How to Create an Encrypted, Redundant Drive in Minutes

At this point, our businesses and even our personal lives would be nearly impossible to run without our data. Not backing it up properly or trusting the wrong service to do it for us is no longer an option. Luckily, features that used to come with enterprise-grade prices and complexity are now available to anyone with a computer. Here’s how to create your own encrypted, redundant, chunked, password-protected drive with AetherStore in minutes.

To Get Started: Install AetherStore on your computers with spare storage. You’ll notice an optional AetherStore Bridge component in the installer, you only need to include this component on machines you’ll use to set up and manage AetherStore.

1. Launch AetherStore Bridge to Start Creating Your Store

Open the AetherStore Bridge and select “Create Store”. Choose a name for your Store.

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2. Select Store Size

Choose the size of your Store. The percentages below each option indicate the percentage of free space on each machine that will be allocated to AetherStore. By default, AetherStore will replicate your data four times. 

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  • For added customization: choose “Use Custom Create”. From there you can view each one of your machines, include or exclude them from the Store, and set exactly how much space you want each of them to contribute. You can also change the replication factor in Custom Create.

3. Select Mount Machine

Pick the mount machine for your drive: this is the computer that will be able to view and access the Store. You can change the mount machine after your Store is deployed, or at any time, from the Manage Stores page. Assign any drive letter not currently in use.

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4. Create Store

Click “Create Store”. You’ll be promoted to set a password for your Store. Once entered, hit “Deploy”, and that’s it! You’ve created an encrypted, redundant, password-protected Store drive.

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Check out your new Store on the mount machine, and use it just like you would any other drive.Mounted drive pic

Sign up for access to AetherStore 2.0 here:

AetherStore v1.2.4: New Add/Remove Feature!

AetherStore v1.2.4 is out now! In addition to UI updates and enhanced stability features, the release is equipped with a new feature that provides even more control over your storage space: the ability to Add and Remove nodes from a Store after you’ve created it.

Benefits of Add/Remove:

The benefits of the new Add/Remove functionality are obvious: add new machines to a Store at any point after it’s been created to increase capacity on the fly. Or, remove machines that you no longer want to use for AetherStore if you don’t need the space. Most importantly, you can do it all without having to recreate your AetherStore drive.

The new functionality also has licensing and payment benefits: it’s easy to swap machines in and out of Stores, so you can add licenses seamlessly whenever you need them, and are never stuck paying for them when you don’t. Add/Remove from an existing Store truly makes storage provisioning concerns a thing of the past.

AddRemove

Update Now

Add/Remove from an existing Store has been a hotly requested feature from our users. so we’re excited to be rolling it out in v1.2.4! If you’re running AetherStore now, make sure to open your AetherStore Dashboard to update all your AetherStore machines and take advantage of everything v1.2.4 has to offer.

Interested in downloading AetherStore v.1.2.4? Check out our Partner Program to start your free trial.

Want to purchase AetherStore licenses? We’ll put you in touch with an AetherStore Partner:

The Storage Resource You’re Not Using

When was the last time you thought of a computer workstation as a storage resource?

Workstations typically ship with a minimum of 500 GB storage, yet usage information from AetherStore users proves that, until now, data was stored everywhere except on workstations. It’s not necessarily surprising, as storage trapped on individual drives provides little value; but how much storage is accumulating as a result?

We gathered data from 520 machines running AetherStore, including both workstations and servers, to see just how much office storage was underutilized:

Average % Available Space per Machine: 73%

Average GB Space Per Machine: 352 GB 

Computer w Space

Multiplied by the number of machines in your office, you can imagine how quickly this available storage adds up. In fact, on the 520 AetherStore machines in this data set, there were over 180 terabytes of unused storage space! Imagine how much 180+ terabytes of onsite storage could cost if you had to purchase it outright.

The data makes it apparent just how much storage offices already have when provided the technology to combine and manage it effectively. AetherStore customers in this data set included anywhere between 4 and 65 machines in their deployments, and reclaiming storage resources was surprisingly simple. In fact, the speediest of our users were able to get AetherStore up and running in under eight minutes, creating a multi-terabyte drive in less time than it takes to boil an egg.

Average Number Machines per Store: 9

Average Space Available per Deployment: 3.2 TB

creating store

No matter what size your office is, if you have a few minutes and some workstations you have everything you need to start rapidly increasing usable storage capacity. You’ve already paid for the hardware – now you can finally use your space!

Get in touch with AetherStore and find out how much storage is waiting for you in your own network!

Backup for Disaster Recovery

“Backup storage that just works is my primary goal for getting AetherStore into production.”

– Brant Wells, Wellston Technology

Wellston Technology will deploy AetherStore as a central part of their Backup and Disaster Recovery strategy at a client site with 350 machines, producing storage for redundant backup. Brant Wells, Owner & Lead Technologist, leads the AetherStore implementation.

Existing Pain Points:

“In the past, I have dealt with problems where the backup and storage was consistently requiring maintenance, and unreliable in general.” Often, important data was shipped offsite to remote locations, leaving Brant unsure what was actually backed up and how. His biggest pain points were:

  • Uncertainty and lack of visibility into status of backups
  • Constant maintenance required for existing backups
AetherStore Deployment:

Brant’s first AetherStore installation was a test environment across four nodes, creating a 30GB Store for smaller backup and CD/DVD images. They also have a small set of random software packages available on the Store. Going forward, Brant will expand the size of his Store across more of the 350 client machines to host a much larger backup, and add additional software packages to his Store.

  • Ease of Management: “I was able to install and manage my first Store within minutes after getting the installations done.”
  • Reliability of Storage: “It is nice not to have to worry about losing a node or disk and have it ruin your night’s backups. With AetherStore, we are able to sleep at night knowing we have a good backup storage.”

“The setup process was simple: install the storage package on any number of nodes, and install the Dashboard on one of them. Mount the drive and share it via Windows. I love that I can also push and manage the installations with apps like PDQ Deploy. No muss, no fuss. It just worked!”

Simple Setup

“With AetherStore, we are able to have a reliable storage location for our backups that makes it easy to house backup images and restore from backup when necessary. We don’t have to worry about whether or not the backup will belly-up if we lose a single (or more than one!) hard drive.”

Cradle to the Gravy: Thanksgiving and Your Data

We enjoyed writing our Halloween-themed blog post so much we couldn’t resist putting a Thanksgiving spin on this one as well. On the menu for today: turkey and storage backup.

Our Director of Research, Angus Macdonald, was telling us about The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The book gets at our inability to account for what we haven’t experienced. The namesake example is the discovery of the first black swan in Australia, and how that discovery annihilated what was an “unassailable belief” by the Old World – that all swans were white.

“It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird.”[1]

How to Learn From the Turkey:

Taleb further explains the phenomenon using the life of the turkey, which is fed and cared for every day of its life by humans. The turkey has no reason to distrust them, each day the belief that its caretakers strive only to keep it alive is reaffirmed. The reliability of this setup seems to increase with each day, when actually slaughter is becoming increasingly more imminent.

Enter: Thanksgiving.

Turkeypic
Figure One: One Thousand And One Days Of History (Taleb, 40)

As we can see from the life of the turkey, what has worked in the past is often not an indication of what will work in the future.

So it is with data storage, until you’ve experienced data loss it’s easy to be lulled into a sense of security by a storage infrastructure that has given no indication it will fail. In reality, each day without incident may be one day closer to data loss. A Google study found that, on average, nearly 15% of all hard disks fail within two years, 22% fail within three, and 35% of disks fail within five. [2]

Keep in mind disk failure is only one way to lose your data, these statistics don’t even cover the countless other ways to experience data loss. And the consequences are dire: “93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster, filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.” And “94% of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive – 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years.”[3] The odds aren’t much better than a turkey’s on Thanksgiving eve.

Fortunately IT experts do have an advantage over turkeys, the ability to learn from others’ experience. Still, even with statistical evidence supporting the need for data backup, when IT budgets are low it can be understandably painful to invest in something with seemingly no immediate gratification. In this Spiceworks study, 30% of SMBs surveyed by Spiceworks admitted they aren’t allocating enough resources to backup.[4]

Taleb addresses this incongruity by referencing Bertrand Russell’s “Problem of Inductive Knowledge” – “How can we logically go from specific instances to reach general conclusions?” We know data loss it is a possibility, but it’s easy to feel secure when your storage setup shows no signs of weaknesses, and frustrating to invest in a something that appears to offer no instant gratification.

Still, the evidence is not on your side. Data loss is a likely possibility and its consequences are daunting.

Don’t be a turkey, back up your data. Happy Thanksgiving from AetherWorks!


[1] Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “The Black Swan” Penguin Books Ltd, 2007, 2010

[2] Eduardo Pinheiro, Wolf-Dietrich Weber and Luiz André Barroso. Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population. In Proceedings of the 5th USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies, February 2007

[3] Unitrends, “7 Shortcuts to Losing Your Data (and Probably Your Job)”

[4] Deni Connor, Spiceworks Voice of IT sponsored by Carbonite, “How SMBs are Backing Up: Solutions, Trends & Challenges” March 2013 http://itreports.spiceworks.com/reports/spiceworks_voice_of_it_backingupsmb_031112.pdf