In our small business we process large amounts of print-quality ads, and our graphics departments read/write directly to our storage server (Lenovo px4-300d); but after a series of issues it's coming to my attention that they are being very rough on the machine by saving huge files extremely regularly.

(We cannot rely on our graphics department to change their ways, either; they have a 'culture' of disregarding our instructions)

We don't have a 'budget' to speak of, but after a recent panic I may be able to eke out a bit, so I came up with the following plan:

My current thought process is to take one of our desktop computers and load it with a large amount of RAM, then convert it into a cache server; If someone requests something from the storage server it would first download that information to itself in a RamFS or TmpFS filesystem. Users would work directly off the cache server, and periodically the cache sever would write back to the storage server in intervals. I think this could also have the side-benefit of dramatically speeding things up once the cache server has the files.

Does this sound like a viable solution? Is there a better solution?


After taking 5 minutes to realize what I've typed, I understood I was coming up with what the DailyWTF would call a "Clever Solution". I cam up with the idea after a 46 hour stretch, and I honestly don't know why I hung onto the idea.

My budget is literally $0, but I've come up with some sane solutions. Instead of making some weird cache server I'm going to re-purpose a computer as a legit storage server exclusively for our graphics department. Then I'll just have that server back-up to the current storage server at night.

Thankfully I was semi-sane when I set up what we have, and our storage server is raided and has a twin off-site. The backup server is configured to keep all files, too.

But yes, I do agree, first thing I'd do is drop a few grand on decent servers - but in a no-budget office I've got to make due with what I've got, and 'real' storage isn't in the budget when our current servers 'work'. Even getting the pair of small home servers was a significant step up (our previous "server" was an old beige box rejected by its previous user, no raid, no backup). In a year I believe I might be able to start upgrading the servers - but were also replacing XP machines which is consuming my non-existent budget already.

closed as off-topic by Wesley, ewwhite, Rex, Katherine Villyard, mdpc Apr 12 '14 at 5:19

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  • 3
    So, a graphics "department" runs a large amount of data through a low end desktop NAS? Are you serious? This thing is - nicely said - made for stuff like 3 insurance agents saving their work, not a workhorse for a company having a graphics department. – TomTom Apr 11 '14 at 15:42
  • In my more naive early years when I first put it in I was under the impression they worked off their desktops and just copied to the server. Which is what I assumed was the sane thing to do. No. Not so much. Now that they know they can "skip" that step... They refuse to work any other way. X( – Kver Apr 11 '14 at 15:46
  • 6
    I think your problem is that this isn't a real storage server. It's a SOHO NAS device that runs Atom processors and has 4 SATA drives. My advice would be to use this recent panic to upgrade to an actual NAS server, rather than something less powerful than what I dropped off at my parents' house to get them to stop bugging me about moving files between their laptops. – HopelessN00b Apr 11 '14 at 15:46
  • 2
    ... And I think I already know the answer to this, but what are the odds this backed up, and what happens to the business when some user deletes everything, or the thing catches fire and melts into a puddle of slag? – HopelessN00b Apr 11 '14 at 15:52
  • Very well said, N00b. This is a disaster in the making. We just lost 2 servers and are still recovering (terabyte level restore takes some time, should finish late this evening). I bet that thing is just a time bomb without any backup. – TomTom Apr 11 '14 at 15:54

You can drive nails with the butt-end of a screwdriver, but it won't be efficient. Using the wrong tool for the job is fine in a pinch, but isn't a recipe for long-term results. You're creating cache coherency issues in your proposed "solution" (better hope nobody accessed the old NAS directly, hope that non-ECC RAM on the desktop PC doesn't have bit-rot, etc). You'd be better off, long-term, to just get a suitably-sized file server or NAS device, to my mind. Unless your management is crazy I'd think you could make a business case for it.

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