Tuesday 27 September 2011

Lack of posts, with good reason I hope

Lots to tell you all but I can't for reasons which will become plain in just a couple of weeks.

In many ways this is a bit of a no news post but I wanted to let you know that something BIG is on the way.

I have been producing in an epic project which has been much more difficult to execute than I ever could possibly have imagined.

It will take me across 4 countries and the outcome is far from certain.

The objective is to take you ALL with me, one way or another.

Needless to say it will include friends old and new to do something that has never been done before.

I don't think I will be posting next week either as my plate is rather full.

When I have completed it, expect a LOT of blogging and a dedicated website to the project.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Life after DROBO...QNAP

Readers of this blog may recall my less than satisfactory experience with my Drobo Pro.

It was quite a saga which was scary and time hungry to say the very least.

I was struck by the sheer number of responses and the myriad suggestions of alternatives.

I then recalled Anders C Madsen a photographer who has good knowledge about storage too, who came on one of my workshops last year.

I contacted him and asked him the best route to take and he suggested I investigate QNAP.


What is that?

QNAP Inc is the Quality Network Appliance Provider

I had never heard of them....and they still seem to be rather unknown in the Photographic world.

Based in Taiwan, they manufacture all different shapes and sizes of Network attached storage.

What appealed to me about them is the OS is Linux based not proprietary which means if something does go badly wrong a whole host of companies could help you recover data.

Anders recommended that I set the QNAP TS859 up in the RAID 10 configuration

Here is his reasoning...

"One of the really nice features is the ability to use RAID10, which is the absolutely fastest way to configure your disks - but unfortunately also the most expensive.

The thing is, you're basically using 4 pair of disks that mirrors content so if one disk fails, the other has the exact same content and chugs along until the defective disk has been replaced.

Lumping 4 mirrors together in one big "virtual disk" means that you are writing and reading to and from 4 disks in parallel, which again means a real life write speed of four times the write speed of one disk. If disk performance has ever been a problem for you, here is the best cure.

Read speed is also four times that of one disk but because of different cache systems in the disks and controllers, read speed is always a lot higher than raw write speed and thus less likely to be a problem anyway. Search operations that runs through large amounts of data is likely to benefit very much from RAID10 versus RAID5.

Problem is, using sets of mirrors means that your available disk space will be half of that mounted in the drive bays - that is, 8 x 2 TB disks will give you 4 x 2 TB available disk space (the other 4 x 2 TB being used for mirroring).

Using RAID5 instead will give you 7 x 2 TB available disk space (2 TB is used for something called "parity data" which essentially means that one disk can fail without causing data loss) but you will be writing and reading to and from one single disk at a time so it will be a lot slower than RAID10.

I followed his advice (but I filled it with 3TB Hitachi drives) and I'm really pleased I did.

One of the drives failed last week.

Always a sticky moment but I need not have worried, the hot swappable nature of the QNAP TS859 meant I just hot swapped out the dead drive and fitted a new one, it took a while to rebuild but all was well. 

So safety and I have to say speed in Raid 10 has been a real bonus, out performing the Drobo Pro comfortably.

I have owned the QNAP TS859 since march and I'm very impressed.

I have filled my TS859 and have just bought another.

It just ticks away without drama, day in, day out>

Never needing my attention, very robust and reliable.

Isn't that what we all want?

But the benefits do not end there.

It has built-in remote replication and it can back up to Amazon S3 cloud storage, if you schedule it to do so and of course if you have an account.

Guess what mine is doing right now?

Backing my picture library up to Amazon S3.

It also has a web file manager which means you can access the NAS remotely and do whatever you want with the files.

The QNAP does have a wealth of features and I'm not talking about all of them but the ones which I use.

For me it has been a very good experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough, I have recommended them to other photographers and those who had bought them are happy.

The only downside I found was it was initially a little more difficult to set up than the Drobo Pro, but I did manage it and I'm no technical whizz when it comes to IP numbers, in fact I have a total aversion to them. 

QNAP is relatively unknown amongst photographers 

It really does not deserve to be overlooked.