Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Tune a NAS for Direct-from-Server Editing of 5K Video

At 45 Drives, we make really large capacity storage servers. When we first started out, our machines were relatively slow, and focused on cold-to-lukewarm storage applications; but our users pushed us to achieve more performance and reliability. This drove the evolution of our direct-wired architecture, which delivers enterprise level speed (read/write in excess of 3 Gigabytes/second) and reliability, without losing the simplicity and price point. 

All this extra speed made our Storinator servers highly suitable for a number of new applications, one of which is video editing. This field has seen its storage needs explode in recent years, and hugely benefit from our incredible capacity and density. Organizations have used them to centralize their storage, but the speed has opened up a whole new opportunity, namely to edit directly from the central server, rather than download and work off of internal hard drives. This saves time formerly required for transferring files to and from the workstation, but also can take place at a performance level higher than can be achieved from a single local drive (mechanical or SSD).

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Redundant FreeNAS Boot Drives on the Storinator!


At 45 Drives, the FreeNAS network attached storage operating system is a popular choice to run our high performance massive storage pods. It combines the advantages of the modern ZFS copy on write file system, with the simplicity of a purpose-built GUI driven NAS appliance shell.

Until today, whenever a customer received a Storinator running FreeNAS it would be configured with a bootable single USB stick that held the FreeNAS OS, and two SSDs configured as a backup of your FreeNAS configuration. In the unlikely event that the boot stick died, you simply had to plug in a new one (which could be created using the instructions and image on our wiki), and copy the configuration, and you're up and going again.

But a number of customers requested that we ship our FreeNAS Storinator pods with a mirrored install of FreeNAS directly on the SSDs, and use the USB stick as the NAS configuration backup. I have to admit, it really did make a lot of sense to me, so we did it!

Essentially we are flipping the old setup upside down. Instead of a single install backing up to mirrored devices we have a mirrored install backing up to a single USB.

ADVANTAGES

We feel that this new set-up has a couple advantages over the old way.
  • FreeNAS will boot faster.
    • FreeNAS is quite verbose during its start up, and combined with the slow throughput of the USB stick, booting up the pod took ages compared to today's world where SSD boot drives are taking over.
  • FreeNAS is safer.
    • FreeNAS is designed so that one boot SSD can fail while its mirror keeps you up and running. You simply pop in a new SSD, and once the mirror is rebuilt, you are protected again. So this gives you maximum uptime.  
    • PLUS your configuration is still being backed up! This could come in handy if you experience catastrophic failure of both SSDs, or the ever present risk of human error.
    • For more info on the Configuration Backup, check out our wiki.
EXISTING CUSTOMERS

For existing customers running FreeNAS that want to use the new set up discussed here, have no fear, as you can switch over and be up and running like nothing happened in about 30 minutes!

The complete process will be outlined on our wiki: HERE.

But here's a quick overview:
  1. Migrate all your config backups to somewhere not on the NAS, as we have to blow out the SSDs
  2. Follow our OS restoration procedure to install FreeNAS onto one of the SSDs.
  3. Plug in the freshly restored SSD the second SSD and the USB thumb drive. Ideally, get a separate USB stick than your current boot device just to be safe. It should be at least 4GB.
  4. Boot into FreeNAS, attach the second SSD to create a mirror and then create a pool called “backup” using the USB thumb drive.
  5. Import your storage pool(s) and then upload your old configuration.
  6. Get back to work!
Thank you for continually providing feedback on how we can improve our products for you, our customers. We take pride in listening to our customers, so if you have any other suggestions on how we can make our products more efficient for you, please don't hesitate to send us an email

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Guest Post- "Finding the Right NAS Operating System - If There is Just One"



Thomas Kay founded Tom's Computer Support in 2001 with the goal of providing the type of professional IT support larger companies enjoy to small businesses in Pennsylvania.  Applying his experience working in marketing, sales, as well as IT at many local companies, Thomas quickly built a reputation as being a knowledgeable and trustworthy IT industry expert. He shares his expertise on a range of current IT topics via his blog at tomscomputersupport.com. Watch this space over the next few weeks as Thomas chronicles his experience building out his NAS using a Storinator from 45 Drives.




GUEST POST: Thomas Kay's first blog post explained how his new 45 Drives Storinator is more than capable of solving the painful problem of storage expansion. In his latest blog post , Thomas discusses the options for finding the right NAS operating system for his new 45 Drives hardware. Check out the article that gives an in-depth look at the criteria involved with choosing the right NAS OS and a look at the pros and cons between using the different OS options that are available.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Guest Post - "The Problem of Storage"

Thomas Kay founded Tom's Computer Support in 2001 with the goal of providing the type of professional IT support larger companies enjoy to small businesses in Pennsylvania.  Applying his experience working in marketing, sales, as well as IT at many local companies, Thomas quickly built a reputation as being a knowledgeable and trustworthy IT industry expert. He shares his expertise on a range of current IT topics via his blog at tomscomputersupport.com. Watch this space over the next few weeks as Thomas chronicles his experience building out his NAS using a Storinator from 45 Drives.



GUEST POST: Thomas Kay, founder of Tom's Computer Support, brings his expertise to the 45 Drives Blog by discussing the challenge IT professionals face when balancing the accessibility of content for our users, while also managing the storage needs of the organization in a manner that is fiscally responsible. In his first article, Thomas discusses how the 45 Drives Storinator solves this painful problem of storage expansion.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to Decide on the Best RAID Configuration For You



A common question we get asked here at 45 Drives is, “What RAID should I use with my Storinator?”

Our answer: “What are you trying to do?”

Choosing which RAID level is right for your application requires some thought into what is most important for your storage solution. Is it performance, redundancy or storage efficiency? In other words, do you need speed, safety or the most space possible?

This post will briefly describe common configurations and how each can meet the criteria mentioned above. Please note I will discuss RAID levels as they are defined by Linux software RAID “mdadm”. For other implementations, such ZFS RAID, the majority of this post will hold true; however, there are some differences when you dig into the details. These will be addressed in a post to come! In the meantime, check out the RAIDZ section of our configuration page for more information.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why I Love Rockstor on our Storinators



As a NAS operating system, FreeNAS has been out there for a decade. Working on the beautiful marriage of FreeBSD and ZFS, it's been tried and tested by many users within the storage community, to great success. But if you're one of those people who is more into Linux and Btrfs, you may be yearning for an alternative.

Over the past few months here in the 45 Drives lab, we have been putting an exciting new NAS OS through its paces on our Storinators. After working through a few kinks, such as how to set up redundant boot drives, we are ready to introduce Rockstor as one of our recommended solutions to create a solid NAS appliance when installed on a Storinator (alongside the traditional OS option, FreeNAS). I am writing this post to talk about why I like Rockstor, its Linux+Btrfs roots, and to share a bit of the story of how we got here.

Welcome, Rockstor.

Some of you may already be familiar with, or at least have heard of, Rockstor, a Linux + Btrfs-powered NAS OS. I, and the rest of the 45 Drives team, first heard of Rockstor when founder and lead engineer Suman Chakravartula contacted us back in November 2014 as a prospective hardware partner. We were pretty excited with the idea of helping a new NAS appliance gets its footing – it’s just another example of how the storage community really is a collaborative environment, and one that we’re proud to be a part of.

Monday, August 17, 2015

How to Saturate a 20Gbit Network Using Real Data Files Over a Samba Share

My last post, How to Achieve 20 Gb & 30 Gb Bandwidth through Network Bonding, was our most popular blog entry yet. There was a LOT of discussion and comments about the results of my testing, as well as network bonding in general (including here) – which was awesome to see. It's great when people care about what you write!



One prevalent comment was that our first experiments in network bonding didn’t go far enough, that we didn’t move real files to and from large RAIDs across the network.

And so, here is my follow-up post. In this set of experiments, I will attempt to saturate a 20Gbit network with two different bonding modes using real data files across the network using a samba share on a Storinator storage pod. The goal is to show that any user, from small video producers to a large enterprise corporation, can achieve incredibly fast and reliable throughput from their storage server using 10GbE and bonding.