From SAN to NAS: Your at a glance guide to storage

From SAN to NAS: Your at a glance guide to storage

Don’t know your SAN from your NAS? This quick guide will run you through the ten most common types of storage, from internal and external hard drives, to storage area network and network-attached storage, by way of solid state drives (SSDs), magnetic tape storage and RAID… 

Internal hard drives

Certainly the most common form of data storage is an internal hard drive – if you’re purchasing a ready-made notebook or workstation, it’ll generally already come included. They allow you to store files in a single computer, and come in the form of a traditional spinning disk hard drive, or more efficient solid state drive (SSD).

Pros: The convenience of internal hard drives is a major plus point, as they usually come bundled in with your new computer. They’re great for use with a single computer, but given proper support, can also be shared among multiple machines.

Cons: Limited capacity is a drawback, as is the fact that without special support, you’re confined to a single computer or server.

 

External hard drives

As well as internal hard drives, if you’re saving large files, you’re probably familiar with external hard drives. These are used throughout creative and business environments for local backup and archiving of data, and are usually small enough to sit happily on your desk.

Pros: The main upside of external hard drives is that they can be moved around multiple computers and users in your studio or office.

Cons: Just as with internal hard drives, external hard drives can be hamstrung by limited capacity. It can also be incredibly awkward to physically transfer data among multiple computers using external hard drives.

 

Solid state drives (SSDs)

As mentioned above, solid state storage can come in the form of an internal hard drive that ships with your Mac or other workstation, or as external hard drives. The external, portable variety are used for everyday simple file swapping and local data transfer, and larger capacity drives are often used for more heavy duty work like video processing, relational databases and high-speed data acquisition, either as an internal or external drive.

Pros: The main advantage of solid state storage is that, unlike your traditional spinning disk hard drive, they have no moving parts, which generally means there are fewer components which could potentially fail. They also have high read/write speeds, and the portable, external variety have a small form factor which makes them incredibly portable or chuck-in-your-laptop-bag-able.

Cons: On the downside, solid state storage has limited storage capacity, with many mobile drives topping out at around 1 or 2TB, and cost more than hard drives.

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Storage area network (SAN)

If you’re working with large databases, bandwidth-hungry and mission-critical applications, the above options are not the drives you are looking for. Storage area network (SAN) is a cover-all term for a network that gives multiple users block level access (as opposed to file level) to multiple storage devices and arrays, accessible to servers so that the devices appear to the operating system as locally attached devices. SANs are widely used by enterprises working with large amounts of data and apps.

Pros: The main reason you’d want to go for SAN is for consolidated block storage. SAN is also exceptionally reliable, widely available, very tolerant of faults, and super scalable, so you can expand on your SAN as your business grows.

Cons: One minus point with SAN is its high cost, which can be prohibitive to smaller businesses. Traditionally you’d also require a dedicated network, separate from the network supporting desktops. Managing SAN can be quite complex too, which could cause a few headaches.

 

Fibre Channel

Fibre Channel is a type of SAN used to connect shared storage to servers. Its high speed means it can often be found in datacentres and offsite storage dealing with large databases, bandwidth-intensive and mission-critical applications.

Pros: Fibre Channel lets you transmit data between devices at super-fast gigabit speeds (often at 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 gigabit per second rates).

Cons: As it is a SAN though, it can be prohibitively expensive, and complex to manage.

 

iSCSI storage

Another type of SAN, iSCSI (or Internet Small Computer Systems Interface, if you’re not in a hurry), is a standard that provides block-level access to storage devices over an Ethernet network. As with Fibre Channel, it’s used for linking data storage facilities, SANs, for offsite storage and mission-critical applications.

Pros: iSCSI lets you transmit data between devices using existing network infrastructure, rather than dedicated cabling, so you can run it over long distances.

Cons: Although, it doesn’t compare as favourably with Fibre Channel when it comes to large database transfers, and is also equally complex to manage.

 

Network-attached storage (NAS)

Used for data storage and file stores, a NAS is effectively a file server often built as a computer appliance (a purpose-built specialised computer), and tends to be managed remotely, usually by a web-based GUI. The device provides access to storage at file level, rather than at a block level like SAN, using a variety of protocols, such as NFS, SMB/CIFS, and AFP. It provides local area network (LAN) nodes with file-based shared storage through your standard Ethernet connection, giving multiple clients on the network access to the same files.

Pros: NAS is great as it gives fast file access it multiple clients, it’s easy to share data, has high storage capacity, is easy to mirror drives, and lets you consolidate all your resources in one place. Redundancy, backing up copies of files, also means you’re protected against data loss in the event of a disk failure.

Cons: It is, however, less convenient than a storage area network (SAN) for moving large blocks of data.

 

D2D2T storage

Disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) is a backup and archiving system in which, as you may have guessed, data is first copied to backup storage on a disk storage system, then periodically copied again to a tape storage system. It’s often used for incremental backups of data, storage virtualisation, offsite storage and data archiving.

Pros: Upsides are redundancy (which safeguards against data loss), a high read/write speed for quick data transfer, and high capacity (use multiple tapes to your heart’s content).

Cons: The only problem with D2D2T storage is that it’s complex to manage.

Magnetic tape

A tape drive is a data storage device that reads and writes data on a magnetic tape. You’ll generally find these used for data archiving and offline storage, and are much favoured by the budget-conscious business.

Pros: The main thing tape storage has going for it is its low cost per megabyte. They’re also a fairly portable form of data storage, plus you get unlimited capacity, as you can always add more tapes.

Cons: However, tapes make it inconvenient to quickly recover individual files or groups of files, and you may have to buy quite expensive housing if you have lots of tape.

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RAID storage

A redundant array of independent disks (thankfully known more widely by the acronym RAID) is simply a method of combining multiple physical disks into a single unit for performance and/or reliability, and is used in pretty much every SAN, NAS and DAS array. RAID lets you easily swap files, and gives ‘data redundancy’, which essentially means you don’t lose data if a single disk fails, and lets you correct errors to protect against data loss.

Pros: RAID is high speed, high capacity, high data availability storage that’s reliable, secure and gives you fault tolerance in the face of disk failure (ie peace of mind).

Cons: RAID users may unfortunately develop a false sense of security though, with recovery from failure difficult in some systems. And if you’re looking at a high-end optimum system, be prepared for a high price tag.

 

Want to know more about storage solutions? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com. or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news and reviews, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

3-2-1 backup solutions for photographers

3-2-1 backup solutions for photographers

To mitigate against the ever-present threat of disk failure, a corrupted card or accidental deletion, backing up should be a major concern for any professional shooting images and video. Luckily, there’s a whole array of products that can help you follow the golden rule: always have three copies of your data, on two types of media and keep one backup copy offsite.

Backing up in the field

It’s best to ingest dailies and rushes as soon as possible after a shoot, then start making multiple copies straight away. You can ingest and duplicate straight on to mobile drives – we recommend a ruggedised one (i.e. one that’s got at least some drop and shock protection) like the G-DRIVE ev RaW Rugged 1TB hard drive. If you find yourself working in a particularly exotic location where water, sand and dust pose a threat to your backup copies, then choose drives with the added protection of an all terrain case.

Even the most rugged and reliable mobile drives can still fail, so a nifty way to make two simultaneous copies to disks is by using a RAID, and for backups in the field there’s nothing better than the Rugged RAID from LaCie. It’s even bus-powered over Thunderbolt too, so there’s no need to lug around an external power supply with you.

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Backing up in the studio

Depending on your field backup strategy, you might want to make additional copies when you’ve back in the studio. If you’ve backed up onto G-DRIVE ev modules then you can drop the mobile drives straight onto a RAID-protected storage array like the G-SPEED Shuttle XL ev, which adds further protection for your data against disk failures. If you only need one additional copy, you could drop backups on to a straightforward external drive. While there’s no redundancy built in should the drive fail, this is a popular fuss-free solution, and with external drives now sporting capacities of up to 10TB you get plenty of bytes for your buck. Take a look at our range of external drives here.

Backing up to other types of media

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Maxing out internal storage, cards and drives can get expensive, especially if you’re keeping multiple copies of your data. Offloading to lower cost media like LTO tapes or centralised NAS storage is a good strategy once you have an initial copy sorted. While it takes longer to recover data from tape than from other media, the cost per TB is exceptionally low and you don’t even need a centralised LTO tape library to benefit. The M-TAPE Thunderbolt Tape Drive is direct-attach over Thunderbolt, and this bundle comes with YoYotta software to index, backup, archive and restore all your camera ingests and track assets from production to post.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Lucas Gilman talks Thunderbolt storage, Mac Pro and the G-Technology ev

Lucas Gilman talks Thunderbolt storage, Mac Pro and the G-Technology ev

Photographer and videographer Lucas Gilman has built a reputation on getting fantastic action shots in some of the most trying conditions imaginable, so he’s perfect if you’re looking for someone to stress test your latest kit. Recently, he’s been putting both G-Technology’s Evolution Series and Apple’s new Mac Pro through its paces, so we caught up with him to find out how they fared…

We hear you’ve been taking the new G-Technology ev series out on shoots recently. How does it fit into your workflow?

I shoot a lot of stuff on location around the world, and originally I was using the G-Technology G-RAID minis in the field. However, with the advent of the ev series, it’s made things a lot smoother in terms of going out and capturing both stills and motion. A lot of organisation needs to be done in the field to jump-start the editing process when I’m back in the studio.

I primarily capture in the field, so the first order of business after a day of shooting is to download everything to a backup drive instantaneously. I use a G-DOCK ev with Thunderbolt via a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina display. So I’m harnessing the speed of Thunderbolt, and I’m able to duplicate that data using Shotput Pro for the video things or Photo Mechanic on stills.

That means that right away I’ve got two backup copies. With video, we go to four drafts simultaneously using two G-DOCKs with two G-DRIVE evs in each. On top of that, I’ve got my master copy, which is on the CF or SD card. Those are then geographically separated, and it’s not until then that I’ll begin to go through and start organising data.

The great thing is that once I get back to the studio office, or the mothership, I can plug these G-DRIVE evs right into the G-DOCK that I’ve got on my desk and start ingesting all of that data.

Is that the storage you’d work off for the rest of the project?

Basically, G-SPEEDs are my backup drives, and then for any video work I’m typically using G-RAIDs. Any live work is going on G-RAIDs for video, live work and / or archive is going onto G-SPEEDs.

Basically every day of a shoot I have a set of G-DRIVE ev’s for that given day. So if it’s a ten-day shoot, that means I have twenty G-DRIVE ev’s. If I’m shooting video, I’d have forty G-DRIVE ev’s. And when we get back, all those drives get plugged into G-DOCKs next to my Mac Pro, and all that data starts getting downloaded into the various G-SPEEDs or G-RAIDs. For instance, my photo workflow for my live work, the images that I’m actually working on, and my archive, I use

G-SPEED Q USB 3.0 drives, because that’s totally sufficient for my photo needs. The backup and archive of all the video projects is done via a Thunderbolt RAID Expansion adapter with two G-SPEED eS PROs, which are really fast, and for the daily work I’m using the G-RAIDs. They’re tough, they’re fast, they’re Thunderbolt, they’re all that great stuff.

Why did you gravitate to that particular setup?

It’s easier to be doing all this data backup in the field with the G-DOCK because now I don’t have to manually do it drive-to-drive, or have a bunch of drives plugged in, which is near impossible when you’re on location. I can use G-DRIVEs and the G-DOCK in a JBOD [‘just a bunch of disks’, ie non-RAID] configuration so that they all just show up as independent drives [and only have to do the transfer once]. It makes it so there’s no human error. Because there’s only one copy. It’s easy to stay organised because there’s less to track.

And how are the drives holding up so far?

As far as the speed goes, the G-DRIVE ev’s are definitely sufficient to get the workflow done. I know that there will be speed improvements in the pipeline, because with G-Technology, everything gets faster and bigger every year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that as well as some incorporation of SSD in there at some point.

How important is storage to your workflow?

For me personally, a lot of the things I shoot will never happen again. For instance, I shoot a lot of big water drops and big wave surfing – things that you can’t recreate. So if you screw up and lose a card from that day’s shoot or it falls out of your pocket or whatever, it’s gone forever. So it’s really important for me to have a backup strategy.

Why should people be investing in the best storage they can?

I basically use and trust G-Technology because in my opinion they make the most well built and – consistently – the fastest drives that cater to creative professionals. On top of that, they’re using enterprise class drives in a lot of their products.  For me it all comes down to trust, reliability and speed. Think about it – if I go to Iceland for Land Rover, that’s thousands of dollars we’re spending onsite, the campaign took years to come together, so I spend a little extra on hard drives that I can trust with my creative vision.”

I’ve seen some shots you took of people surfing in pretty glacial waters. I imagine it’s hard to find tech that’ll keep working consistently in arctic conditions.

Exactly. The reason I gravitated to the G-Technology products was that they were built to a higher standard. And that allows me, as a creative professional; to focus on the task at hand and not be worrying about if a drive’s ready to go. That’s just wasted time and energy, when I could be focusing on the project and producing good, relevant content for my clients.

How does this generation of models compare to the ones you were using previously?

As far as the speed, they’re obviously faster, but the form factor is the beauty of it. The fact that I can plug a G-DRIVE ev into my Mac via USB 3 if I want, independently, or I can use them in the G-DOCK and leverage its Thunderbolt speed. In the field I use them via USB, then plug them right into the G-DOCK once I get home. The nice thing is that I don’t have to have a bunch of cords hanging off my desk and a bunch of drives – I don’t have to worry and think ‘oh, did I do that drive yet or not?’ It’s really simple and makes everything really fluid.

Is desktop storage key to your workflow, or do you find yourself working with SAN/nearline/archive setups too? If so, how does your G-Technology storage integrate with that?

I look at the G-DOCK as an ingest mechanism. So you’ve got the data already organised on these cartridges (G-DRIVE evs), and then just ingesting it into your nearline system, like G-RAID or my SAN’s G-SPEED eS PROs, it’s really very simple – basically plug and play. It’s just another method of getting the data from point A to point B, and it’s really fast.

And how have you found using it with Mac Pro?

The benefit of integrating the Mac Pro and the G-Technology system is that the Mac Pro, having six Thunderbolt 2 ports, allows me to attach a lot of peripherals and gives me a lot of flexibility.

But I think the benefit of the Mac Pro is that it is pretty much the fastest computer on the planet. It’s super reliable. It’s very expandable from a peripheral standpoint, and that’s great because G-Technology have made a very concerted effort to move forward with Thunderbolt.

Having that really fast Mac Pro, having Thunderbolt-ready drives, or being able to use Thunderbolt devices such as an ATTO Thunderstream so that I can run SANs, really allows me to configure the system how I want.

I think that’s going to be the big key point for creative professionals, especially in the motion and video market. They’re not pigeonholed into a particular workflow. If they want to run SANs, they can. If they want to run eSATA they can. If you want to use third party cards that will attach via Thunderbolt, you can do that too.  You’re really able to keep that system growing and future-proof it, in a sense.

How have you found working on Mac Pro? Does it live up to the hype?

For me it’s the fastest computer I’ve ever used. Previously, because I do like Thunderbolt, I was using the fastest possible iMac – everything was completely maxed out – and the Mac Pro is way, way faster than that. It allows me to render a lot of data very quickly, and seamlessly scrub through a lot of HD footage. I’m doing my edits a lot quicker. And the fact that I’ve got dual 6GB graphics cards as well as eight core processors – it’s kind of amazing.

Is this going to let you tackle bigger and better projects?

Totally. As of recently, I’ve been shooting pretty much 1080p, but I would definitely think about shooting 4K now, because I could actually do something with it as opposed to it just being a massive chore. That’ll really allow me a lot more flexibility in post whether I’m cropping or moving within the frames or even just shooting super-slow motion stuff. Being able to crunch through all that data now will open up the opportunities for me to be more creative.

What applications have you been using on the new Mac Pro?

I like FCP X. Aperture is my main photo editing app with a little Photoshop thrown in – a sprinkling of Photoshop, I guess you’d say. Typically I feel like the Apple applications are really optimised for this machine, so it’s able to give a much higher level of performance than anybody else can offer.

What performance gains have you seen on the new Mac Pro vs the previous generation?

I had an older generation Mac Pro and then I upgraded everything to iMac because I wanted Thunderbolt. So I had the most current iMac with the fastest processors, maxed out with RAM as well as dual graphics cards and an internal SSD, so it was the fastest you could purchase. I’d say this is eight to ten times faster than my iMac was. Graphics-intensive things like rendering video and such, you just don’t register those things having to render anymore.

What kind of transfer speeds have you seen through Thunderbolt 2?

I have not clocked anything recently. I’m not a speeds and feeds guy. I don’t get too deeply into the tech. But what I do notice is when I’m on a job and I’m not waiting for anything to happen, whether it’s transferring data or rendering – when I’m able to do that really quickly and it feels like wow, that took no time. I don’t even notice it happening because there’s no slowdown, that’s what makes or breaks it for me.

We hear you’ve also been using a Sharp 4K display – can you tell us a little about how you’ve found that?

It’s been great. The only issue I had was that I had to reconfigure all my mouse settings because there’s so much real estate. You literally move your mouse across your desk and it would move a quarter each on my screen. I thought, ‘what is this? Is this a glitch? Oh no, there are a lot more pixels here, and there’s a lot more real estate!’

It’s really taking photo editing to the next level because you just notice more things, it’s just that much more apparent. As far as the video editing goes, having that amount of real estate is great, but it’s also really being able to dig into that footage and notice the nuances and being able to colour grade things on a much higher level really makes things a lot more pleasant. The Sharp display is absolutely amazing.

Want to know more about G-Technology’s latest and the new Mac Pro? Give our team a call on 03332 409 306 or email MacPro@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.