StableBit

StableBit DrivePool 2.1.0.432 BETA – Reparse Points

Posted in StableBit on November 27th, 2013 by alex – 10 Comments

To those of you celebrating the holidays this week, happy Thanksgiving and happy Hanukkah! I have a brand new build of StableBit DrivePool to share with you today, it’s the next 2.1 BETA.

StableBit DrivePool 2.1.0.432 BETA

StableBit DrivePool 2.1.0.432 BETA

Download the latest version right here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

This build took a while to get done (almost 2 months) and the main new feature here is support for reparse points. Reparse points are the underlying technology that Microsoft Windows uses to create links or shortcuts between files or directories, on the same drive or even among different drives.

I won’t get that technical here but I’ve written up a fairly technical explanation of the different types of reparse points over here: http://community.covecube.com/index.php?/topic/279-stablebit-drivepool-reparse-points/

Link Shell Extension

Unfortunately Windows Explorer is not very savvy when it comes to working with reparse points. I prefer to use a free shell extension called the Link Shell Extension in order to make working with reparse points easier.

You can download it for free right here: http://schinagl.priv.at/nt/hardlinkshellext/hardlinkshellext.html

Command Line

As an alternative, you can also use mklink and fsutil on the command line to work with reparse points.

A Simple Example

Reparse points can get very confusing if you try to think about how they work, so instead of doing that let’s dive right in with a simple example.

2 Folders

2 Folders

For this example, I’ve created a new pool (G:\) and have created 2 folders in the root directory of that pool, Folder1 and Folder2.

G:\Folder2\File2.txt

G:\Folder2\File2.txt

Now, in Folder2 I’ve created a new file called File2.txt. In this file I’ve put the text “This is file 2.”

What we’re going to do now is create a symbolic link in G:\Folder1 that points to G:\Folder2.

Pick Link Source

Pick Link Source

The first thing that we’re going to do is right click on G:\Folder2 and select Pick Link Source.

Drop Symbolic Link

Drop Symbolic Link

We then navigate to G:\Folder1 and right click, select Drop As… > Symbolic Link. You’ll notice that there are a lot of options here, so if you don’t know which one to pick, symbolic link is generally the best bet.

G:\Folder1\Folder2

G:\Folder1\Folder2

What we now end up with is a symbolic link G:\Folder1\Folder2 that points to G:\Folder2.

You can right click on G:\Folder1\Folder2 and select Properties > Link Properties to see some additional information about the symbolic link.

Link Properties

Link Properties

From here we can see that G:\Folder1\Folder2 actually points to ..\Folder2. You’ll notice that the link target doesn’t contain a drive letter and so this is called a relative symbolic link. If the link target were G:\Folder2, then it would be an absolute symbolic link. The Link Shell Extension will create the appropriate links for you automatically.

So let’s navigate into G:\Folder1\Folder2.

Reparse Point

Reparse Point

Notice that we see File2.txt which actually exists in G:\Folder2. Let’s open it up.

File2.txt

File2.txt

And there we have it, the same text that we placed in G:\Folder2\File2.txt in the beginning of this example.

It is important to understand that this is not a copy of File2.txt, but the original one and that G:\Folder1\Folder2 is not a copy of G:\Folder2. For example, if we place another file in G:\Folder2, it will automatically appear in G:\Folder1\Folder2, and this essentially illustrates what symbolic links (which are a type of reparse point) can do.

File Symbolic Links

In the example above I’ve shown how directory symbolic links work, but symbolic links can work with files, and there is no limit on how many symbolic links can point to the same file or directory, 1, 10 , 100, it doesn’t matter.

Multiple Symbolic Links

Multiple Symbolic Links

In the screen above I’ve created 3 separate symbolic links in G:\Folder1 to the file G:\Folder2\File2.txt. All of these essentially are the same file.

Links Across Volumes

A symbolic link can technically point to any kernel path, which includes another disk volume.

Links to Other Volumes

Links to Other Volumes

In the screen above, I’ve created a symbolic link in the G:\ pool that points to the F:\ pool. Isn’t that cool?

Other Types of Reparse Points

Symbolic links are only one type of reparse points, and in my opinion they are the most flexible. But in addition to symbolic links StableBit DrivePool supports junctions and mount points.

Other Reparse Points

Other Reparse Points

In the screen above I’ve created a mount point to C:\ and a junction to F:\ in G:\Folder1. Junctions and mount points are precursors to symbolic links, which were not implemented until Windows Vista. I suggest using symbolic links unless you have a special need not to.

Hard Links

In addition to the other types of links, the Link Shell Extension has the ability to create Hard Links. Hard Links are not implemented using reparse points and so this build of StableBit DrivePool does not support them. Hard Links are implemented directly in NTFS and can only point to a file on the same volume.

Implementation Difficulty

The reparse functionality here was notoriously difficult to implement correctly and that’s why this build took so long to get out. As a result, some functionality that I planned to include in it (such as TrueCrypt support) didn’t make it. But I just wanted to acknowledge that it’s on the way.

StableBit Scanner 2.5.0.2968 BETA – Notifications

Posted in StableBit on November 8th, 2013 by alex – 4 Comments
StableBit Scanner - Notifications

StableBit Scanner – Notifications

This BETA of the StableBit Scanner features a complete overhaul of the notification system. The entire back-end was mostly rewritten and a new UI now allows you to configure our new, much more feature rich, notification system.

Download the latest BETA right here: http://stablebit.com/Scanner

The StableBit Scanner can now send notifications using these providers:

  • Email
  • SMS (US only for now)
  • Speech (through local speakers)
  • Twitter
  • Mobile
    • Pushover (iOS and Android)
    • Pushalot (Windows Phone and Windows 8)
    • Notify My Android (Android)

The New Back-End

You may be wondering why a rewrite of the notification system was necessary when the old one was working fine. The answer is that different notification providers send notifications in different ways.

Because the old notification system was written essentially for tray icon notifications it only had the notion of an alert either being raised or not. The new notification system is much more flexible and supports a wide variety of notification scenarios.

The New UI

Because the new notification system is very comprehensive it deserves its own Window, so the old “Notifications” tab in Scanner Settings is now gone.

Settings

Settings

The updated drop down menu is now called “Settings” and features the new Notification settings option.

Let’s take a tour of the new notification settings window and talk about some of the new features.

Site Name

StableBit Scanner - Notifications

StableBit Scanner – Notifications

One of the first things that you will notice is that there is now a place to configure a “Site name”. Assigning a site name is basically a simple way of grouping all of your copies of the StableBit Scanner running at some site. When a notification is sent out, be it email, SMS or anything else, a site name will be included in the notification.

For example, you may see something like this in a notification:
(StableBit Scanner on “SERVER3” at “Main Office”) A disk is overheating…
Case: Rack 7B
Bay: 3

Cooldown Threshold

There was a minor annoyance with the old notification system related to overheating warnings. If a disk’s temperature was hovering at the overheating threshold you would tend to get lots of notifications that the disk is overheating and then not, over and over again.

This was kind of annoying so the new notification system has a “cooldown threshold”. Basically this means that an overheating disk does not exit its overheating state (as far as notifications are concerned) unless its temperature drops some degrees below the overheating threshold.

Test Notifications

Another thing that the old system didn’t have was a “test” button. In the new system, every notification provider now has a test button that sends a test notification using that provider.

Email Test

Email Test

This lets you easily confirm whether you’ve configured the notification provider correctly and that your notifications will be delivered to you.

Email Sent

Email Sent

Let’s now take a tour of all the notification providers.

Email

Email

Email

This is pretty much the same functionality as before, but with a nicer UI. You can enter multiple email addresses and test them by sending test email messages.

Emails are dispatched using our paid for Amazon SES service and we do not store the email addresses on our server only in your copy of the StableBit Scanner.

SMS

SMS

SMS

This is brand new and really took a while to get right. There are a number of ways to send SMS messages out there.

One way is to use a paid online SMS gateway that offers an API and then charges you per message sent. This can be expensive, but it’s the easiest to implement.

Another way is to use a SMS Email gateway. Most cell phone providers offer SMS Email gateways which forward all emails received at your SMS Email address to your cell phone as a SMS. This approach is not reliable and requires the user to select their carrier. This is not what the StableBit Scanner uses, but if you’d like, you can certainly enter your SMS Email address in the Email notifications provider.

The StableBit Scanner uses a physical SMS gateway that sends your SMS directly to the cell network. We subscribe to a business SMS plan and a physical SMS gateway (in the form of a SMUSH Box). Your messages only stay in our system for the sending process and then all information about the message, including the telephone number is erased.

For now this is enabled for US domestic telephone numbers only, but the plan is to add international support as well.

Speech

Speech

Speech

Speech notifications have been updated to let you select the rate of speech and a different voice, when more than one is available (E.g. Windows 8).

Go ahead and click the test button to hear something special (these change daily) 😉

Twitter

Twitter

Twitter

Yes, that’s right, twitter notifications are now possible. Why? Because twitter is the de facto social network for sending out notifications and status updates. It can be used as a point of integration with other cloud services (IFTTT comes to mind). You can tweet to all of your followers or direct message another twitter user (including yourself).

Mobile

While we don’t offer any mobile apps yet, but that doesn’t mean that we have to exclude smart phones and tablets from notifications. Whether you’re running iOS, Android, Windows Phone or even the Microsoft Surface the StableBit Scanner has you covered.

Here are the notification services that we support on these platforms, starting with my favorite:

Pushover

Pushover

Pushover

Platforms: iOS and Android

Website: https://pushover.net/

Type: Paid (one time)

This is a very simple and clean service and it now works with the StableBit Scanner.

Pushalot

Pushalot

Pushalot

Platforms: Windows Phone and Windows 8

Website: https://pushalot.com/

Type: Free

Another great service to get notifications on the Microsoft platform.

Notify My Android

Notify My Android

Notify My Android

Platform: Android

Website: https://www.notifymyandroid.com/

Type: Limited Free (one time paid upgrade)

This one is a bit clunky but it seems to be popular. The free account is limited to 5 notifications a day, but you can upgrade to an unlimited account for a one time fee.

Notification Templates

Notification Templates

Notification Templates

One other cool thing that came out of the notification rewrite is the ability to completely customize your notifications. You see, every notification provider (except speech) uses XSLT to generate the notification text or HTML. So if you know how XSLT works you can easily tweak your notification text for each provider.

Here’s an example of the Email template:

Email Template

Email Template

As you can see, you can change the text and structure of how the email is generated by editing this file.

Conclusion

This BETA features a significant notification update, and more features are on the way. The next builds of the StableBit Scanner will concentrate on improving SMART reliability and accuracy by making greater use of cloud features.

The next BETA of StableBit DrivePool is taking longer than expected due to some complications with reparse points. But a new build is in the works, so stay tuned for that.

If you’d like the StableBit Scanner to support additional notification providers, let me know. I’d like to hear your suggestions.

StableBit DrivePool 2.0.0.420 Release Final

Posted in StableBit on October 3rd, 2013 by alex – 2 Comments
Release Final

Release Final

After going through a lengthy public BETA testing period, StableBit DrivePool 2.0 is now being tagged as a Release Final. Thank you everyone for testing the BETA and reporting any issues that you’ve encountered, most of those turned into direct fixes applied to the code.

Download StableBit DrivePool here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

Operating System Support

For those of you who may be visiting this page for the first time, and have never heard of StableBit DrivePool, let me give you a brief summary.

StableBit DrivePool 2.0 is a disk pooling application. It can combine the free disk space of one or more hard drives without altering the existing files on those drives or anything about the disk formatting itself. It creates a new pool, as a new virtual drive in the OS. You can freely add and remove disks to and from the pool at any time and treat the new virtual drive just like any other disk.

Your files are stored as standard Windows NTFS files on one or more disks that are part of the pool.

StableBit DrivePool also provides folder duplication. Basically you can designate the pool, or one or more folders on the pool as duplicated folders. Any files placed in a duplicated folder will actually reside on two or more disks in the pool.

StableBit DrivePool - Folder Duplication

StableBit DrivePool – Folder Duplication

StableBit DrivePool 2.0 OS support starts at Microsoft Windows Vista and newer. It supports both x86 and x64 variants of the OS.

You can check out the download page for a full list of supported Operating Systems: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

Upgrading From 1.X

For those of you who are running the 1.X version and are happy with it, there’s no need to rush and upgrade to 2.0 immediately unless you want some of the new features. The 1.X line is still being worked on, just earlier today StableBit DrivePool 1.3.5.7572 was released.

Pros of upgrading for WHS 2011 users:

  • Remote control.
  • More flexible folder duplication settings.
    • Duplication counts > 2
    • Setting duplication counts on sub-folders.
  • Redesigned UI.

Things that 1.X has that 2.X doesn’t:

  • A more “native” looking Dashboard UI.
    • However, StableBit DrivePool 2.0 does install a Dashboard tab.
  • Support for Dashboard alerts.
  • Native .wssx installer.

Some of these will probably show up in 2.X down the line, but for now those are the differences.

For me personally, I love the super efficient Remote Control. It means that I don’t have to load the Dashboard every time that I want to manage StableBit DrivePool or the StableBit Scanner. So I already upgraded my personal server.

Upgrading Instructions

If you do wish to upgrade to 2.0, there is no additional cost and you are free to do so. But because StableBit DrivePool 2.0 uses a completely different installer, you will need to follow these steps:

  • Uninstall StableBit DrivePool 1.X using the Dashboard’s add-ins tab.
  • Reboot the server.
  • Install StableBit DrivePool 2.0 by logging into the server using remote desktop as Administrator.
  • Reboot the server.

Uninstalling StableBit DrivePool does not alter your existing pooled data. In addition, StableBit DrivePool 1.X and 2.0 use the same file storage scheme so they are backwards and forwards compatible.

For more information, see the Manual.

A New Product

New Product

New Product

The initial StableBit DrivePool 2.0 BETA is now over, but that’s not the end of its development. A new StableBit DrivePool 2.1 BETA should be out within a couple of weeks, and of course we will continue to listen to your feedback and fix anything that’s broken.

But there is something else in the works! A new product is under development right now which I am very excited about. No, it’s not related to BitFlock or anything remotely similar. While I can’t tell you any more than that for now, hopefully we can have a new public BETA of that in a few months.

Stay tuned.

StableBit Scanner 2.5.0.2954 BETA – Remote Control

Posted in StableBit on October 3rd, 2013 by alex – Be the first to comment
Remote Control

Remote Control

The latest BETA of the StableBit Scanner now supports remote control.

You can download the latest BETA right here: http://stablebit.com/Scanner/Download

This feature functions exactly like it does in StableBit DrivePool 2.0. You can use it to manage your server from any computer on your local network, or you can centralize the management of one or more workstations from one location. It’s up to you how you want to use it.

There’s really not much more to say here because it is a direct port of StableBit DrivePool’s functionality, including its support for “static peers”.

Remote Control Setting

Remote Control Setting

If you don’t want remote control enabled then you can simply turn it off in the StableBit Scanner settings window.

StableBit DrivePool Translations

Posted in StableBit on September 16th, 2013 by alex – Be the first to comment
DrivePool - French

StableBit DrivePool – French

For the upcoming StableBit DrivePool 2.X release final, the localization was done by paid professional translators, but I’m sure that it’s not perfect. Software translation is very difficult to get right because of all of the technical jargon involved and the lack of context for the translator. But I’m sure that you, our users, know exactly how to translate something that’s on the screen into your own native language.

Well, now there’s a way for everyone to contribute to our translations. Using the OneSky service (http://www.oneskyapp.com), all of the translations for StableBit DrivePool 1.X and 2.X are now open to the public. You can review existing translations, offer alternatives, and vote on which translations are the best.

It’s all available here: http://translate.covecube.com/

Your changes will be included in future builds of StableBit DrivePool.

Oh and we can even add additional languages, just send us a note at: http://stablebit.com/Contact

StableBit DrivePool 2.0.0.400 Release Candidate

Posted in StableBit on September 6th, 2013 by alex – 3 Comments

StableBit DrivePool 2.0 is now a Release Candidate!

Version 2.0.0.400

Version 2.0.0.400

Download here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

This build will be pushed via. automatic updates to everyone using the BETA within 24 hours.

What Exactly is a RC?

As far as StableBit products are concerned a Release Candidate is built exactly like a Release Final. The idea behind having a RC is to test the Release Final build process. It’s simply a Release Final that has been renamed to a RC. A RC can be promoted to a Release Final with no rebuild.

This means that the trial BETA rules no longer apply to RC builds. Your days remaining on the trial will not reset when installing subsequent RC / Release Final builds.

What’s New Since the Last BETA

This build has a number of miscellaneous fixes and tweaks since the last BETA. Localizations are mostly complete for the following languages: Spanish, French, German, Polish, and Italian.

As always, you can check out the full change log for the details: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/ChangeLog?Platform=win

StableBit.com Updates

User Manual

User Manual

User Manual

There is a new comprehensive user manual now available for StableBit DrivePool 2.x here: http://stablebit.com/Support/DrivePool/2.X/Manual

If you like reading manuals then you should definitely check it out, it took a lot of work to put together.

PayPal

The PayPal payment system was updated to use PayPal’s latest API in order to get rid of the old and somewhat clunky “PayPal for digital goods” API.

Google Checkout

Google Checkout (or Wallet) is being retired by Google in November (see: https://support.google.com/checkout/sell/answer/3080449?hl=en), so we’ll be phasing that out soon. It will probably be replaced with Amazon payments at some point in the future.

The Bundle

Product Bundle

Product Bundle

This has been requested quite often. If you’ve never purchased either the StableBit Scanner or StableBit DrivePool you can now easily buy both with the $9.95 discount without buying each product individually.

There are also links on your order page that make it easy to buy additional copies of a product with the additional unit discount.

Buy Additional Copies

Buy Additional Copies

How far We’ve Come

The first BETA of StableBit DrivePool 2.0 came out on Feb. 1 2013, and here we are in the beginning of September 2013 with a RC. All in all, I think we’ve made pretty good time considering the scope of this release.

Here’s a list of all of the supported Operating Systems that StableBit DrivePool 2.0 runs on:

  • 64-bit Consumer:
    • Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8 (64 bit), Windows 8.1 (64 bit)
  • 64-bit Server:
    • Windows Server 2008 (64 bit), Windows Server 2008 R2 (64 bit), Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • 32-bit Consumer:
    • Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows 7 (32 bit) Windows 8 (32 bit), Windows 8.1 (32 bit)
  • 32-bit Server:
    • Windows Server 2008 (32 bit)
  • 64-bit Windows Server Solutions:
    • Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials.
    • Windows Server 2012 Essentials
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

I’ve highlighted what StableBit DrivePool 1.X supports. As you can see, that’s a lot of new Operating Systems that we now support. Plus, we have the brand new remote control system that lets you manage your pools from other computers on your LAN (without the need for a Dashboard).

The Price

StableBit DrivePool 1.0 Release Final came out on April 2 2012, almost 1 and a half years ago. It was a great release and it was priced at a very affordable $19.95. Since then we’ve added a ton of new features, including the balancing framework, multiple pool support and everything that you see in StableBit DrivePool 2.0. All of these new features come at no additional cost to our existing customers, and we’re not done yet.

We’ve added a lot of value to StableBit DrivePool since that first release, and I feel like we need to bump up the price a bit to reflect that. But don’t worry, nothing has changed yet. The price won’t be increased until a release final is published.

The future price increase does not affect our existing OEM partners. You will continue to be able to purchase client licenses at the negotiated rate.

Thank You Everyone

Thank you Christopher for offering outstanding technical support to our customers.

And thank you everyone for your great support of our products, but the best may be yet to come. Post 2.0 we may yet see some really amazing game changing features in StableBit DrivePool, if everything goes according to plan.

As always, if you like our products I ask that you spread the word. I think that StableBit DrivePool 2.0 turned out really well and I’m sure that there are many people out there who have never heard of it and may benefit from using it.

StableBit DrivePool 2.0.0.387 – Dashboard Tab

Posted in StableBit on August 22nd, 2013 by alex – Be the first to comment
WHS 2011 Dashboard Tab

WHS 2011 Dashboard Tab

Well, I guess you can say that we’ve come full circle. The latest build of StableBit DrivePool 2.0 features a WHS 2011 Dashboard tab. Not only that, it adds a Dashboard tab to any OS that has a Dashboard starting with WHS 2011, including the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Preview.

Download here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

The Dashboards

Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

To get the Dashboard tab you can simply install the latest build on any OS that has a Dashboard and the installer will recognize it and install the necessary Dashboard components.

There is no separate WSSX installer for now, perhaps we can add this in the future.

Sorting Disks

This build is mostly about miscellaneous fixes as we approach the release final, but there is another small noteworthy feature. You can now sort your pooled disks in various ways from the horizontal UI.

Sort Disks

Sort Disks

This was actually a user request turned into a feature and was a pretty simple thing to implement, so there you go.

First Pool Confusion

A common support question (and sometimes followed by panic) is:

“I’ve created my first pool, but now that I look at the pool drive, it’s empty! I thought that the message said that my files would not be altered. Where are my files from the disk that I just added ?!”

Of course the answer is simple. The files are actually not altered and are still on the original disk. By adding a disk to the pool, the files on that disk are really not altered in any way (I mean really), but the disk now contributes its free space to the pool.

To alleviate the confusion, there is now a help screen that pops up after you create your first pool.

First Pool

First Pool

Don’t worry this only shows up once to help new users understand how the pool works.

Other Fixes

Some other miscellaneous fixes in this build are:

  • Microsoft NFS Server support was fixed for Windows Server 2012.
  • The ability to add a pool part from the command line.
  • Pools without a drive letter assigned would not be recognized correctly. This was actually a big problem if your “automount” setting was disabled in Windows.

    This is what you will see now:

    No Drive Letter

    No Drive Letter

  • UI settings were getting reset on each update.
  • Some flash card readers were causing the Service to constantly update the disks list, leading to unnecessary CPU load and a slowdown of the UI.
  • All UI state is now stored in “%appdata%\StableBit DrivePool” allowing for an easy reset.

You can check out the change log for a full list of fixes in this build: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/ChangeLog?Platform=win

The Release Candidate

At this point everything needs to be tested thoroughly and hopefully we can see a RC of StableBit DrivePool 2.0 soon.

StableBit DrivePool 2.0.0.355 – Folder Duplication Improvements

Posted in StableBit on August 12th, 2013 by alex – 3 Comments

Continuing on the path to a release final for StableBit DrivePool 2.0, this build concentrates on folder duplication.

StableBit DrivePool - Folder Duplication

Folder Duplication

You can download the latest version here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

What’s New with Folder Duplication?

In short, a lot of under the hood improvements, some UI polish and the ability to duplicate (triplicate?) your files to more than two disk from the UI.

For a list of all of the technical changes, you can check out the somewhat lengthy change log over here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/ChangeLog?Platform=win

Let’s talk about some of the highlights.

UI Responsiveness

In terms of UI responsiveness, this build does for folder duplication what build 345 did for adding / removing disks. Everything should be a lot smoother and more intuitive.

Let’s dive right in with a video showcasing the updated folder duplication UI.

(make sure to select 720p quality)

The video is unedited, but I used a very small pool in order to avoid long background duplication times.

Folder Duplication Stats

As you can see in the video, one new UI element is a pie chart showing you folder duplication statistics for any folder that you select.

StableBit DrivePool - Folder Duplication Statistics

Folder Duplication Statistics

The statistics are computed in the background, in real-time, as you browse the folder duplication dialog. It gives you exact folder sizes, as they are on the disk, down to the last byte. This means that you can use the statistics as a means of verification that all of your files are actually duplicated properly.

This has been a user request for some time. Well, here it is.

StableBit DrivePool - x2 Folder Duplication

x2 Folder Duplication

This is another screen showing a x2 duplicated folder. Here you can clearly see how the pie chart serves as a quick visual cue of the proper distribution of files in that folder.

Remote Control

It’s worth reiterating that the folder duplication UI, including the new folder size statistics chart, works with remote control.

This allows you to set up centralized management of one or more servers, or the other way around, multiple clients managing one system, or any combination thereof.

Multiple Duplication Counts / Duplication Inheritance

In build 355 there are some changes to the folder duplication tags shown in the UI.

Multiple Duplication Counts

Multiple Duplication Counts

As you can see in the screenshot above, there is now a little “+” next to any folder that has one or more sub-folders with a different duplication count than itself. This is the Multiple Duplication Counts flag and it serves as a hint for you to expand that folder in order to see which sub-folders are duplicated.

Multiple Duplication Counts - Expanded

Multiple Duplication Counts – Expanded

In addition, all of the blue tags are folders that are inheriting their duplication counts from their parent folder. This is the default for all new folders, unless you change a folder’s duplication level explicitly using the folder duplication dialog.

Under the Hood Changes

There are numerous and extensive under the hood changes to how StableBit DrivePool handles the Multiple Duplication Counts and Folder Duplication Inheritance flags internally. You can see the change log for a complete explanation of them.

Concurrency

As you can see in the video, you don’t have to wait for an existing background duplication pass to complete before changing the duplication level of another folder. The system is smart enough to suspend the current background duplication pass, set the duplication count on another folder and then restart the pass now including the new folder.

In fact, every task in StableBit DrivePool, such as adding / removing disks, rebalancing, or setting a duplication count uses the same system to coordinate which tasks are allowed to run and when. That’s how we are able to change folder duplication counts even while background duplication is running.

I hope that everyone enjoys the new folder duplication improvements. Until next time.

StableBit DrivePool 2.0.0.345 – Windows 8.1 Support and More

Posted in StableBit on August 1st, 2013 by alex – 1 Comment

 

The latest build of StableBit DrivePool features Windows 8.1 Preview support and a lot of fixes.

Windows 8.1 Preview Support

Windows 8.1 Preview Support

Get it here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

Let’s talk about what’s new since build 310.

Windows 8.1 Preview Support

Well there’s really not much to say here, except that StableBit DrivePool now works correctly with Windows 8.1.

In latest builds, CoveFS for Windows 8.1 is now compiled with the development tools that Microsoft released with the Preview OS and a number of changes had to be made in the file system to make it work correctly with Windows 8.1.

If you like living on the bleeding edge, then we’ve got you covered.

UI Responsiveness

Previously, the DrivePool UI was not as responsive as it was designed to be when adding and removing disks. This is now fixed in the latest build and to demonstrate I’ve made a short video showcasing how easy it is to add and remove multiple disks to and from the pool.

(make sure to turn up the quality to 720p to get a clearer view)

As you can see, clicking the add / remove labels now gives you proper and instant feedback. Queuing up multiple disk operations is a snap, and you can see that StableBit DrivePool is even able to perform multiple simultaneous operations on different pools at the same time. For example, you can be creating a new pool, while adding or removing another disk on an existing pool.

Remote Control Updates

Remote control allows you to easily connect to and manage another system running StableBit DrivePool on your LAN.

Simply select which computer you want to connect to from the drop down at the top.

List Computers

List Computers

This by itself is not new, but we have 2 new remote control features in the latest build.

Reconnect to the Same Computer Used Last

This was a user feature request and is now implemented in the latest build.

If you were connected to a remote computer when you closed the UI, the next time that you open the UI it will automatically connect to that computer (provided that it’s still online).

It’s a very small change, but actually makes a big difference if you only have one DrivePool server and tend to manage it from many clients. We now save you 2 clicks every time you start the UI.

Static Peers

By default StableBit DrivePool uses multicast UDP packets to discover other peers to connect to. Sometimes, due to your network configuration, multicast packets can be dropped by your router.

Now in the latest build the Remote Control system can connect to static peers specified by you.

The installer now places a new XML file in:
C:\Program Files\StableBit\DrivePool\RemoteControl.default.xml

You can edit it and define your own DrivePool peers using IP addresses, Windows computer names or domains. For further instructions just open the XML file in a text editor like notepad.

Duplication Tag Consistency Check

When you enable per-folder duplication, StableBit DrivePool writes duplication tags to the directory entries on the disk in order to save the requested duplication level for that folder.

Having correct duplication tags is essential to the file protection that StableBit DrivePool provides.

How is This Possible?

You may be wondering, how can you get inconsistent duplication tags?

Here are a number of scenarios that can give you inconsistent duplication tags:

  • You enable folder duplication on a folder and then completely restore from backup one of the disks part of the pool to a state prior to when you had folder duplication enabled.
  • You disconnect one of the disks in a pool, connect it to another system running StableBit DrivePool and then disable folder duplication on that folder from the other system.
    Then you reconnect the same disk to the original system that had folder duplication enabled.
  • You enable folder duplication on a folder and then have a power failure a short time after.

The last case is actually not a problem with the latest builds. We now write the duplication tag through to the disk at the time that you enable it, but previously this could cause your duplication tags to get out of sync because the tag was cached.

What are the Consequences?

If a duplication tag gets out of sync on one or more pool parts, then any pooled files placed on that disk will not be duplicated. In addition, the folder might appear to be duplicated or not in the UI.

Can This be Addressed?

Yes, and it is no longer a problem in the latest build.

Every time that a pool arrives in a system, we kick off a duplication tag consistency check. The check is very fast and only traverses folders that have duplication tags set on them. The check makes sure that all the tags are valid and it checks every disk part of the pool and ensures that all the tags on each disk are in sync.

If a tag is missing or malformed an intelligent conflict resolution algorithm is run to construct a new repaired tag. The algorithm uses the available information in the conflicting tags, but if it’s in doubt it assumes that the folder was duplicated. After constructing the repaired tag it overwrites the old tags with the repaired one. It then kicks off a full duplication check over the entire pool, duplicating any files that are not duplicated.

This fixes any future such issues and also repairs pools with existing conflicting tags.

Miscellaneous Fixes

There are many other miscellaneous fixes to lockups and crashes in the latest build.

You can consult the full change log on the download page: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

At this point StableBit DrivePool 2.0 BETA is on the fast track to a release final. All outstanding issues are being addressed and everything is being finalized. Hopefully we’ll have a RC after a few more builds.

StableBit DrivePool 1.3.3 Release Final

Posted in StableBit on July 23rd, 2013 by alex – Be the first to comment

StableBit DrivePool 1.3.3.7563 is now available for download as a release final for the folks who are using the Windows Home Server 2011.

Windows Home Server 2011 - NFS Server

Windows Home Server 2011 – NFS Server

Get it here: http://stablebit.com/DrivePool/Download

Along with the usual bunch of fixes (a lot of them based on your feedback – thank you) StableBit DrivePool now supports the Microsoft NFS server out of the box.

NFS Server Support

(I know this is going to get a bit technical, but this feature has been requested enough times that I think many of you will find it useful.)

For those of you who don’t know what NFS is, it’s a different file sharing protocol typically used on UNIX and Linux machines. It’s also supported by standalone media players (such as BOXEE) and generally offers much better performance than the built in Windows SMB protocol.

In my testing I’ve seen nearly a 10x increase in throughput on BOXEE in particular.

Unfortunately there is no Dashboard integration for NFS and so it must be set up by logging into the server using Remote Desktop.

NFS Role

NFS Service

Here are the general instructions on how to enable NFS support:

  • Log into the server using Remote Desktop as Administrator.
  • Open up the Server Manager.
  • Navigate to Roles -> File Services.
  • Click Add Role Services.
  • Check Services for Network File System and complete the wizard.
NFS Share

NFS Share

Now to share a folder over NFS:

  • Open up Windows Explorer.
  • Navigate to the pool drive.
  • Right click on the folder that you wish to share over NFS and click Properties.
  • Select the NFS Sharing tab and click Manage NFS Sharing…

    • Check Share this folder.
    • (optional) Click Permissions and check Allow root access, then click OK.
    • Click OK.
  • Click Close.
NFS Share - Permissions

NFS Share – Permissions

Based on my testing with BOXEE, the optional step that I’ve included will enable BOXEE to see and access the NFS share without issues.

Open by File ID

In order to implement NFS support, CoveFS now supports the open by file ID functionality. This means that applications can request an ID for any file in the system and then open that file by using the ID instead of the path name. Open by file ID support is required by the Microsoft NFS server and that is why it didn’t work on the pool.

If you’re absolutely sure that you don’t need file ID support on the pool, you can turn it off by disabling CoveFs_OpenByFileId. For more information see: http://wiki.covecube.com/StableBit_DrivePool_Advanced_Settings

StableBit DrivePool 2.0 – Windows 8.1 Preview Support

On a completely separate note, I’d just like to mention that StableBit DrivePool 2.0 BETA is getting Windows 8.1 support in the next build coming very soon, and I’ll talk about that in my next post.