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View Full Version : "working off the server" vs. copying down then copying back up...?




terzinator
Apr 13, 2011, 09:29 PM
We have a small graphic design firm... four designers working on Illustrator and InDesign files... files might be 200MB to 1GB, generally. Really varies. Might be a brochure, logo design, packaging, whatever.

We have a Mac Mini Server running Snow Leopard Server, attached to a Promise RAID. All our files are on this unit. (Backed up regularly, yada yada.) We have a gigabit network, so it's plenty fast to move files around, etc...

here's the issue/question...

Our designers generally work on the files "on the server" rather than copy them down to their drives to work. They think it's faster and more efficient, and reduces the chances of extra files being created, or deleting the wrong one, or issues with "which version" is the most current, etc. Copying up and down files takes time, they say.

I argue (I'm the tech guy, not a designer) that it's asking for trouble. That working "off the server" could create file corruption if there's a network issue, or if there's an issue with a computer that's working on the file, or whathaveyou. I also think it's slow, even though it's a fast network. Any time saved "copying the file up or down" is going to be lost waiting for files to open and save and render and whatnot. I think it's very INefficient. All around, I just think it's a bad idea.

Whether it's a good idea, or a bad idea, or a standard practice, well, what say you? And if you think it's asking for trouble, what's the best way to deal with stuff like this? A different server? Is there good software that allows for making sure you're working on the current file, etc...? What are other graphic design firms doing in this regard?

If this isn't the best place for the post, let me know and I'll see if I can have it moved.

Thanks in advance.



MattInOz
Apr 14, 2011, 07:08 AM
I think it's pretty standard practice that if there is a server in place you work off the server. From working in architects offices as an architect and the guy who looks after the server file corruption is really rare tends to be a sign your running over capacity on the drives which like to have 20%+ free space. If you get the odd power outage then files being written at the time can lock up.

Sounds like you've got all the multi layer in place which is your best protection.

I'm really surprised 4 designers and they have you doing it. Most the time in these shops computer stuff would be done by one of the designers.

Oh forgot to say I hope your running a second mini as hot spare.

dasmb
Apr 14, 2011, 12:32 PM
These are static graphics, right? Technically speaking, these files are loaded from the server into RAM by the program, and if there isn't enough RAM it'll write to a local scratch disk. Once the user starts working, they operate on the data in RAM or the scratch disk -- NOT the original file. This allows a full undo/revert workflow. This means that merely by opening the files, they're performing the equivalent of pulling them to the local disk and then opening them...and they're doing so in one step.

If an issue were to occur while saving the file, the server's copy may be corrupted. However, the user would be alerted and they could save the file locally.

Get off their case :D

jtara
Apr 14, 2011, 12:33 PM
Well, by "working off the server" I HOPE you don't mean working off a live HTTP server! That is, I hope they aren't modifying a live web-server in place.

If you're talking about a fileserver, you are MUCH better off working "off the server". That way, you can enforce backup whether your designers like it or not. If they copy stuff down and back up, you can bet they will squirrel stuff away on their own machine where it will get lost. (Of course, they are going to do this anyway! One strategy is to limit the amount of disk space on their machines...)

I also hope you have some sort of revision control system in place. Of course you don't. You're a design firm ;)

talmy
Apr 14, 2011, 01:06 PM
Working off the server is just fine, and shouldn't be a performance problem with just four users on the mini. Be sure that any temporary files are being created locally.

Pressure
Apr 14, 2011, 03:58 PM
It isn't called a file server for fun . . . ;)

It might as well get corrupted during all the copying back and forth you are suggesting. Bits can be flipped and you probably don't utilize a filesystem that can secure you against bit-rot for maximum data integrity.