I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little overburdened these days by the amount of information available to me. Call it "information anxiety" or "too much press stress." It's clear that this ubiquitous set of circumstances has resulted in not enough time in a day and not enough days in the year for us to do what we want to do. The best we can do is save what we know until we have the time to give it the attention it deserves; thus, the topic of our discussion.

Offline Storage Tools

Today, there are a number of ways to save files and data. For associative purposes, however, think of large files such as CAD drawings, 100-page RFP's, and outdated contracts.

Currently, one of the best ways to save files is to burn them onto a CD via a CD-R Writer or burner. We say burn, because the CD writer literally burns data onto a CD via a laser. With a CD-R you can record data to a CD only once. If you decide that you want to re-record over previously recorded material, you will need a CD-RW writer; with RW standing for re-writeable.

Each type requires its own special media. Storage limits range from 650 megabytes (MB) to 750 MB. An acceptable CD-R / RW writer should read at 24x max and write at 6x max. Anything less is inefficient for business. CD's will generally last 100 years or more and as you know, are virtually indestructible. A good CD writer will cost you between $200 and $400 depending on brand and speed. Hewlett-Packard, Ricoh, and Yamaha all make high-quality burners. The only downturn to burners is the time it takes, an average of 15 to 30 minutes. Despite the poor transfer rate, CD burners are easy to install and still the best way to store information offline.

Another method of popular offline storage is via a high capacity floppy disk. Iomega and its line of Zip drives have this market locked up. Iomega's 100 MB and 250 MB Zip drives and disks allow you to move, share, and backup information right from your computer. Not enough space you say? Well, Iomega also makes a 1 gigabyte (GB) and 2 GB storage platform called Jaz. These drives and accompanying disks provide high capacity removable storage for larger files at speeds matching many existing hard drives. Equally, they have decent transfer rates and are fairly easy to install.

In general, backup and recording speeds for Iomega drives are fast compared to CD's. A Zip drive will run you about $90, where a Jaz drive will go for around $300.

The one negative to the Iomega floppy disk solution is the cost. On average, a CD-RW disk will cost you around $1.60 (you will pay less for a plain CD-R). A 250 MB Zip disk is about $10.00. A Jaz disk is $120.00! As you can see, CD's are a much more economical and effective way to store information. The Jaz disks work great, but are only economical for daily mass backups.

Around the Web

Online storage tools. Two new sites that cater specifically to online file and data storage are juston.com (www.juston.com) and bigvault.com (www.bigvault.com). Juston.com actually resembles the Microsoft Windows interface. It uses pull-down menus and a dynamic sharing structure that allows you to publish files without forcing you to copy or move them around. Very easy!

Bigvault is a little tougher to get a grasp of, as the interface is not as intuitive. Registration is free for juston.com, as is the 50 MB of global storage just for signing up. However, nowhere on the site could I find information on how to increase or buy more storage capacity. Bigvault.com on the other hand is a full pay site. For $24/year, you can receive 200 MB of online storage plus an additional 300 MB for free by using a Dealer Vault Card available at local merchant shops and computer stores.

The premise with both of these sites is that you can now store any sort of document on the Web for others to grab at anytime from any location, as long as you/they have an Internet connection. No more 10-MB e-mail attachments or FedEx packages being sent back and forth. Use them when traveling, or when you're coordinating a large set of documents that others need to see. You will wonder how you ever did without it. ES