Sync Hacks: Creating a Storage Architecture for a Boutique Gaming Shop

Sync Hacks is a column dedicated to exploring new applications for BitTorrent Sync, as built by users like you. BitTorrent Sync is a free, unlimited, secure file-syncing app. (And now, it’s even more mobile.) If you’ve got an epic Sync idea, use-case or how-to, shoot us an email at sync[at]bittorrent.com.

In this week’s Sync Hacks: London-based 3D gaming artist and Playir.com founder Alexandra Goddard shares how she uses BitTorrent Sync to create the most efficient storage architecture for a small, growing gaming business.

From Alexandra:

I’m a notorious desktop saver. Current projects go on the desktop, files I need to share go to the cloud and finished items get archived on my FreeNAS server (where I can usually forget about them forever). I know I should be more organised, but it’s too easy to have a ‘do-it-later’ mentality when it comes to keeping my files organised.

[wide]Dropbox, Google Drive, Central Server and Storage[/wide]

It’s also too easy to forget to run backups, as the files my team and I work on can change drastically in a matter of hours; any backups would never be current.

Adding BitTorrent Sync to my FreeNAS has really helped me achieve a better workflow and more efficiency. Unlike cloud storage, I can share any folder in any location and I can keep a file organisation system that suits the way I work. Not only do I add a layer of redundancy by having my server synced with local files on multiple PC’s, it allows me to work from my work PC as if I were on my home PC (and vice versa).

The most typical network architecture for a home or small business uses star topology; client PCs typically have access to a single centralised hub. Each device talks to the central repository but not directly to each other. This is easy to setup and maintain with a local server or via a cloud sharing service, but what happens when the central link fails?

[wide]Central Server Failure

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A common problem I’ve faced in small offices with a centralised server is that sometimes, that storage server goes offline and leaves you unable to access and share files. Where small businesses are concerned, any downtime can have a costly impact on productivity.

The benefit of adding BitTorrent Sync to my FreeNAS for my team is that it creates a fully connected network. All clients can talk to the server, as well as each other. We have the performance and accessibility advantage of local files, and updates are pushed to all the other nodes in the network. If the server goes offline, we can still access and update files between the workstations, and the server syncs automatically when it comes back online.

The server in this model does not support the full load of the network alone, but it certainly has the advantages of being available 24/7 to sync, can perform periodic automatic backups and has RAID configured. And when adding or replacing new devices in a fully connected network, P2P connections allow super fast transfers of files to get us up and working faster.

As a small startup based in London, one of the things we like to do is work at one of the many coffee shops and co-working spaces in the city.  We’ve yet to find the holy grail of free parking, wifi, outlets & refills… but it’s nice to know that we have access to all the files we need on the go and that we’re not restricted to a single location by our network setup anymore.

[wide]FreeNAS and Sync Storage, Anywhere Access

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An appealing factor to us about FreeNAS and the BitTorrent protocol is that both are open source, which complements our own open source business model. Our editor pushes updates in real-time, so it’s important to us that our network infrastructure can do the same.

Alexandra is a 3D Artist & co-founder of Playir.com (@playinrealtime). Her team is passionate about making games design accessible for all, with an easy-to-use editor and template packs.  Their technology allows updates to be published across all platforms in real-time.  You can reach Alexandra here and at @aliekiddo.