Storage at the edge is an expression that refers to data storage and backup routines used in portable and mobile computing. The term applies especially to enterprises with field employees who keep sensitive information on notebook and handheld computers.
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A notebook computer has a hard drive on which valuable or proprietary company files and programs may be stored. Employees do not always remember to back up this data manually. Thus, a means is needed to automatically back up data at regular intervals, or whenever the computer is connected to the corporate network. Such connections often rely on dial-up Internet access, so storage time is a factor. The best schemes back up only those files, or portions of files, that have changed since the previous backup session. If the information is sensitive, encryption may be needed. A number of vendors offer automatic backup solutions.
Handheld computers, also known as personal digital assistants (PDAs), use different backup and mass storage methods. One common method of backup is to connect, or "cradle," the PDA in a desktop or notebook computer on a daily basis. This synchronizes the files between the larger computer and the PDA, and stores the PDA data on the larger computer. Another method uses solid-state storage. Flash-memory modules are available that can store dozens of megabytes on a stick about the size of a person's index finger. Server-based synchronization can also be used, in which the PDA is connected to a network and the data stored on a central server. This type of synchronization also allows the network manager to delete unnecessary or improper files and programs from handheld computers in the field.