Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

At my school, we have 13 iMacs that we use to make our yearbook. Currently our school has some servers for us, but since we work with so many files ( thousands of pictures, most of which are ~3MB ) it slows down far too much. Is there a way to better share files between our computers?

We are on a wireless network and the whole school shares the same servers, we have around probably 400 computers in the school.

Is there a hardware fix I can do? Something like buying an external and hooking only yearbook computers to it?

share|improve this question
The servers slow down or the workststations slow down? – music2myear Nov 18 '11 at 16:21
Do you know what NIC interface the network is using? 10/100/1000Mbps? – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:23
If you go to your network settings on your machine, it should say the link speed. – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:28
Are you on a wireless network? – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:39
Wireless is very, very slow. Even 802.11n is slow. – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:49
up vote 2 down vote accepted

So reviewing the comments so far to the various answers,

  1. 140 GB of pictures need to be called up at will.
  2. The server/network speeds are horribly slow.
  3. The local machines are re-imaged daily.

Between these, there doesn't sound like there's going to be a practical software solution. Due to this, I would suggest one of two things:

  1. Lobby hard for better IT governance at your school, either through working on a better network architecture, changing the daily wipe policy, digging around elsewhere in the system for unused network hardware that could create a wired LAN just for your yearbook group, or something else along those lines.

  2. Have everyone chip in and get some cheap USB drives that the files can be distributed between in whatever breakdown would be most conducive to each of the yearbook team members' ability to work simultaneously.

share|improve this answer
It isn't our school that manages those policies and network. Almost everything is handled at a county level. I might be able to get a wired LAN for us though. – Koalatea Nov 18 '11 at 17:09
Looks like you should get together and lobby at then. Part of the problem appears to be that within that organization, there's some major overlap between the different operational units, who might not be coordinating well with each other. But that's far too political for here. – UtopiaLtd Nov 18 '11 at 17:14
That said, you're apparently using wireless connections. Assuming there's an Ethernet port in every classroom predating the wireless network, you may see if someone can requisition a network switch and some Ethernet cables so that everyone can at least be on the wired network. That might not solve all your speed problems, but it would help. So perhaps lobby for hardware. – UtopiaLtd Nov 18 '11 at 17:15
I'll talk to my tech guy about it, thanks for all the help. – Koalatea Nov 18 '11 at 17:19

If it isn't against your school's IT policy, you may consider using a service such as Dropbox. You can also do something similar in-house with this tutorial.

This is, of course, not the most space-efficient method since you'd be making local copies of everything on each of the machines. However, once a file's been copied over there won't be any further transfers until a file gets updated, when it will get pushed to all the other machines. All files can be edited and loaded from local copies, which would speed up time when browsing through photos to find the one you're even looking for, assuming that's the part that's too slow.

share|improve this answer
It would take a long time to upload all those photos and may congest the network. – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:25
How would Dropbox fix these issues? – music2myear Nov 18 '11 at 16:25
I'm going on the assumption that due to pictures being mentioned, opening each one from thumbnails to find which one to work on for whatever purpose is the actual part being perceived to be slow. While all the copies are being distributed for the first time, that can be done while the computers are not even being actively used. – UtopiaLtd Nov 18 '11 at 16:27
Also, Dropbox will attempt to use internal local copies over a LAN to distribute rather than pulling all copies from the upload to Dropbox. – UtopiaLtd Nov 18 '11 at 16:27
@UtopiaLtd I did not know about it using LAN data, thanks! – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:29

If you are concerned about slowing down the server, create a share on your machine and store the pictures locally and the other users can access that share.

share|improve this answer
Then you'd just move the slowness from the server to the local machine, which is probably not as equipped for handling large numbers of shared files as the server is. – music2myear Nov 18 '11 at 16:26
Better than slowing the server down. – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:26
We can't save anything to our computers, they get reset everyday. The computers themselves are quite locked down, they used deep freeze – Koalatea Nov 18 '11 at 16:36
I have had experience with deep freeze. My solution is not the right one for you unfortunately. – qroberts Nov 18 '11 at 16:38

Generally, if you're working on files over a network, you're only going to work as fast as the slowest part of the connection.

If your network is a 100Mbps connection (most common) there can be lots of lag when working with the files on the network servers. If it's a Gigabit (1000Mbps) connection between the servers and workstations you'll probably be going a lot faster, but depending on what you're doing with the files (how much photoshop, cleanup, modification, adjusting, etc) it will still be slower than if you were working on the files locally on the workstation you're working on.

The simplest solution would be to copy the image you're working on to the computer you're using at the time and do your work on it there. Then, once you're done modifying, adjusting, editing, adding mustaches to the principal, and enlarging the pecs of the jocks, you copy the files back into place on the server, preferably into a different directory so as not to overwrite the originals.

This will take the slowness and congestion of the network out of the equation.

share|improve this answer
Well, it takes a long time for us to load the thumbnails themselves. It takes ~15 seconds to load a preview of one picture. Uploading is just as bad. – Koalatea Nov 18 '11 at 16:40

I knew this would come in handy someday... use double-male Firewire-400 or Firewire-800 based on the available ports on the imac... it transfers files really fast (fast than a USB or ethernet) and is easy to use... (go with the 800 if possible, 400 if you have to)

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .