StableBit

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.2.929 BETA

Posted in StableBit on September 12th, 2017 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.2.929 BETA

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.2.929 BETA

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.2.929 BETA is now out.

Get it here: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Download

In addition to some bug fixes and optimizations, this release offers better compatibility with the forthcoming StableBit DrivePool BETA. When used together with StableBit DrivePool, you will be able to create all kinds of hierarchical pools, some of which can even be cloud and local hybrid pools. You will also be able to set individual folder duplication and file placement rules at each point of the pooling hierarchy.

Look for the new StableBit DrivePool BETA and much more information about hierarchical pooling coming very soon.

Minimum Download Size

One important optimization that is new in this version of StableBit CloudDrive is native support for a minimum download size.

Minimum Download Size

When set, StableBit CloudDrive will try to optimize your cloud drive’s read speed by always trying its best to download at least this much data from the storage provider, regardless of how much data is actually being read from the disk. The extra data that’s not needed is stored in the local cache (with a lower priority), just in case it’s needed in the future.

This new setting is implemented in the low level kernel disk driver itself for the best performance possible, and it also coordinates with the prefetcher to ensure that the prefetched data is using the correct block size.

Most storage providers will now default to a 1 MB minimum download size, but you can certainly increase that or even disable it completely at any time.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.1.879 Release Final

Posted in StableBit on June 8th, 2017 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.1.879 Release Final

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.1.879 is now available for download.

Get it here: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Download

If you’re using Dropbox with StableBit CloudDrive, you should update to this version soon because Dropbox is discontinuing their older v1 API by the end of this month (June 2017). This version of StableBit CloudDrive implements the v2 Dropbox API, which Dropbox is requiring from all 3rd party applications.

Read-only Drives

A new read-only mode is now available in StableBit CloudDrive. When enabled, a cloud drive will report as a read-only medium, and it will actively reject any write I/O requests directed to it.

With the prevalence of ransomware today, this option can be useful in thwarting such malware from modifying the data on your cloud drive.

Mount Disconnected

A new option to mount your cloud drives in disconnected mode is now available for data recovery and troubleshooting purposes.

If you ever permanently lose access to your storage provider, it is now possible to mount any attached cloud drives without connecting to the storage provider.

Simply select Mount Disconnected from the Troubleshooting menu and click Retry…

Your cloud drive will now be mounted without connecting to the storage provider. It will use whatever data is available in the local cache in order to complete the drive mount. In disconnected mode, the cloud drive will remain read-only, and certain functionality, such as drive resizing, will not be available.

If you are able to restore the connection to your storage provider, you can exit disconnected mode by choosing the Reconnect… option under Manage Drive.

Edit: StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.1.880 fixes a small but significant bug that was present in the driver unload code of 1.0.1.879.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.870 Release Final

Posted in StableBit on May 11th, 2017 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.870 Release Final

StableBit CloudDrive

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.870 Release Final is now available for download.

Get it here: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Download

What’s New

There were a number of fixes implemented here since the last 1.0.0.854 RC, some based on user feedback (thank you), and some based on internal testing.

For a full change log, see: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/ChangeLog

User Manual

User Manual

A comprehensive new user manual is now available for StableBit CloudDrive.

Check it out here: https://stablebit.com/Support/CloudDrive/Manual

The FAQ for StableBit CloudDrive has also received a few minor updates: https://stablebit.com/Support/CloudDrive/Faq

Pricing

The pricing structure for StableBit CloudDrive now includes Small Business and Enterprise licensing options.

See https://stablebit.com/Buy/CloudDrive for all of the available purchasing options.

Amazon Drive

Amazon Drive (formerly Amazon Cloud Drive) is now deprecated in StableBit CloudDrive. Amazon has never approved us for use with their service, and as a result, you will no longer be able to create new Amazon Drive cloud drives in this version.

In order to give you access to your existing Amazon Drive cloud drives, experimental drives will continue to mount and work as they did in previous versions.

Going Forward

Once again, thank you everyone who tested the BETA, it was great to get all of that feedback. Today, there are 0 bugs open for StableBit CloudDrive in our system. But that doesn’t mean that we’re done.

If you do encounter further issues using the software, please let us know at https://stablebit.com/Contact, and we will work on resolving your issues.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.854 RC

Posted in StableBit on March 10th, 2017 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.854 RC

With version 1.0.0.854 StableBit CloudDrive enters the Release Candidate stage.

Release Candidate

Download it here: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Download

Once again, a big thank you to everyone who helped test the BETA of this product and who reported issues to us, it makes the product all that much better to use for everyone. If you do encounter any additional issues, please don’t hesitate to report those at https://stablebit.com/Contact so that they can be identified and fixed up.

Pre-release Drives

Any existing cloud drives that were created prior to the 1.0 RC will show a “pre-release” banner.

Pre-release

Although the RC is fully backwards compatible with all of the previous BETAs, the back-end functionality may have changed since, and those pre-release drives may not be utilizing the most optimal code paths. For example, there may be newer validation algorithms available, better data organization patterns, or simply that the default settings for new drives may have changed.

To get the best experience in StableBit CloudDrive, ideally, your drives should be created with version 1.0.0.854 or newer.

Additional Providers

We’ve got a bunch of requests for additional storage providers, and those will start to be added after the 1.0 release final is out. If you do want to see a particular provider added, please do let us know at https://stablebit.com/Contact.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.777 BETA

Posted in StableBit on December 7th, 2016 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.777 BETA

The next testing milestone of StableBit CloudDrive is here and it’s version 1.0.0.777 BETA.

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

Automatic updates should be going out to older versions within the next day or so.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.777 BETA

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.777 BETA

What’s New

As you can probably tell from the large jump in the version number (from 1.0.0.463), a lot of changes have gone into this new BETA, and a lot of testing has gone into it as well. While there are some new features in this version, first and foremost, this version is primarily focused on fixing bugs and improving stability. Writing some new tests was also a big priority for this BETA, and this version has passed a number of important tests, including new data consistency tests and power failure tests.

If you’d like to see the details, the full change log with all of the fixes is available here, as always: http://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/ChangeLog

But aside from the fixes, here’s a summary of the major new features in this version (as compared to 1.0.0.463):

  • New cache types (expandable, fixed, proportional).
  • ReFS support for cloud drives (Windows 8 and newer).
  • FTP / FTPS / SFTP provider.

About Backwards Compatibility

While version 1.0.0.777 is fully backwards compatible with 1.0.0.463, you should know that some under-the-hood features may not be enabled on drives created with a version prior to 1.0.0.777. For example, always-on encryption and file ID optimizations will not be enabled if you’ve created your drive with version 1.0.0.463. This is mostly a technical distinction, and functionally, any drives created with version 1.0.0.463 or older should continue to work in version 1.0.0.777.

Now let’s dive into the new cache types.

New Cache Types

Cache Types

Cache Types

StableBit CloudDrive now supports a new setting that will let you specify the cache type to use for your new cloud drive.

3 cache types are now supported:

  • Fixed
  • Proportional
  • Expandable (default)

Let’s see how each one works.

Local Cache

Let’s begin by imagining that you have a 500 GB volume that you would like to use for your cloud drive’s cache, and that it already has 200 GB worth of files on it.

Local Disk

Your existing files on that drive won’t be affected by the StableBit CloudDrive cache.

Fixed

Let’s talk about the fixed cache type first because this is the easiest one to understand. Fixed simply means that the on-disk cache will strive to never exceed the preset cache size. So whatever you set the cache size to, that’s the maximum amount of local disk space that it will consume.

Let’s imagine that you created a 100 GB cache on your 500 GB drive:

Fixed Cache

As you use your cloud drive, StableBit CloudDrive will learn which data on your cloud drive is accessed most frequently and it will automatically cache that data locally in the on-disk cache for faster access.

The fixed cache is very simple, but it has some disadvantages. Let’s see what happens when you copy some new data onto the cloud drive:

Leaned / To Upload

As you write new files onto your cloud drive, StableBit CloudDrive will store the newly written data in the local cache and queue it up for upload. By writing the newly copied data directly to the cache, StableBit CloudDrive ensures that the file copy operation to your cloud drive completes as quickly as possible.

Once uploading completes, the data that was just uploaded remains in the cache:

Learned / New

As you may have noticed, by simply writing data to the cloud drive, you have overwritten some of the learned portion of the cache (the adaptive part of the cache that holds the most frequently accessed cloud data).

Let’s see what happens when you try to copy some more data to a cloud drive that is using a fixed cache:

To Upload

As you can see, the entire learned portion of the cache has now been overwritten with data that needs to be uploaded:

New

Once uploading completes, the cache has now lost all of its learned data, and it must relearn and re-download the data that is accessed most frequently.

Fixed cache advantages:

  • Has a predictable fixed size.
  • Maximizes write speeds by utilizing the entire size of the fixed cache.

Disadvantages:

  • Writing to the cloud drive will overwrite any learned data in the cache.

Overall, the fixed cache is optimized for accessing recently written data over the most frequently accessed data. If that’s what you’re looking for then the fixed cache is perfect for that. But for a more balanced approach, let’s take a look at the proportional cache type.

Proportional

The proportional cache type is similar to the fixed cache in that it also has a fixed size. But in addition to the size of the cache, a proportional cache allows you to define how much of the cache should be used to store data that needs to be uploaded versus data that is learned.

Once that proportion is defined, when you write new data to the cloud drive, only a part of the cache will be used to speed up the writes, while the other part will always be used to store the most frequently accessed data.

Proportional

Once uploading is complete, one part of the cache is used to store learned data and the other part will contain new data.

Proportional / New

The proportional threshold ensures that newly written data never overwrites the learned data.

Proportional cache advantages:

  • Has a predictable fixed size.
  • Does not overwrite the entire portion of the learned cache with newly written data.

Disadvantages:

  • This cache type is the least optimized for writes to the cloud drive.

Next, let’s look at the most optimal cache type, the expandable cache.

Expandable (default)

The expandable cache is optimized for the fastest reads and writes to and from the cloud drive. However, unlike the fixed and the proportional cache types, the expandable cache does not have a predictable fixed size.

When you write data to a cloud drive with an expandable cache, those writes will expand the cache’s size past its set limit. While the cache will expand as new data is written to the cloud drive, it will never consume all of the free space that is available on the volume. It will always maintain some free space as a buffer at all times by throttling the writes to the cloud drive when necessary.

Expandable

This ensures that the newly written data never overwrites any previously learned data, while at the same time, it optimized the writes to the cloud drive by utilizing most of the free space that is available on the cache volume.

Once uploading completes, the cache shrinks back down to its preset size and the previously learned data is not affected.

Learned

 

Advantages of the expandable cache:

  • Optimizes writes by utilizing most of the free space on the cache drive, while making sure that the cache drive doesn’t run out of disk space.
  • Optimizes reads by never overwriting previously learned data.

Disadvantages:

  • Does not have a predictable fixed size.
  • May consume large amounts of disk space when a lot of new data is written to the cloud drive.

The expandable cache type is the default and the recommended cache type in StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.777, and it was the only (implicit) cache type in 1.0.0.463.

ReFS Support

Another new feature in StableBit CloudDrive version 1.0.0.777 is ReFS support. StableBit CloudDrive can now format newly created cloud drives with the ReFS file system. When creating a new cloud drive, look under “Advanced Settings”, and you will be able to choose ReFS as the file system when using Windows 8 or newer.

ReFS

ReFS

ReFS is a Microsoft file system that is designed to be more resilient in the face of data corruption, but it may reduce the cloud drive’s overall performance by introducing some additional overhead. ReFS is only compatible with Microsoft Windows 8 and newer. Cloud drives formatted with the ReFS file system will not mount on older operating systems. So if you ever expect to attach a cloud drive to Windows 7 or older, do not use ReFS.

FTP / FTPS / SFTP Provider

In addition to ReFS support, StableBit CloudDrive now has comprehensive support for FTP, FTPS and SFTP. You can now create new cloud drives that store their data on FTP sites.

FTP

FTP

FTP over SSL is also supported (in both implicit and explicit modes), which includes the optional use of client certificates for authentication.

FTPS

FTPS

FTP over SSH support is available as well with optional private key authentication and certificate based authentication.

Kerberos based authentication (Domain\User) for FTPS can be used as well:

FTP Kerberos

FTP Kerberos

Maximum Connections

One potential issue with FTP is that it’s not uncommon for FTP servers to limit the number of connections that a user is allowed to make, and this can present a bit of a problem for StableBit CloudDrive. While there was always a way to configure the number of download and upload threads that StableBit CloudDrive uses, those threads do not necessarily correspond to connections. In the StableBit CloudDrive I/O pipeline, threads can be split or joined depending on the exact I/O operation being performed, and in certain instance, extra threads can be spawned on demand in a “thread boost” operation as well.

In order to address this strict connection limit requirement for FTP, version 1.0.0.777 introduces a new “Maximum connections” setting to the I/O performance window.

Maximum Connections

Maximum Connections

This setting is only available for providers that are sensitive to the connection count (FTP only for now), and it starts off at a very conservative default of 2. You can of course increase or decrease this connection limit (or turn it off altogether) depending on the FTP server that you’re connecting to, but if enabled, it must be greater than the upload thread count. The reason for that, is that you always want to have at least one connection available for downloads in order to maintain reasonable drive performance.

Going Forward

I expect this to be the last public BETA of StableBit CloudDrive and hopefully a 1.0 release final is not far behind. Of course the exact timing of that will depend on any future feedback and bug reports that we receive.

If you do experience issues with this BETA, as always, please let us know here: https://stablebit.com/Contact

Aside from any critical bugs that are found, fit and finish is going to be the focus as we approach the 1.0 release final. This includes finishing up the documentation and making usability tweaks to the UI.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for testing all of the StableBit CloudDrive BETAs that we’ve had so far, and reporting any issues encountered. Quite a bit of the fixes in 1.0.0.777 came straight from user feedback, and that just makes the software that much more stable for everyone.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.463 BETA

Posted in StableBit on February 19th, 2016 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.463 BETA

The next public BETA of StableBit CloudDrive is now available for download.

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

Providers

Providers

For a full change log visit: http://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/ChangeLog?Platform=win

New Providers

First off, let me mention that this build adds support for Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive is no longer marked as an “Experimental” provider. So that’s 2 more providers that are now available for use.

Message Authentication Code

Any newly created encrypted cloud drives will now use a HMAC code to verify that your encrypted data was not tampered with.

Previous BETAs of StableBit CloudDrive had used CRC32 in order to verify that the your data stored in the provider had not been corrupted, but CRC32 does nothing to protect your encrypted data from malicious modification (and that was never the intent).

Theoretically speaking, even when not using authentication, your data is safe. Without knowing your encryption key, an attacker would not be able to modify the encrypted blobs of data to achieve some specific result. But nevertheless, it’s good security policy to authenticate any encrypted data before trying to decrypt it. This is more of a belt and suspenders approach, where if there were some weakness discovered in AES in the future, an attacker would not be able to craft a maliciously encrypted blob to take advantage of that weakness, without knowing the HMAC key.

HMAC

HMAC

You can tell whether HMAC is in use on your encrypted drive by hovering your mouse over the yellow lock icon.

As a side note, full drive encryption products (like Microsoft’s BitLocker) typically don’t use any kind of authentication, just encryption.

Larger Chunk Sizes

As you know, StableBit CloudDrive stores its data in fixed sized chunks, in the cloud provider of your choice (or locally). In previous BETAs, for all cloud providers, the maximum chunk size was 1 MB. In the latest BETA, this is no longer the case. Now, all cloud providers default to storing their data in 10 MB sized chunks (and you can even increase that, if you’d like). This is important for optimizing StableBit CloudDrive for higher bandwidth connections, and reducing overhead associated with making each upload request.

This is a very comprehensive change. For example, the way that StableBit CloudDrive does data validation is now completely different. Instead of validating whole chunks, StableBit CloudDrive can now validate your data in unit sizes, and these units can be smaller than a chunk. In addition, in-memory chunk caching now occurs in unit sizes as well.

Chunk Information

Chunk Information

As you can see in the screenshot above, even though the chunk size is 10MB, validation is happening over 1 MB units. This makes it possible to download a part of a chunk, while still being able to verify its data integrity and authenticity.

Because this changes the format of how the data is stored, this only applies to new cloud drives created after this change was implemented. You can check whether your cloud drive is using large chunk sizes by hovering your mouse over the total drive size (as it’s shown above).

Server Throttling Indicator

Server Throttling

Server Throttling

For high bandwidth users, it is perfectly normal to have the server send throttling responses, and StableBit CloudDrive does respect them and perform exponential back-off to give the server some breathing room. In this build, when this happens, you’ll see an indicator in the bandwidth bar that shows either upload throttling or download throttling taking place.

Tool Tip

Tool Tip

You can hover over the turtle icon for more information.

What’s Next?

In addition to the things that I’ve mentioned here, there were a lot of other tweaks and fixes based on reported issues. So thank you everyone for submitting in those bug reports.

As for the timing of the release final, I’m hopeful that this will be the last public BETA, and that the next release will be a Release Candidate. Shortly after that, a Release Final will be made available.

StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.403 BETA

Posted in StableBit on October 30th, 2015 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit CloudDrive 1.0.0.403 BETA

The second public BETA of StableBit CloudDrive is now available for download. It includes a lot of bug fixes, official Windows 10 support, and more.

Windows 10

Download it here: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Download

Anyone using the first BETA (or any of our internal BETAs) will see an automatic update notification within 24 hours.

Reliability Improvements

First and foremost, I should say that this BETA is focused almost entirely on improving the reliability of StableBit CloudDrive and fixing all of the issues that were discovered with the last BETA after it was made public. Some of those issues were fairly serious and some of them were fairly complicated to resolve, but we did resolve them in a comprehensive and meaningful way.

If you’d like a glimpse at all of the fixes, take a look at the full change log:
https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/ChangeLog?Platform=win

I do thank everyone for testing the last BETA and reporting issues. Many of your reports did turn into direct bug fixes.

UI Tweaks

While most of the changes in this build were focused on fixing bugs, some UI tweaks were made as well.

Windows 10 support is an important part of this build and in terms of UI, the StableBit CloudDrive window will now be drawn properly on Windows 10. It will also animate properly when minimized, maximized, and snapped to the edge of the screen.

Animation

Additionally, if you hover over the “To upload” text in the local pie chart you will get an estimate of how long it will take to upload everything, given the current upload speed.

To Upload

User feedback was tweaked as well. The amount of superfluous user feedback should now be minimized, and some user feedback messages were tweaked for clarity.

OAuth 2.0

OAuth 2.0

The OAuth 2.0 code was completely rewritten in order to provider a more consistent, easier to use, and a more reliable experience. This is a comprehensive rewrite of all the code, from the user interface, to the back-end that manages OAuth 2.0, to the storage code that stores your encrypted credentials on your computer.

The new system is backwards compatible with the old system, except for Google Cloud Storage. This is due to the fact that, in the first BETA, Google Cloud Storage used the Google SDK to store the OAuth 2.0 data. In the latest BETA, we centralized the OAuth 2.0 code, and we are now handing that for all of the providers that utilize OAuth 2.0.

OAuth 2.0

This means that if you have a cloud drive utilizing Google Cloud Storage and you upgrade to the latest BETA you will be asked to reauthorize your drive. Don’t worry, this is fairly simple and you will be guided through the process.

The Amazon Cloud Drive Debacle

Amazon Cloud Drive

Unfortunately, I am sad to announce that (for now) the Amazon Cloud Drive provider is no longer supported for production use with our product. This is something that we’ve been going back and forth with Amazon about for a while. So we do have a dialog open with the Amazon Cloud Drive team regarding this issue, and we are trying to find a mutually agreeable solution. I am very hopeful that we can resolve this before the 1.0 release final.

The problem comes from the fact that StableBit CloudDrive scales really well… Given sufficient bandwidth, it will saturate your uplink until the weakest link in the chain fails. From the emails that we’ve received from Amazon, this seems to be causing server load issues for Amazon.

Because of this, for now, the Amazon Cloud Drive provider will be classified as an “Experimental Provider”. If you’re currently using the Amazon Cloud Drive provider, you should stop doing so, at least until we can reach some sort of agreement with the Amazon team on how we can best resolve this situation.

Hopefully Amazon can come up with a comprehensive solution that will work for everyone.

Introducing StableBit CloudDrive

Posted in StableBit on May 28th, 2015 by alex – Comments Off on Introducing StableBit CloudDrive

I am very pleased to announce that today we are launching a brand new product called StableBit CloudDrive as a public BETA.

StableBit CloudDrive

StableBit CloudDrive aims to be the best way to securely store your data in the cloud on Microsoft Windows.

You can download it here: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Download

What it Does

  • StableBit CloudDrive creates a new virtual drive on your PC that stores its data in the cloud.
  • You can optionally encrypt your entire cloud drive with a key that only you know for trust no one full drive encryption.
  • StableBit CloudDrive learns which data you access most frequently and stores that data in a cache on one of your local drives for quicker access.

You can also use it locally in order to create fully encrypted virtual drives.

For a full set of features you can take a look at: https://stablebit.com/CloudDrive/Features

StableBit CloudDrive is an Actual Drive

A Real Drive

StableBit CloudDrive answers the question, how can we best extend the Microsoft Windows operating system to support secure (encrypted) cloud storage?

The answer is, we emulate our own virtual drive in the kernel with full Plug and Play support. Because this emulated drive is not a physical drive, there is actually nothing physically attached to the system, but as far as Microsoft Windows is concerned it looks and acts just like a real physical drive.

Why is this important?

A cloud drive created by StableBit CloudDrive is compatible with almost all of your existing applications and integrates very well with existing Operating System level features. With full drive encryption enabled, it’s also fully secure against any adversaries who might want to get access to your data.

Encryption

Full Drive Encryption

StableBit CloudDrive features trust no one full drive encryption, giving you piece of mind that your data is safe from any adversaries.

StableBit CloudDrive’s full drive encryption doesn’t only encrypt your data in the cloud, it also makes sure that any data stored locally in the on-disk cache is encrypted as well.

In fact, StableBit CloudDrive encrypts your data as soon as it’s written to the cloud drive and decrypts it only when it’s read, offering full round trip encryption. This means that at no point is your encrypted data written to disk in an unencrypted form, either locally or in the cloud.

Performance

In order to optimize performance, StableBit CloudDrive features a number of important optimizations, one of which is local caching.

Local Caching

Create a New Drive

When creating a new cloud drive, you have the option of specifying how much data you would like to be cached locally.

Over time, StableBit CloudDrive will learn which data is accessed most frequently on your cloud drive and it will store that data locally for quicker access.

A Different Type of Cache

If you’ve ever heard of the Operating System’s cache, this is not that. This is a new type of cache that sits between the Operating System’s in-memory cache and the cloud. It was specifically designed in order to optimize accessing data from the cloud. It’s typically much larger than the in-memory cache that the Operating System maintains, and so it’s able to cache far more data.

This means that you need to access the cloud less frequently, giving your drive better performance and a better overall user experience.

The Prefetcher

Prefetcher

StableBit CloudDrive also features its own prefetcher on top of the local cache. This prefetcher detects sequential data access and starts pre-downloading data that you are about to read in advance.

This is perfect for playing back media smoothly directly from the cloud (provided that you have sufficient bandwidth).

It’s a BETA

StableBit CloudDrive has been in development for over a year now and it was mostly written entirely from scratch (some code was borrowed from StableBit DrivePool, but mostly everything is brand new). StableBit CloudDrive doesn’t use any 3rd party “disk in a box” solutions, everything was custom written in order to ensure the best possible implementation.

But, keep in mind that this is a 1.0 BETA, and so you will be testing a product that is still in development and there are bound to be issues that you may encounter.

If you do encounter a problem, you can let us know here: https://stablebit.com/Contact

StableBit CloudDrive and the StableBit Scanner

When using StableBit CloudDrive together with the StableBit Scanner you get an additional benefit of having the file system on your cloud drive scanned periodically for damage.

You should ideally use StableBit Scanner 2.5.2.3100 or newer when using it together with StableBit CloudDrive. Older versions of the StableBit Scanner will recognize your cloud drive as a regular disk and will attempt to scan its surface. While there’s nothing technically wrong with that, and it will work, it will cause excessive bandwidth usage and it’s something that is off by default in StableBit Scanner 2.5.2.3100.

Pricing Changes

As of today, we are changing our pricing structure.

Here are the new prices of a personal retail license for new customers:

StableBit CloudDrive Pre-Order

For new customers who are purchasing a personal retail license for StableBit CloudDrive, there is going to be a flat $5 discount for all pre-orders while the initial 1.0 BETA is ongoing.

Existing Customers

Existing customers get $10 off of the retail price of each product.

To get the discount:
  1. Visit: https://stablebit.com/Buy
  2. Enter your existing Activation ID at the bottom of that page in order to apply your discount.

The StableBit Bundle

New customers can purchase all of our products for $54.95 (which will go up to $59.95 after the initial StableBit CloudDrive BETA is over).

It’s the best deal and of course includes all future updates and gives you the option of purchasing any future products at a discount.

Buy the bundle here: https://stablebit.com/Buy

StableBit Scanner 2.5.1.3062 Release Final

Posted in StableBit on October 2nd, 2014 by alex – Comments Off on StableBit Scanner 2.5.1.3062 Release Final

StableBit Scanner 2.5.1.3062 is now available as a release final.

StableBit Scanner – 2.5.1.3062

Get it here:
https://stablebit.com/Scanner/Download

Compared to StableBit Scanner version 2.4, this version is a massive upgrade, perhaps the biggest one we’ve done yet.

What’s New in 2.5

As the 2.5 BETA was progressing, I’ve been covered some of the new features in previous blog posts, so I won’t go into too much detail on those topics here.

Remote Control

StableBit Scanner 2.5 – Remote Control

Remote control is a way to manage your StableBit Scanner installation from another machine on your LAN. It’s fully automatic and super simple to use.

I’ve previously posted about it here.

New Notification Options

StableBit Scanner 2.5 – Notification

The StableBit Scanner 2.5 features a completely brand new notification system. You can receive notifications via Email, SMS, Speech, Twitter, or you can have them sent to your mobile devices (Android / iOS / Windows Phone / Windows).

You can read up on this new feature here.

Cloud Integration Enhancements

StableBit Scanner 2.5 – Disk Details

This actually took a lot of work, and is something that’s mostly invisible to the user, but I think that it was important and worth it, as it greatly improves the quality of the product as a whole.

Here’s a summary of what this means:

  • First of all, thanks to an update to the engine that powers the StableBit Scanner’s unique SMART interpretation system, the StableBit Scanner now knows about more specific information about each drive model. Things such as the maximum operating temperature and drive reliability figures are now available for each drive model.
  • This lets us do much more intelligent temperature control and customized overheat warnings, depending on the the use case scenario (Desktop vs Server vs Laptop, etc..). Everything is automatically configured for you, but you can tweak the settings if you want to.
  • The new data also enables us to issue more intelligent SMART warnings. For example, the StableBit Scanner now knows about the maximum load cycle count, per drive model, so it uses that information to determine when to issue a warning.
  • When available, the warranty period and drive reliability information are now available under Disk Details.

You can read more about these improvements here.

SSD SMART Interpretation Improvements

Since SSDs operate fundamentally differently than hard drives, the typical set of SMART interpretation rules that apply to spinning drives mostly don’t apply to SSDs. But unfortunately, instead of using one unified set of SMART attributes for all SSDs, each SSD controller manufacturer has chosen to use their own proprietary set. To make things worse, they generally refuse to publish their SMART specifications, which makes interpreting SSD SMART data correctly all that much more difficult.

But this is where the StableBit Scanner can really shine. Because our SMART interpretation rules are cloud powered, we can keep them updated with new rules as new SSDs are released, without pushing out software updates. So your SMART data can actually improve over time as our SMART interpretation rules evolve.

I am proud to say that, as of right now, the StableBit Scanner has SMART interpretation rules for every SSD that it has ever seen, and it can only get better from here. This took a lot of effort and I’d like to make a point of it.

I’d also like to thank those who have chosen to submit their SMART data to BitFlock, this helps us improve our SMART interpretation rules and makes our job a little easier.

New UI Themes

I’d categorize this as a nicety, as it doesn’t really improve the core functionality of the product, but it was requested a number of times, so here you go.

StableBit Scanner – Flat UI

You can read a bit more about the new themes here.

StableBit Scanner 3.0

Let’s talk a bit about the future of the StableBit Scanner.

I think that the StableBit Scanner 2.X line turned out nicely and is a worthy followup to StableBit Scanner 1.0 (which ran on the original Windows Home Server). But it’s time to grow the software into something bigger.

StableBit Scanner 3.0 will be the next major release and it will add a fantastic new capability to the core scanning engine, among other features. I don’t want to talk about this yet but I can’t wait to get a BETA of this out to the public, it may just knock your socks off.

StableBit Scanner 3.0 will also feature StableBit Cloud integration. The exact specifics of the StableBit Cloud are still being fleshed out and I’ll talk about it in some detail once there’s a working prototype.

You can read some more about the StableBit Cloud and how its development is progressing on our development wiki right here:
http://wiki.covecube.com/Development_Status#StableBit_Cloud

You can also find a list of some of the other things that we’re working on right now on that wiki.

Our Next Product

Coming up next, we’ll introduce a brand new StableBit product called StableBit CloudDrive. Stablebit CloudDrive is a huge project, on the scale of Stablebit DrivePool, and has been in development since late 2013.

I’ll have a blog post ready along with some screenshots, once I have a 1.0 public BETA.

Why using StableBit Scanner is a good idea

Posted in StableBit on October 2nd, 2014 by Christopher Courtney – Comments Off on Why using StableBit Scanner is a good idea

Hello, I’m Christopher, and I’m the Director of Customer Relations here at Covecube Inc. For those that may not recognize me, I have been very active in the Windows Home Server community, where I usually go by the username of “Drashna”. I have even been awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for Windows Home Server for the tech support I’ve provided in the forums and how-to guides that I’ve written for Windows Home Server.

We tend to get a lot of questions about the StableBit Scanner, what it does and some of the values that it presents. So let me try to answer some of those questions here, and explain a bit more about what the StableBit Scanner does, and why it’s a great utility for maintaining the health of your disks.

I will apologize now for for the amount of text here. There is a lot of information that I want to cover, and I don’t want to skim over any of it. So if you will bear with me, let’s cover exactly what the StableBit Scanner does, and why you should install it.

S.M.A.R.T. Data

First, lets talk about the SMART data that the StableBit Scanner is able to pull from the disks. This data is pretty much universally accessible on any drive you can buy, whether it’s a “spinning” hard drive, or if it is a Solid State Drive. Most of the information is pretty standard, but there are some more device specific values depending on the manufacturer of the device. And there are plenty of utilities out there to read the SMART data from your disk. For the most part, they all read the SMART data from the disks and interpret that data in a meaningful way for users. Some just show the raw output and let you know if the values are outside of manufacturer specification.

Let’s talk about some of these SMART values and what they mean for your system. It’s always a good idea to know what’s going on.

  • Reallocated Sector Count” and “Reallocation Event Count” is probably the value that you will see increasing most often. What this means is that the disk has detected an issue with a bad section of the disk, and has reallocated the sectors to a special reserved (spare) area on the disk. This happens automatically, and prevents the disk from using these spots in the future.
    This is normal, and typical on a HDD and one or two appearing once in a while isn’t necessarily a bad sign. However, if you see this value rapidly increase on a disk, or you have a lot of them, then there may be damage to the physical medium of the drive and you may want to replace it immediately.
    Though, as this value increases, the performance of the disk may be adversely affected. The remapped data will be at another location on the drive, causing the read speed to be decreased due to “seek time” for the new location. And the more Reallocated sectors you see, the more that this will happen. So if performance is very important, it may be worth replacing the drive sooner rather than later.
  • Spin Retry Count” is a value only found on HDDs, obviously. It shows the number of times that the drive has failed to spin up to full speed and had to retry to spin it up. This indicates a serious mechanical failure of the platters. There are a number of possible causes, but none are good. It means that you should remove the data from the drive immediately and replace the disk.
  • Current Pending Sector Count” and “Uncorrectable Sector Count”  – These two values tend to go hand in hand. These means that the disk has encountered issues reading from the drive. In fact, if you force a surface scan at this point, you may end up with the same number (or more) sectors as indicated by this value. The drive will attempt to write to these sectors eventually, and when that happens, it’s either able to and clears this value for that sector or it fails and forces the disk to remap the sector. By “remap”, I mean that this will trigger a “Reallocated Sector Count” increase. This all happens automatically in the course of normal usage. Things like a full format, writing zeros to the disk, or utilities such as SpinRite try to force this process to happen quicker.
  • Load Cycle Count” – This is a value that we get asked about a lot and one that can rapidly increase. Specifically, this is the number of head parking cycles that the drive has performed. Parking the heads is a normal process of the drive, and helps prevent accidentally damage to the drive. This occurs when the drive idles. Depending on how this is configured on the drive, and how active the drive is, this can grow very slowly or can increase by 100 or more in a single hour. Western Digital Green drives are particularly notorious for being poorly configured and rapidly increasing the count.So this is a value that should be taken with a grain of salt. Watch it yourself, and if only slowly increases, then you may be able to trust that it’s accurate. And in that case, it may be a good indicator of age and usage. However, this value doesn’t necessarily indicate an issue. It’s much like the “Power on hours” or similar statistical information.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, by any means. But these are some of the most common SMART warnings you will see. And definitely, some of the more important values to know.

SMART data can be a good indicator of mechanical problems, however, it is reactive technology, for the most part. It’s designed to predict immediate failure, and it can’t predict into the future the exact point in time at which the drive will fail, and it’s not designed to. It’s akin to klaxons on a ship, letting you know that something is wrong, and to scramble to fix the issue.

That brings us to the next subject.

Surface Scanning

Now for the “blood and guts” of what the StableBit Scanner does.

By default, the StableBit Scanner is configured to do a surface scan of the disks in the system. What do I mean by a “surface scan”? The StableBit Scanner does a sector by sector scan of the entire disk, ensuring that each and every sector on the drive is readable. And when it finds sectors that are not readable, it flags them and keeps on scanning the rest of the disk.

Now, why is this important? Because after time, the “bits” on the disk may degrade. Over time, if the data is not accessed at all, it can lose it’s stored state and this is what is referred to as “bit rot” usually (different from “random bit flips”). By reading this, it gives the drive’s onboard diagnostics tools the opportunity to repair  the section, or just remap it if it needs to, before becoming an issue. This process is called “Data Scrubbing“, and helps your disk identify potential problems before they affect your data. This can be noticed by changes in the SMART Data values on the drive (such as the lowering of the uncorrectable sector count, or an increase in the Reallocated Sector Count).

Wear and Tear

Though, there is a good question that has been raised to us at least a couple of times: Does this surface scan put additional strain on your disks? 

For Solid State Drives? Absolutely not. They are designed to be read from many times without any degradation of the drives.

For conventional hard drives? That’s not as straight forward. But basically, any time the drive reads or write data, there is a chance of damage occurring. However,  modern drives are very, very good at preventing this from happening.

The other concern here would be wear on the mechanical parts of the drive, the parts that spin the patters, and the parts that move the read/write heads. By default, the StableBit Scanner is configured to do this intensive surface scan every 30 days. What does this mean for the disk? That it’s reading the entire surface of the drive, the full capacity of the disk, once a month. That’s a good amount of work for the drive, and that will happen often. 

Well, what if I scan a 3TB drive once a month? That’s about 35TB read in a year. Once a week? That’s about 140TBs read in a year.  Okay, that’s a lot of reads over a years time. However, how does that compare to normal usage? Well, do you backup the drives? If so, the entire contents of the disk are read, or every sector is read, depending on the backup utility. What about Windows Search? Or Previous Versions? Or how about streaming from the disks? And how often does this happen? Well, that really depends on your usage.

And to get some perspective here: I have several 3TB drives in my system, that are getting close to 2 years old. I move data around a lot. So what do my drives look like? Well, most report in the ballpark of 50-100PBs of reads and writes. That’s PB (petabytes). Each Petabyte is about 1000 TBs. So thats 50,000-100,000 TBs of reads. If I scan once a month? That’s not even 1% of the total reads from the disk. And while I may not be a typical user in a lot of ways, it should give you a good idea how little of an impact these surface scans have on your disks. And disk are designed to last years, even under heavy usage.

Damaged Sectors

Now what are these damaged sectors that the StableBit Scanner finds and what does it mean to you?

Damaged sectors are bad sectors on the disk that the Surface Scan has issues reading. It means that… well, that it is likely damaged, and during normal operation, you may get an error accessing affected files (or even experience file system errors). These damaged sectors are the same ones that are identified by the “/r” switch on the CHKDSK utility.

Now, you may be asking yourself, why run StableBit Scanner and let it recover that data instead of CHKDSK? Well, you should and shouldn’t. It depends on what you want to do.

  • CHKDSK does a “best effort” to recover the data. It attempts to read, and then move the data. However, once it determines that it can’t recover it, it reallocates the bad sector and makes that data unrecoverable. And depending, it could potentially corrupt the data, or even lose sections of it. 
  • StableBit Scanner cares about recovering data firs and foremost. Once it’s identified damaged sectors, you can run a “file scan” which attempts to figure out what was damaged on the system and what files are affected. Then it lets you attempt to recover that data. In fact, StableBit Scanner uses 20 different “head placement profiles” to attempt to read the data. This is a lot more aggressive that the CHKDSK utility’s attempt to read the data.
  • StableBit Scanner does not repair this damage on the disk. If it fails to read the files and cannot recover that data, you can still run a data recovery utility to attempt to recover that data as well.
  • Again, if you run CHKDSK with the “/r” flag, it fixes the sector by reallocating it, meaning that you lose the ability to ever recover this affected data. This is because the data has been overwritten or the location remapped. So the data is no longer available for recovery.
And to re-emphasize here: StableBit Scanner does not fix damaged sectors. We are more concerned with recovering your data, than about repairing the damage here. The disk will eventually take care of this, or you can force it by using the “/R” flag for CHKDSK.

Conclusion

All in all, the StableBit Scanner is a great tool to inspect and maintain the health of your disks, and the data that is on them.