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Blog posts of '2016' 'February'

Crypto-ransomware.

 

IT Nation Panel: Ransomware Is The Biggest Challenge Facing

Security Firms.

One of the most pernicious threats to your customers’ IT infrastructures and businesses is crypto-ransomware. This malware automatically encrypts user files and makes them unavailable until a ransom is paid to unlock them.

Ransomware has become the most nefarious challenge for security vendors today because of the inability of existing technologies to remediate once the damage has been done, panelists at ConnectWise's IT Nation agreed Thursday.

"Ransomware is just something that you can't clean up," said Marin Kleczynski, CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Malwarebytes. "It's gotten to the point where the FBI director basically said, 'Just pay the ransom.' "

Even though the frequency of ransomware attacks hasn't much changed, the increased severity of these breaches has made it the most vexing issue facing partners and end users of San Diego, Calif.-based ESET NA, Stephen Cobb, the company's senior security research, said during a breakout panel at the conference in Orlando, Fl.

 

Ransomware is a form of malware that, after infecting a device or network, prevents users from accessing their files (usually through encryption) before a ransom of some sort is paid. The most notable recent strain of ransomware was CryptoLocker, which now has encryption keys available for most of those infected (though, CryptoLocker 2.0 is making its emergence). At a recent IT Nation panel, executives said ransomware, while only accounting for about 5 percent of crimeware.

SSD Life in 2015 and Beyond - How Long Will They Last?

SSD Life in 2015 and Beyond - How Long Will They Last?

 

As SSDs continue to grow in popularity due to their advantages in speed and size, customers may still have questions about how other performance metrics compare to traditional HDDs. One big question is about drive longevity. It’s true that SSDs only permit a finite amount of writes and rewrites before wearing out—and out of context, that piece of information can strike fear into the heart of a potential buyer. But experts have been putting SSD longevity to the test, and the reality of how well the drives hold up over time can ease the mind of any customer who misreads finite rewriting as meaning that a drive is slated for an early death.

 

Why – and When – Do SSDs Wear Out?

Seeing how an HDD would wear out is obvious. A spinning plate and various other moving parts, over time, are prone to yielding to friction and mechanical failure. What’s less obvious is how an SSD with no moving parts would wear out.  

Whenever data is erased and rewritten to the flash memory of an SSD, it creates a miniscule amount of wear on the drive. A single instance of one of these cycles is called a program/erase cycle. There are a finite number of these cycles that a drive can go through before it becomes unreliable.

However, endurance tests, which rate drives by writing data constantly to them until failure,have been conducted, and they give a ballpark idea of SSD life. As a whole, tests indicate that even when regularly performing tasks that do a great deal of writing and rewriting, such as video editing, it would probably take a consumer in excess of 13 years to reach the 500TB average tipping point for drive failure.

How Can SSD Longevity Be Increased?

SSD manufacturers have been doing their best to implement technologies that stretch out drive life in light of the finite number of program/erase cycles a drive can handle. Wear-leveling technology, for instance, assures that data blocks are rewritten evenly so that no one area experiences an uneven number of program/erase cycles and fails early.

Warning Signs

Many SSDs also give error messages leading up to the point when so much data has cycled that drives become unstable.

Will an SSD Outlast and HDD?

Whether an individual SSD will outlast an individual HDD is an impossible call to make. Any number of usage factors and factors specific to the architecture of a given drive. However, in laptops and other settings where a drive is exposed to daily external physical abuse, an SSD stands a better chance of long-term survival than an HDD.

A Bright Future

This is an exciting time for data storage technology, and even as drive tests indicate that SSDs can probably surpass a decade of work without wearing out, technology to better drive performance and longevity will no doubt take huge leaps forward in the coming years.

Remember, however, that a customer should always be advised to keep sensitive and important data in more than one place, no matter what the average stats are on an SSD’s performance. No method of data storage lasts forever—at least not yet. Customers investing in SSDs for enterprise use or personal use in 2015 are making a wise choice, but they will always benefit from backup solutions, security solutions, and added-on support that can prevent and help manage the loss of data in the event of a drive wearing out.

A Simple SSD Comparison to HDD

A Simple SSD Comparison to HDD

 

Understanding what makes an SSD different than an HDD is vital for any VAR hoping to sell SSDs to their clients. So here is a short breakdown of what makes SSDs different – and better.

How they work: A SSD is basically a package of memory chips; typically the same ones as are used in common flash memory cards. This means that SSDs have no moving parts, and they do not require any power to retain data on the chips once it has been recorded there.

One benefit of SSDs: Data fragmentation is not an issue. It doesn’t matter if data from a single file are stored side-by-side or in different locations. 

The reason: Unlike an HDD, an SSD doesn’t have lots of moving parts that have to get from one area of its storage to another to retrieve data. It’s all done electronically. There is some ‘seek time’ expended, but it is some minimal as to be unnoticeable.

An HDD is a complex machine that contains multiple magnetically coated disks (platters), which spin for data access and recording. Data is either recorded to or read from the spinning platters using ‘drive heads’, which are mounted on moving arms. 

The need to spin the platters and move the arms to access data is what accounts for HDD’s slow speed compared to SSDs. It is also why HDDs generate heat and need for cooling, and make noise due to all these parts being in motion.    

The need for spinning and moving parts really becomes a problem when a file is fragmented on the HDD; that is, parts of it are stored in different locations on the platters. The drive has to physically search for and then read these sections, which takes time when all these moving parts are involved.

These fundamental differences explain why you can replace an older computer’s HDD with an SSD, and see remarkably improved performance. This improvement is a direct result of the SSD not spending the same amount of time as an HDD when it comes to accessing and recording data.

This is also why computers equipped with SSDs multitask better than those with HDDs. They take less time to do the same jobs.

There are other reasons why SSDs look better than HDDs when you compare them.

First is robustness: Imagine dropping a solid state digital display watch on the floor. Then imagine taking one of those expensive windup clocks in a clear glass dome, and dropping it. Smash!

In this comparison, the SDD is the solid state watch. The HDD is the glass-domed windup clock. The first doesn’t have the parts to misalign and break; the second does. (Even without the glass done.)    

Second is reliability: Lacking moving parts, SSDs have a lot less to fail than HDDs do. This doesn’t mean SSDs don’t wear out. They do, because the number of read/write cycles are not infinite. Nevertheless, having no moving parts makes an SSD less vulnerable to failure, because there is less that can fail.

Third is power consumption: SSDs use up to ten times less power than HDDs. This can be a big plus when SSDs are installed in battery-powered devices such as laptop computers. Reduced power consumption can make a real difference when an employee is off-site, and not able to plug in their laptop to keep it running; especially if the laptop is older and has batteries that are not longer taking a 100% charge.

Put everything together, and SSDs are just plain better than HDDs -- hands down. This doesn’t just mean in terms of performance, but long-term value. This is because the time savings offered by SSDs add up for businesses in improved productivity and better employee morale. 

Where SSD Technology Is Going in 2016

Where SSD Technology Is Going in 2016

With each passing day, it becomes easier to convince businesses of the superiority and inevitability of solid-state drive (SSD) technology over hard disk drive (HDD) as reliability, speed, performance, and durability continue to increase. 2016 is already shaping up to be a year of bigger, better, and faster in terms of where SSD technology is going.

While HDD still clearly dominates in terms of sheer numbers, SSD technology is closing the gap. This can be seen in the fact that SSDs are on track to ship more than 190 million in 2016, with forecasts of 227 million in 2017, according to Statista. This growth is being driven by plummeting prices and increasing capacity.

The most recent InformationWeek report states that SSD prices continued to decrease over the last year and should reach near parity with HDD by the end of this year. Two areas of technology improvements in 2016 that are driving this involve the fact that manufacturers have moved beyond 2D NAND and PCIe 2.0 x4.

The advent of 3D NAND has increased SSD capacity while simultaneously decreasing its prices. This in turn is fulfilling the need for greater capacity and speed in the consumer market as well as in the enterprise.

Some of the SSD technology advances we’ll see in 2016 are:

  • 2 TB portable SSD with data transfer speeds of up to 450 MB/s
  • SSDs that will feature capacities of 6 TB and 8 TB
  • A 13 TB SSD small enough to be installed even in a laptop
  • A 16 TB SSD to be available this year and projections for a 128 TB SSD by 2018 through the use of 3D flash technology

Last year, manufacturers introduced 3D NAND technology that stacks flash cells vertically in 32 layers in order to achieve a 256 GB multi-level cell and 384 GB triple-level cell die that fit within a standard package. This year, there is even a new kind of SSD based on a technology called 3D XPoint that can operate up to 1,000 times faster than the NAND flash used in today’s SSDs.

As for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) Gen3x4 SSD, it makes production of 2 TB and larger SSD technology easier. Currently, it allows read/write performance up to 2,900 MB/s and 1,300 MB/s, which is more than triple the throughput of standard SATA SSD. It’s all about performance, low latency, and Quality of Service (QoS).

Each PCIe Gen 3 lane can move data at speeds of up to 985 MB/s, and some vendors are shipping 20-lane PCIe-based storage devices. That blistering speed is making PCIe-based SSDs very attractive to businesses that move a lot of data-heavy, low-latency content, like streaming video.

In the long term, SSDs have the potential to outgrow HDDs in terms of capacity, with the first 30 TB SSD coming into existence in 2018 and 256 TB SSDs predicted to become available within the next five years.

Businesses and consumers have plenty of ways in which they will use the new SSD technology in order to improve everything from gaming, mobility, and workstation users to medical research done by supercomputers. SSDs are already having a big impact on how system architects build systems and how developers create applications. Every day, more and more 15,000 rpm drives are being replaced by enterprise SSDs.

Not only can the latest SSD technology reduce storage bottlenecks in virtualized environments, but it has the power to change the nature of database applications and big data systems in a world soon to be dominated by the Internet of Things. The accessibility and growth of cloud storage and service offerings will dictate the need for storage in local devices for applications as diverse as file access, media streaming, and surveillance storage and analytics.

As more consumers and businesses learn about the expanding list of superior benefits with the latest SSD technology, it will change their perceptions and ideas about how and where HDDs and SSDs can be used. The technology advancements in 2016 are sure to pave the way for greater opportunities in terms of use, so increased sales are sure to follow.