How to protect your tape cartridges and their precious content

The lifespan of a tape cartridge may surpass twenty years or over 5,000 “load/unload” cycles, an impressive result for a magnetic media. Even if the numbers look so huge, tape cartridges need to be maintened correctly or they’ll wear out much much faster, even in a few months.

There are few rules to follow to protect your tape cartridges and their precious content: the data.

1. Keep them in their plastic cases

Dust and dirt will ruin your tape. Keeping them in their plastic cases, when they’re not in the drive, will protect them. Don’t take them directly with your bare hands and maintain the environment clean. They should not be allowed to lay flat.

2. Temperature and humidity

Tape cartridges will last longer if stored in a stable cold and dry environment. Maintain the temperature below 23° Celsius degrees and the humidity under 70%. Tapes must be protected from direct sunlight and hot air.

3. Magnetic fields

Magnetic fields can corrupt data written on a tape. Electric motors or old-school display produce strong magnetic fields. Store your tapes far away from other electronic gear, better if in a metal shelf with doors: the Faraday cage will isolate them from magnetic fields.

4. Don’t move them often

The lesser you move a tape cartridge, the longer will be its lifespan. When you move your tapes to a new facility give them the time (24h) to be acclimated to the new environment.

5. Check the data periodically

It’s a best practice and it could save you day in case of disaster.

How to create a Windows share with FreeNAS

We’ve already seen how to install FreeNAS to create a fully customizable NAS. Today we’ll talk about how to create Windows shares on FreeNAS.

This free and open source operating system is quite powerful but it’s not as easy-to-use as it should be. Creating a Windows share requires several steps in different “areas”. Anyway, the operation can be completed in a couple of minutes.

How to install FreeNAS to create your own NAS

FreeNAS is a free and open source OS born to create customizable NAS (network-attached storage) supporting the powerful ZFS filesystem. Based on FreeBSD, it allows to create a resilient storage for your business data.

ZFS supports snapshots and encryption, both useful features in business enviroments. Furthermore, RaidZ (a software RAID solution) offers data protection without many issues and limitations of traditional RAID setups.

FreeNAS supports all the most adopted file sharing protocols like Apple’s AFP, NFS, CIFS / SMB and iSCSI.

In this tutorial we’ll show you how to install FreeNAS to build your own – totally customizable – NAS.

Let’s clarify.. SSD, TRIM and Garbage Collection

Today’s SSDs are fast and reliable storage solutions, far more cheaper than they were a few years ago. A 256GB high-end consumer unit can be bought for less than 150 dollars and the improvements over a traditional HD are tremendous: a SSD won’t make your Call of Duty frame rate higher, but your PC will be more reactive. You will save time in almost every operation.

The advantages are even higher in storage-intensive professional tasks.

As manufacturers move to higher density cells the lifespan of the memory chips decreases, but the overall lifespan of the disks stands still thanks to the advancements on the software side.

Ars Technica has published yesterday an interesting articles on how SSD works and why the TRIM support is important to maintain high performance over time.

Almost all the SSDs available today have some sort of Garbage Collection, a low-level service that re-organize data to improve performance. Garbage Collection is good but it’s not an alternative to TRIM support.

Furthermore, an aggressive Garbage Collection reduces the lifespan of your drive.

Anyway, Ars Technica made a great job explaining this and we suggest you to take 5 minutes and read their article: Ask Ars: “My SSD does garbage collection, so I don’t need TRIM… right?”

For further information also read: Solid-state revolution: in-depth on how SSDs really work

The best temperature for your HDs

Flash storage has become more affordable and reliable than it was, but still tons of data are saved on mechanical HDs. In order to get the maximum lifespan from your hardware it’s important to have stable temperature in your server room.

But what temperature is the best?

If we talk about air temperature, we can’t give you an answer. Because the temperature of your HDs may vary depending on case ventilation, hardware density and dissipation. The delta between air temperature and HD temperature isn’t fixed, of course.

Talking about HD temperature, we can get useful insights from a Google research paper that is – sadly – no longer available online. But you’re lucky because we have a copy you can download from here.

Google has literally tons and tons of hardware in its datacenters, so we can consider these tests reliable. They found that temperature and workload have little effects on drive lifespan.

Contrary to previously reported results, we found very little correlation between failure rates and either elevated temperature or activity levels.

Surprisingly, the temperature range that seems to achieve the highest reliability is between 25 and 35 celsius degrees. Temperature lower than 25° brings higher failure rates.

High activity levels didn’t cause high failure rate.

The paper is dated to February 2007 so it refers to almost a decade old HDs. Anyway, while data density improved, HD technology isn’t much different from its past so we can consider the insights useful.

With this data is possible to optimize hardware costs, air condintioning doesn’t come for cheap and a datacenter a couple of degrees hotter may result in important savings.

How to connect a Windows 8.1 client to a Work Folders Sync Share

Recently, we explained how you can set up a Work Folders Sync Share on a Windows Server 2012 R2. It’s time to discover how you can connect a Windows 8.1 client to a Work Folders Sync Share.

The process is quick and simple, but you need to know two important things:

  • By default, you need a SSL certificate installed and configured on the server in order to connect the client. You can configure the client to use http – instead of https – by running the following command on the client:
    Reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WorkFolders /v AllowUnsecureConnection /t REG_DWORD /d 1
  • As Microsoft explains here, when a user enters the email address, such as, the client will construct the Url as, and use that Url to communicate with the server. In production environment, you will need to publish the Url for the client to communicate to the server through reverse proxy. You can bypass the Url publication configuring the following regkey:
    Reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WorkFolders /v ServerUrl /t REG_SZ /d