out in a statewide Portable Storage area or for a company with many remote employees.” As for Maxtor’s OneTouch drives, which offer a push- CDW•G has hundreds of portable button approach to data backup, Streit adds, “We really storage choices from best-of-breed designed it to be usable for the nontechnical user. The user can easily schedule automatic backups on a set schedule. vendors as well as a variety of security products to protect the I T Using two drives, you can have rotating backups so you can keep an offsite copy.” LAN and the desktop. CDW•G helps keep you aware of new storage Future of Portable Storage technologies and capabilities. We w h a t Although removable media such as floppies and DVDs remain an alternative, especially for mailing files, Streit know today’s mobile workforce believes there is a growing need for portable storage drives needs the right mobile technology. in the small- to mid-size organization work environment.
    • CDW•G Start-to-Finish 51 Evolution of Storage In the mid-1800s, In 1967, the first punch cards are used In 1956, IBM floppy disk is built, We now have a to provide input to released RAMAC, at 8 inches. More In 1994, Zip wide variety of early calculators and the first magnetic floppy disks arrive drives are other machines. storage solutions hard disk for data in 5.25 inches and introduced. available. From 1950 tape drives storage, which 3.5 inches. external hard drives, replace punch soon becomes the flash memory cards cards. Only a few standard. It used and USB flash drives, years later, magnetic 50 24-inch disks In 1983, the first hard we are able to In the 1940s, drive disk becomes a vacuum tubes drums appear. They to store 5MB and store large amounts retrieve data faster, cost $35,000 per PC standard. The of data in several were used for CD-ROM is developed storage. but store less. year to lease. devices. this year as well. Array of Vendors lock-down USB ports while enabling selected users to plug in a CDW•G has a variety of storage solutions available ranging from USB flash drive, connect a smartphone or handheld, download external hard drives and flash memory cards to USB flash drives. or upload data from a digital camera or access CDs or floppies. Symantec’s personal firewalls also help limit the exposure from Vendors include EDGE, Fujifilm, Imation, Iomega, Kingston, USB and FireWire portable devices. LaCie, Lexar, Maxtor, SanDisk, Seagate, SimpleTech, Sony, CDW•G can help develop these security policies, as well Targus, Viking, Western Digital and many others. as recommend hardware and software solutions that decrease The new products offered by these vendors are able to store administration overhead, increase productivity and deliver increasingly large amounts of data in an array of devices. rapid ROI. For example, Sony’s GigaVault Portable HardDisk Media puts 40GB of storage capacity into a shock-absorbing, pocket- sized drive that’s less than an inch thick. Its scalable design lets Dedicated to Government you add more capacity or additional adapters and it features a CDW•G is solely dedicated to serving our government customers. rechargeable battery. Government organizations and agencies have diverse and complex infrastructures that require custom solutions. Our customers’ needs are different from state to state, agency to agency, department to Managing Security department and person to person. Often, companies focused on As useful as portable storage devices are, security should come the private sector and corporate customers are hesitant to take first. Gartner noted that industry best practices include adopting on government customers because of purchasing restrictions or a suitable security policy for using portable storage devices, requirements. However, CDW•G continues to invest the time and incorporating tools to help manage port access of USB and resources, offering many long-term benefits to our government FireWire drives and installing personal firewalls to limit what can customers. be done on USB ports. CDW•G not only gives you expert knowledge, but we give it to CDW•G offers several security tools including network port- you quickly. Your CDW•G team will cover all the bases from start management solutions. Security software like GFI’s LANguard to finish. When you need information and advice regarding your Portable Storage Control allows agencies and organizations to technology, CDW•G can deliver. Ask about CDW•G warranty uplifts and extensions to ensure ongoing product performance.