Of course it is possible to travel with a few dozen virtual machines! After looking at the stack of external USB and eSATA harddisks I use to travel with essential materials I just had to take a picture of it. Sorry about the quality that isn’t up to snuff but I used the iPhone to take the snap.
Over the past year people have asked me, “when you have so much local storage, how do you decide what you travel with and how do you carry it with you”. Well, the picture here probably says more than a thousand words. Not that I couldn’t write a thousand words on it, if I really wanted to. And no, it is not a joke. I really do travel with 22 external HDD’s (over 13TB of storage).
Since I travel with the Clevo D900F “laptop” (ahum, sort of, mobile luggable workstation) I also travel with enough storage and data that if I need to grab a VM and do a quick fix on a bug somewhere, I can do so without having to wait until I can return to the larger workstations.
The current “travel batch” of disks consist of various brands because I usually get them as-needed but most are either Western Digital, Samsung, or Seagate’s in external enclosures that I just put together myself. The collection at this time are 8 x 1TB (USB), 6 x 500GB (USB), 2 x 500GB (eSATA 7200rpm), 4 x 320GB (USB), 2 x 160GB (USB).
Why so many? For the most part because I take a lot with me ranging from (encrypted) business data and mission critical data as well as quite a few development VM’s but also because I travel with my data in a redundant fashion. That is to say, I don’t have one set of files on one disk only, I have exact copies of those disks. So each external disk is a copy of another. Imagine a disk failure on a 1TB disk. That’s no fun. Especially if you can’t easily get to the data at any given point (or location) at any given time.
I would definitely advise everyone to do the same. If you travel and need to take important data and files with you, don’t cheap-out and go for double the backup. Anyone who has had a drive failure while traveling will know why spending a few extra bucks can save you a lot more in the long run when there’s a failure.
Cloud storage is not an option for me. I have never been a fan of storing important data somewhere where you don’t have any control over it. Recent revelations regarding, for example, DropBox, are only further proving my point. Would I ever trust a cloud storage service with business critical data of mine and my clients? No way! Even if I apply my own compression and encryption to it? Maybe but I’d still rather not.
Of course when you’re talking about the amount of data I travel with, cloud storage isn’t an option anyway. What am I going to do when I need to get 100MB of data from an external HD along with a 30GB virtual machine to work on the data? Download it via whatever crummy internet connection I might be hooked onto when traveling? And waste how much time doing that? Cloud storage can be useful, within reason, as long as you know what the drawbacks are and how much data you wish to put at risk.