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The summer's top 10 storage tips

If you've missed any of our storage tips this summer, now's your chance to catch up. We've compiled the top 10 tips from the past few months to get you up to speed.

Summer's a busy time. Maybe you were on vacation, or maybe, more likely, you were cooling your jets in the server room. For whatever reason, if you've missed any of our storage tips, now's your chance to catch up. We've compiled the top 10 tips from the past few months to get you up to speed.

1. Should you choose a SATA-based array?
Just because Serial ATA drives cost less than a quarter the cost of Fibre Channel drives on a dollar-per-Gigabyte basis, don't expect those kinds of savings in the new SATA-based arrays from EMC Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Data Systems and Sun Microsystems. There, the savings shrink to approximately 50%.

2. How to document a SAN
Creating documentation for your SAN is an important, but often overlooked, step in the production process. Comprehensive documentation provides a baseline for the SAN, and makes management and tuning easier. This tip will show you how to create SAN documentation that will keep your systems up and running even if your whole storage team is hit by a bus.

3. Steeling SATA for duty
Some vendors, wary of selling unreliable hardware to customers who expect otherwise, have taken steps to eke better reliability out of low-cost drives.

4. How long does tape last, really?
The most commonly quoted figure for the archival life of magnetic tape is 30 years. Even in an era of heightened concern about compliance and records retention, that is long enough to make storage administrators comfortable -- perhaps a little too comfortable.

5. How to prevent common problems in SATA drives
Serial ATA (SATA) drives are a popular, lower-cost alternative for less-demanding storage array applications. Although SATA is based on the well-known IDE specification, there are enough differences that a SATA drive can cause problems.

6. Be wary of Shadow Copy limitations
Because it allows quick restores of damaged or deleted files, the Shadow Copy feature in Windows Server makes life easier for storage administrators dealing with shared folders. But there are limits to how Shadow Copy should be used.

7. The advantages of SATA II over SATA I
The new SATA II-based products are going to make your life a lot easier. Three features to consider: port multipliers, port selectors and native command queuing.

8. How to decide between Fibre and iSCSI SANs
SAN expert Christopher Poelker offers his checklist for evaluating Fibre Channel- and iSCSI-based SAN offerings.

9. Dueling SAN technologies: NAS vs. iSCSI
Although Fibre Channel (FC) SANs continue to attract customers, storage professionals have never stopped looking for other, cheaper and less complex technologies. ISCSI is the most recent blip on the radar screen.

10. Are SMB HBAs good enough?
As HBA vendors pare prices by stripping out infrequently used features, storage administrators need to ask if the next generation of less-costly HBAs will be good enough. The short answer is yes. The following questions will help you decide if these new HBAs will fit in your environment.

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