How to ship a data filled hard drive to a cloud storage company?

Cloud storage companies leading in the market are offering a service, where users can ship data filed hard drives to their premises in order to upload that data to the cloud storage platform. This helps the user in getting all the data backed up to the cloud within few hours (depends on the amount of data), and saves them from the cost driven bandwidth troubles and management issues, which would have otherwise cropped up, if they maintained the data meant for archival or backup for disaster recovery on their premises.

But can a company running with a data intensive objective ship the data filled drives in boxes which are filled with Styrofoam?

Do you think that the said packing is enough to keep the drives safe and secure from any kind of shocks? To know the right answer to this question, let’s get technically deep into it.

Basically, hard disks are fragile in two ways- first, all the alignments are critical in a lot of the assemblies in the drive. Therefore, any misalignment of disks or the spindle even by a thousandth inch can make the whole hard drive become just a paperweight directing to a data loss. Secondly, the recording heads are also fragile, where a slight shock and vibration can cause them to ping up and down the disk, causing cracking of the ferrite material.

So, how to pack the data filled hard drive and ship to the cloud storage provider?

First of all, one should assume the worst will happen, before arranging the package material for the drive. Start by bagging and sealing the drive in a zip lock packet, as it can keep water and dust away from the drive, if in case, anything worse happens.

Next, wrap the drive in packaging material before adding multiple layer of cardboard, with spacers between layers. You can use Youtube for further assistance on this note. Then use foam insets available from performed shapes to injected foam to hold the boxed drive in place.

Note- do not use soft foam on this note.

Now, get the whole package transferred into an outer box. It should be considerably larger than the drive box itself to allow for shock dissipation; use a box with double-walled, sturdy construction.

Obviously, packing rules change if you’re shipping a set of hard drives. Create foam inserts with slots for the boxed or bagged drives to fit into, and then ship the bunch of drives in one outer box to your data archive location.

Now, comes the crucial part. Labeling is vital in order to protect the hard drives from improper handling. This even prevents the mailing guys throwing the package at your doorstep, if it was a fresh HDD order made to Amazon by a normal home user.

Always put a shock label or a label which has “Fragile electronic equipment” sticker written on it. But agree that this can increase the chances of the package getting stolen.

Some big branded companies which do shipping, instead put code words/numbers like Thomas- the toy train or another low value product name on the label which only the shipping agents know via training.

And if data merits, using a solid state drive makes complete sense, as these drives can take normal shocks and vibrations, which HDDs aren’t used to. Also packing them can be much easy as they fit into lighter and smaller boxes easily. Also, shipping a 2.5 inches SSD/S in just an express envelop filled with thermocol peanuts is easy, than tiring out packing a bunch of hard drives.

So, what’s your move then?


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