Mark Carrel - stock.adobe.com
The field of data storage is massive and continues to grow as the years go by. Naturally, this leads to a large number of questions that need to be answered. Our Ask the Expert articles enlist top experts and analysts to tackle common data storage questions readers have about different storage technologies and developments.
While storage technology has grown more complex, reader interest often points toward basic concerns. In 2018, expert answers covering RAID levels, storage infrastructure comparisons and units of capacity measurement garnered the most interest. Of course, while these data storage questions lean toward the basics, they have clearly been affected by the changes in the storage market.
Below, we've compiled the top five most-read Ask the Expert articles of 2018. Symbolic of the ever-evolving, but consistent, storage market, all five pieces have been updated to reflect modern changes to evergreen technologies.
Memory and storage: What's the difference?
Memory and storage, while connected, aren't synonymous. Both refer to internal data storage space on a computer, and the major difference between the two lies in the state of the data when the storage system is off. However, as storage technology evolves, the line between memory and storage is beginning to blur. It's no wonder that this was one of the most prominent data storage questions readers were searching for this year.
RAID levels explained
While RAID is a storage standby, it continues to grow and change as storage requirements do. The benefits of RAID include improved performance and higher availability, along with relatively low costs. RAID today is broken into three separate categories: standard, nonstandard and nested. Numbered 0 to 6, standard RAID levels represent the original basic RAID, while nonstandard levels and nested RAID cover RAID levels set for particular open source projects and combinations of RAID levels.
Looking for a refresher on the state of RAID levels? You're not alone. In this expert answer, we break down RAID levels and benefits and how they're used today.
Terabytes, petabytes, exabytes and more
It only makes sense that, as storage capacities grow, units of measurement must grow as well. Long gone are the days when a 1 TB drive was an unimaginably large amount of storage space. "What is bigger than a terabyte?" is no longer a theoretical storage question, and while these large amounts of data may yet have practical commercial uses, it won't be long before they are put into wider use.
What is bigger than a terabyte? Well, there's a petabyte (1,024 TB), an exabyte (1,048,576 TB), a zettabyte (1,073,741,824 TB) and more. You get the gist.
NFS vs. CIFS/SMB
Both NFS and CIFS/SMB were designed to work with any OS, but in Linux and SMB in Windows, NFS reigns supreme. Once a heated debate, NFS and CIFS/SMB have taken on similar characteristics over time and are supported by most enterprise storage systems. Perhaps it's because of these similarities that "What is the difference between NFS and CIFS/SMB?" was one of the more prominent data storage questions asked in 2018.
Regardless, readers will now find that, despite their lengthy history of facing off, the two protocols are now more similar than they've ever been.
Network storage showdown: SAN vs. NAS
SAN and NAS are staples in the field, so what data storage questions could you possibly have about them? Well, while the technologies are established, the nuances and uses continue to change with the world around them. The differences and benefits of SAN and NAS aren't the same as they used to be and will continue to change. In this expert answer, we explore how the two architectures compare, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and where they're headed in the future.