Storing archived information in SQL Server or on a SAN

Tags:
Archiving
SAN
SQL Server archiving
My company is storing PC files in SQL Server in an image field, and this data has to be archived. Due to our retention policy, the size of this data could grow to as much as 5 terabytes total, spread over 500,000 to 1,000,000 records. Should we store this data in SQL Server in an image field, or should we utilize our SAN and store the PC files in an intelligently-named file/folder structure, with SQL Server containing a pointer to the SAN-stored file?

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I would suggest the second option. Files are easier to handle individually than image fields, and if you ever need to copy or move the data, SQL would have to go into hot backup mode, whereas your file system would be able to keep running as long as the file being moved or copied was not currently in use.

You will need to ensure you use a good file system for this. Also, you should use some sort of snapshot software on the SAN to help prevent damage to files through server failure. Copy on write is fine for this, but will limit you to under 10 snapshots per lun, and getting near that limit will reduce your performance to a crawl.

Netapp snapshots would be better for this because they don’t do copy on write and thus have no performance degradation per snapshot, but then you’re buying a very expensive box for files.

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