Environmental Factor, September 2005, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Central Storage? What's That?
By Colleen Chandler
Most computer users just want their computers to work properly. They're not so concerned about what makes computers function. But if you do much business traveling or telecommuting, central storage is a function you will want to know about since it allows you to access your data from home, from your work PC or from a laptop. A feature of this new program will also automatically synchronize versions of data files or documents to ensure you are working on the most current version.
Right now, central storage is only available for PCs.
NIEHS computer will begin moving people's individual files and data from the hard drive on their PCs to a central server at NIEHS. The central server is more secure than individual desktop computers because the server has more tools in place to control unauthorized access. central storage will also improve the reliability of backups, and will allow users to restore their own files if they should become corrupted or damaged.
Peter Nowak, the Lockheed-Martin team leader in charge of the project, said participation is completely voluntary, and anybody who wishes can opt out by going to https://apps.niehs.nih.gov/centralstorage/index.cfm. User directories will be established for participants, and their computers will be configured to save their work on the network instead of their hard drives. The user will work with computer support staff to copy data and files onto the server. The session will probably take 30-40 minutes.
Participants in the central storage project will not be able to access their data when the network goes down. However, full network outages are rare, and the server that will be used for central storage data has an average operational uptime of 99.91 percent over the last five years.
One server is dedicated to central storage now, but additional storage capacity will be added as more space is needed, Nowak said. Users will start with 4Gb of storage space, but can upgrade to 8Gb in needed. People who need more than 8Gb of space will be handled on an individual basis.
For laptop users, the Offline Folders feature of central storage will allow them to access their data from any computer connected to the NIEHS network. When the user with this feature opens a file, a copy is automatically made on the hard drive of the laptop via the network connection. If the network connection goes down, these users can continue working on their files, which will be copied on their hard drives. As part of the Offline Files feature, the network will automatically synchronize versions of a data file or document to ensure that the latest version is saved back to the server. An additional safety feature allows users to override the synchronization capability to direct the server to save a specific version, Nowak said.