Departments & Programs,UW Health,Information Services

File Storage Infrastructure Update

File Storage Infrastructure Update - Departments & Programs, UW Health, Information Services


The IS Team has implemented a new storage solution for all file shares. File migrations are taking place and soon all of our File Shares will be located on one system. There are some things all users need to know about this system and how it works. We’re excited about the potential of this new system and the possibilities going forward for file protection. There are a few items we will be testing in the near future that will help give us an even more robust ability to protect your files. More will be coming on that in the future!

Why are we doing this?

Historically, files have been saved on multiple storage solutions in various locations of UW Health. Our new storage solution is designed to replace all previous storage solutions into one, unified system. Multiple storage solutions are challenging to manage, and expanding these storage units when there are many pieces/vendors/service contracts proves difficult. One system simplifies file management and helps us to easily expand storage capacity and provide better file protection capabilities.

How does this System Work?

There are two parts to this system. The front end of the new storage solution will look just like a normal file share. Designed with speed in mind, you will have no problem accessing files. However, space is limited. The secondary storage unit, or the backend storage is designed not be as fast, but to have massive amounts of storage and hold files indefinitely.

If the front end is limited in space won’t it fill up if users keep saving files there?

A vast majority of files on our network aren’t accessed or modified within thirty days of being saved. This is why there is a policy on our front end storage. When you save a file and don’t modify it within thirty days, it will be sent, or tiered (moved), down to the backend solution.

How will I get to my file?

When the file is tiered down to the backend, the storage platform will place a ‘stub’ file in the place of the normal file. This ‘stub’ will look exactly like the file it’s replacing – it will have the same name, modified date, and file size. In reality, this stub file is extremely small and will contain a link to where the file is stored on the backend. The only difference between the real file and the stub file is a gray ‘X’ in the bottom left corner of the file image:

Just open the file like normal. The way this storage solution works is when you double click on the stub file, the storage solutions receives the link from the stub and automatically pulls the exact file from the backend storage. If you modify the file and save, it will be placed back on the front end and, if unmodified, will pass back down to the backend storage after 30 days. If you open a stub and do not modify, then the file closes and isn’t placed on the front end at all.

Is this process slow?

For most files there is no noticeable difference accessing a file, whether it’s on the front or back end storage. The only time you’ll ever notice a difference is for very large files (example: large video files). These types of files might take 5-10 seconds longer to open than normal.

Will anything bad happen to my files?

Absolutely nothing bad will happen! All files will be available for you during file migrations and also after old file shares are switched to the new storage solution.

Will my files be safe?

This system was designed with redundancy in mind, so you will always be able to access your files at any time. The backend storage has multiple copies and will not be deleted or expire. The front end has multiple copies and is backed up by our backup solution.

Are there any issues noticed so far?

Currently, there is only one issue: File preview in Windows Explorer. Because the stub file is a ‘link’ to the file on the backend storage, Windows File System cannot preview the actual stub file. Currently there are no workarounds for this. This issue will not impact you being able to access your files. You will still be able to open and view files.

How will my work be impacted?

Work at UW Health will not be impacted by the transition to the new storage platform. Some file shares you access on a daily basis have already been transitioned over.