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How To Add 5.5 Petabytes and Get Banned From Costco 273

concealment writes with this extract from GigaOm: "'We buy lots and lots of hard drives . . . . [They] are the single biggest cost in the entire company.' Those are the words of Backblaze Founder and CEO Gleb Budman, whose company offers unlimited cloud backup for just $5 a month, and fills 50TB worth of new storage a day in its custom-built, open source pod architecture. So one might imagine the cloud storage startup was pretty upset when flooding in Thailand caused a global shortage on internal hard drives last year. Backblaze details much the process in a Tuesday-morning blog post, including the hijinks that followed as the company got creative trying to figure out ways around the new hard drive limits. Maps were drawn, employees were cut off from purchasing hard drives at Costco — both in-person throughout Silicon Valley and online (despite some great efforts to avoid detection, such as paying for hard drives online using gift cards) — and friends and family across the country were conscripted into a hard-drive-buying army."
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How To Add 5.5 Petabytes and Get Banned From Costco

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:03AM (#41596659) Journal
    There was flooding in Thailand. Factories were disturbed. This company tried to grab as much of the drives already in the pipeline as it could.
  • Skip the blogspam (Score:5, Informative)

    by maztuhblastah ( 745586 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:03AM (#41596667) Journal

    Hear the story direct from Backblaze [] (bonus: goes into more detail).

  • Internet Archive (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr_leviathan ( 653441 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:28AM (#41596929)

    Several months ago I met someone from the Internet Archive ( who told a similar story. The weren't expanding their storage at the same pace as Backblaze, but they were also resorting to shucking external drives to build their rack mounted servers.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:31AM (#41596963)

    Maybe they just wanted to prevent racketeering: a company buying up a temporarily rare commodity (making it even rarer) and reselling at a huge mark-up. Maybe Costco thought this unregulated free market needed some self regulation to help it remain healthy.

  • by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:46AM (#41597131) Homepage

    some hard drives (western digital, iirc) are now sold without the sata interface on the drive itself, for external models.

    you rip it apart, and find out that you can't stick it onto a sata port...

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:49AM (#41597155) Homepage

    Yeah. I'll bet they're not even using oxygen-free SATA cables either.

    Who cares what they store it on? What's important is it adequately checked for consistency, and what are the backups like. Everything else is detail.

    Guess what. Google bought off-the-shelf computer gear for years and some datacentres run things without "datacentre grade" cooling. They don't suffer because a) they do it properly (i.e. not RELY on those drives to never fail) and b) nobody notices because the service is still more than good enough.

    "Enterprise"-grade drives are just warrantied for longer. It doesn't mean they won't die just as quickly. Like "RAID"-grade drives - same drive as every other one on the production lines.

    It's like saying you can't use Intel Mobile chips in a datacenter. It might not be your first choice, but provided they fulfil all their service obligations (which includes response times, failover, etc.) then who notices and who cares?

    Every single server I've ever installed used "consumer grade" drives. Every single desktop I've ever installed used "consumer grade" drives. Failures are actually FAR BELOW any stated MTBF and, who cares, because it takes seconds to replace and DOES NOT AFFECT THE OVERALL SERVICE for the user. And no-one I've worked for has ever lost data because of a drive failure. Ever. Even when servers have all but caught fire.

  • by AlgUSF ( 238240 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @11:52AM (#41597187) Homepage

    Honestly, I wouldn't think twice about doing the same thing. They are purchasing the drives, not stealing them. For "some reason" costco is buying them in lots where they can distribute them at that price. I guess they were just leveraging Costco and Best Buy's buying power to keep their business afloat.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Tuesday October 09, 2012 @03:39PM (#41599877) Homepage
    Yes, I'm a photographer and I have 5TB of storage in my computer and I use Backblaze. I recently had a 1TB hard drive die (controller failure). So I began to restore to my ample space on my other drives. The problem I ran into is that the restore file only gets hosted for 7 days and then deleted. So in order to restore I have to break up the restore into smaller bites and download them one at a time. My other option is that they will ship me an external 1TB drive for $189. I'm not on my fourth file download of the restore. I'll get all my files back but its a serious pain.

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.