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:

Optimizing Partner On-Boarding

AetherStore is thrilled to be growing our Partner Program in 2016, and a smooth on-boarding process is vital to setting new Partners up for success. While no two Partners have the same schedule or preferences when it comes to evaluating new products, we’ve gathered their feedback and tested a variety of forms and phone calls to improve the experience. Using the five key findings outlined below, we designed an intake process that gives Partners everything they need to evaluate AetherStore on their own schedule.

Try it out! Step One: Start your AetherStore Partner Trial

  • Partners should be able to access information without waiting on a sales team: Our Partners’ number one priority is providing excellent service to their clients, which means researching new products often fits in after business hours. This became even more apparent when we started noticing a spike in AetherStore introduction calls scheduled on holiday weekends! To accommodate this, Partners can access the software and all educational resources in the portal the moment they sign up – no waiting on a sales team to grant access.
  • Not everyone enjoys phone calls as much as vendors: A phone call used to be a prerequisite for starting an AetherStore trial. For us, it’s still the best way to understand business needs and share our vision for AetherStore. However, for those who prefer working solely over email or through the Portal resources, there’s no mandatory call to begin selling AetherStore. Instead we’ve added a scheduling tool Partners can use to plan a call on their own time. We’ve found both parties get more out of the conversation this way, and we look forward to continuing to speak with each and every one of our Partners!
  • As a vendor we need enough information to perform our own due diligence: All AetherStore Partners become our business Partners. We want to work with those who see the same incredible business opportunity we do in making unused storage a thing of the past. A sign up form enables us to a) ensure inquiries are credible and b) learn enough about each business to provide the appropriate support, marketing and sales information. By entering some essential details to get started, Partners let us know they’re serious about establishing a successful AetherStore business.
  • There has to be a free trial for Partners (and their customers): Free trials have always been part of our sales process. In our earlier days, free trials were a necessity to help educate users about our new technology. Now they’re equally important for Partners, who need to use our product before recommending it to clients. Partners access a 45-day trial immediately when they sign up, which becomes a free NFR copy upon signing our resale agreement. AetherStore Partners also have the ability to generate their own additional, 7-day trial licenses for clients straight through the Partner Portal.
  • Sales minimums shouldn’t prevent anyone from becoming a Partner: Partners can request a reseller agreement as soon as they’re comfortable selling and supporting the product, even if they haven’t made their first sale. Our job is to help Partners build a successful AetherStore business, which means providing access to everything they need to be successful right from the start!

Let us know what you think! Start your AetherStore Partner Evaluation now.

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!

Storage Capacity That Increases With Your Demand

Over recent years we have seen the growth of three seemingly orthogonal topics: green-computing, small tech businesses, and data analytics. This has led to the rise of simple local file storage and sharing applications that provide easy access to critical business data, while minimizing cost.

As businesses grow in size, they employ more people, purchase more workstations, and see an overall increase in demand for storage capacity.

These businesses can either provision a server, which is subject to sawtooth-like changes in utilization as demand increases, or they can use a cloud or local storage synchronization application.

Most of these local storage applications require data to be stored on all machines running the storage application. This conflates the issue of backups (multiple copies required for redundancy) and availability (data is available from all machines). If all machines have to store a copy of the data, then when a new machine joins it must have enough space to store all of the existing data, which means that machines with small hard disks may not be able to join and access all data. When you add a new machine to your system it doesn’t increase your capacity at all, even though your demand is increasing.

demand vs capacity
Figure 1: While demand increases with number of machines, server capacity is a step function. The local capacity is almost entirely ignored in favor of server storage.

What if it were possible to have copies of data available on all machines, while not requiring all machines to keep a copy? This would allow us to support machines with low capacities as well as high capacities, and would ensure that our storage capacity increases as the number of machines available increases.

With AetherStore, we can do this.

Rather than storing all files on every machine in the local file system, AetherStore creates a virtual network drive, which allows all machines to access all data without having to have it all on any single machine. When a user saves a file to the AetherStore drive, the file is backed up across a number of machines on the local network.  AetherStore ensures that there are multiple copies of the data for each file available, but it stores these copies on a subset of all machines rather than across every one.

AetherStore abstracts the physical location of file data so all machines in the local AetherStore network can see the files without necessarily having to store a local copy. AetherStore’s storage scales linearly with the number of machines in the network, so more machines means more storage capacity. Your storage capacity grows with the size of your business!

AetherStore splits files into chunks and store these chunks across the members of the local AetherStore network. The current default number of machines to replicate data onto is four, though this is customizable. The disparity between the visibility of files on all machines and the locality of files split up across a subset of all machines is what allows AetherStore to scale efficiently, so what does this mean for your available storage capacity?

The following graph shows “the storage capacity vs. number of machines” and compares AetherStore to “Full-Copy” systems that require all machines to store file replicas.

combinedcapacity
Figure 2: The storage capacity available on each machine is the same in both systems. AetherStore’s capacity grows linearly with the number of machines. When using AetherStore, your storage capacity grows with your business.

Taking Advantage of All Capacity

Each machine in an AetherStore network can have a different sized hard disk and a different amount of capacity allocated for use by AetherStore. For example, consider six machines running AetherStore on a local network. For the sake of our example, each node is able to store some number of units of data. We can visualize our example AetherStore network:

UsageStats-1-Empty
Figure 3: Not all of the machines have the same capacity of available units. Each cylinder represents one unit of storage space. Note no data is stored at this point.

Let’s now save a small file to AetherStore. In this example we assume each file saved takes up a whole unit of storage. In our example network, there are 23 units worth of storage across all machines in the system. We know that we have to have several copies of data, so if we save a single unit file to AetherStore, we have four replicas saved across the system.

UsageStats-2-OneFile
Figure 4: After saving a one unit file, we now see that the whole takes up four units across the system. Note that the algorithm does not allocate more than a single replica per machine for redundancy’s sake.

Figure 4: After saving a one unit file, we now see that the whole takes up four units across the system. Note that the algorithm does not allocate more than a single replica per machine for redundancy’s sake.

We should remember that because files are split into chunks which are replicated four times, we can therefore view each chunk as “costing” (in terms of space required) four times its actual size.

So how much data can our system store? Let’s save two more single-unit files to AetherStore:

UsageStats-2-ThreeFiles
Figure 5 It is easier to grasp AetherStore’s data allocation after three files have been saved.

In a system requiring a full copy of all data, the machine with the smallest capacity would be unable to access every file!

Now that we have seen the advantage of this form of data allocation, let’s make the leap to using real units. If a one unit file requires four units of storage in an AetherStore network, a 1MB file “costs” 4MB to store.

If this file requires a copy on every machine in a full-copy system, a 1MB file would cost 6MB in the above example. Moreover, once the capacity is full on a machine, that machine can no longer view all of the files. The full replica system uses more of your space and then limits access once a machine’s capacity is reached!

The short equation for the capacity of your AetherStore is:

Local store capacity = Space allocated / 4

The same equation applies to all nodes in the network.  Thus the capacity of the total AetherStore system is:

Total AetherStore system capacity = Sum of allocated space across all nodes / 4

Remember that behind the scenes AetherStore breaks files into chunks, so our example was both a visual metaphor AND a model of AetherStore itself!

In practice, AetherStore is more complicated than this because we utilize caching on all nodes so that repeated access of a file only makes local requests, reducing network traffic and increasing speed (discussed in a previous post).