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RAID / NAS / Storage Question

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  • RAID / NAS / Storage Question

    We are currently looking at updating our file server (RAID5 350Gb). I just wondered what servers / storage solutions guys on here are running.

    Network storage is very cheap but I am a bt hesitan about the speeds and issues with AFP.

    We are a standard prepress department so have a mixture of Macs and PC's connecting to the server constantly accessing files. We have recently installed ExtremeZ-IP which has given us much quicker searches and the ability for longer file names on teh server which has made a big difference. I don't think we would get that option if we went with Network Storage.

    Any help or info as to what you are running is appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  • #2
    Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

    We run an NAS and have installed MacServerIP 9 on it for access and storage of our Mac jobs. Before getting MacServerIP, we were having many problems and I couldn't use it faithfully. Now we have few problems and things work great. With ExtremeZ-IP you have that taken care of.

    If the server is Windows-based, you will need one of the above-mentioned programs because Services for Macintosh just isn't up-to-date and is not good enough. But you could get an XServe from Apple that runs OS X and not need MacServerIP, or you could just get FireWire external hard drives and just hook it up to a Mac and share it (probably will need SharePoints)

    We spent way too much here just to do what we did, and if I could do it over (and had say in the purchase), I would just get multiple external FireWire drives and back my Mac systems up to it (partition for each Mac), and then back my jobs up to it, and then make a RAID with another FireWire drive of the same size. Sound good? Much less expensive than even dealing with Windows.



    • #3
      Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

      All our file servers run Linux with file shares exported via netatalk for Macintosh clients ( AFP ), samba for Windows clients ( SMB ) and good ole NFS for the Linux clients. For me, using Linux as a server platform offers the best performance and lowest maintenance with excellent support for all the platforms we use.

      Specific for prepress we have Xinet FullPress running on OS X so we can take advantage of OPI and have a centralized, consistent storage of images.

      I also use WebDAV for exporting volumes on our external server to our internal network for ease of use. No extra software needed other than the httpd already there.

      Right now all our storage is direct attached. Backups are via rsync disk-to-disk, mostly to hard drives that are a duplicate of the shared drive. Some data ( all the /etc directories of all the servers ) is backed up via rsync to a remote computer.

      NAS devices are simple to set up, but you are correct to be wary of the support provided for platforms other than Windows. Many are true "black boxes" that don't allow additional software. Some as Mr. Isbell noted run a stripped down version of Windows. Some run Linux



      • #4
        Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

        Like everything else in prepress you have to look first at the load the server will be handling and how much you are willing to pay for performance.
        I currently run a SUN V480 with 2 Rorke Data fiber raids each at 1 TB of storage. I also run Xinets FullPress, WebNative Venture and FlashNet for archiving.
        I have a little more horsepower the most shops due to the fact we do run Webnative and have customers downloading hi-res files from remote locations as
        well as feeding 12 Rampage boxes in our workflow. I have an Extreme Networks Summit 400 switch handling the traffic which is all gigabit to all devices and with
        Rampage using afp in my environment I am getting about 30 to 45 gbps across the network. One last thing to consider, file sizes double every year so you can never have
        enough storage. Get as much as you can afford and make sure its expandable.


        • #5
          Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

          If your working mainly with Mac's I recommend either an Xserve with or without Xsan (pending upon how much space and data you require/use) or a Mac Pro with an esata raid card and doing it external. Your Macs and PCs will both work smoothly and without a problem. I have used MacServer IP on a Windows box before as well a Windows server using SMB for the Macs to connect to it. The MacOS X server software is extremely easy to use, manage and learn.

          The biggest problem is File names... Windows limit on the filename causes files to rename and even completely disappear. Mac users are used to making file names as long as they want. On an share on a Macintosh, Windows users are the only ones who have the rather minor issue of a the filenames being shown funny due to the limitation within Windows.


          • #6
            Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

            Thanks for all your replies.

            We would love to get Xserve but the cost is too high for our needs. I think due to our workload NAS would be ideal as long as we install MacserveIP or ExtremeZ-IP for handling filenames etc.


            • #7
              Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

              Just be sure to "count the actual costs" before going further. Once It costs for hardware and support are added in, you may find that buying an XServer and learning XServe administration may be cheaper and better in the long run. MacServerIP is OK, but I hate to think of the day that something messes up on it and I have to get IT involved. May be nothing to worry about, but if I dealt with Mac-only, I would feel much better not having to deal with Windows IT (although they are helpful I like to do these things myself if possible).



              • #8
                Re: RAID / NAS / Storage Question

                >Windows limit on the filename causes files to rename and even completely disappear

                It isn't always a length issue, there are some characters Windows can't use in file names the the Mac can. Also look at the character encoding of the file names, OS X uses UTF-8, some Windows clients may not like that.

                If it is a length issue, it is more likely a total path length rather than just the file name.

                We don't have the 30-odd character limit the older Mac OS required, but having ginormus file names doesn't make sense from a practical point of view. Most file dialog boxes in applications are of a sized where really long file names are a major pain.

                As far as total costs, make sure you factor in upgrades to the third party Mac networking enhancement for Windows, that can add up over time.

                You could "upgrade" your Windows server to Linux and get better performance without spending money on licenses


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