SMB Search
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SMB Search

SMB Search and network drives have been there since the beginning of the computing revolution. It’s arguably one of the most important network paradigms and computer setups, especially at the business level.

Brandon Fan
Brandon Fan

Intro to SMB Search

SMB Search and network drives have been there since the beginning of the computing revolution. It’s arguably one of the most important network paradigms and computer setups, especially at the business level. Why? Because we all have to share files in some way and somehow. And frankly, in a cloud-first environment, hooking up to a Drobo sometimes is just that much easier (especially when you are working with big files like Video, Photos, 3D assets, and more). Now, the reality of the situation is that although we’ve solved the issue around file sharing and organization, we still haven’t solved the issue around “where the heck is that asset that I made two months ago on XYZ” – because our file explorers and systems are simply not built for that, which we’ll talk about later.

So, let’s dive into a few things today:

  1. What is SMB in the first place?
  2. Now that you have SMB set up, what’s the next issue?
  3. Shade → the SMB search of the future.

What is SMB?

What is a LAN?

A LAN, or Local Area Network, is a network of computers and devices that are connected within a limited area, such as a home, office, or school. It allows for the sharing of resources, such as files and printers, among the connected devices. Now that you understand what a LAN is, let’s explore why network drives are important. Network drives provide a centralized location for storing and accessing files, making it easier for multiple users to collaborate and share information.

What’s the benefit of a LAN? Well, it’s “local” in nature. This means that you can hit multiple Gigabits per second in transfer time (yeah, good luck with that in the cloud). This means that terabytes of files can be transferred between computers incredibly quickly, allowing for seamless workflows, seamless archival, and seamless transitions between projects.

Network drives are essential for efficient file sharing and collaboration within a LAN. However, one major challenge that remains unsolved is the ability to easily locate specific files within these network drives.

The SMB Protocol

SMB, which stands for Server Message Block, is a network communication protocol used for sharing access to files, printers, and serial ports between devices on a network. Originating in the early days of networked computers, SMB was designed to facilitate file and printer sharing in small networked environments. In a typical SMB setup, one machine acts as the server, hosting files or resources, while other devices act as clients, accessing the shared resources as needed. SMB operates at the application layer of the networking model, utilizing underlying LAN technology to transmit its data. In many office environments, SMB is commonly employed over Ethernet-based LANs to set up shared drives, directories, and printers. Modern versions of SMB, such as SMB3, have incorporated advanced features like encryption, multi-channel networking, and improved performance, ensuring the protocol’s relevance and utility in contemporary networking scenarios.

SMB + LAN + Network Drive = Peak Performance

The seamless integration of Server Message Block (SMB), Local Area Network (LAN) technology, and network drives is a recipe for achieving peak network performance in many business and home environments. SMB, as a protocol designed for sharing files and resources, is naturally complemented by the high-speed communication infrastructure offered by LANs. By utilizing the robust capabilities of Ethernet-based LANs, SMB can swiftly and reliably transfer large volumes of data, making it an optimal choice for file-intensive operations. When SMB operates over a high-speed LAN, users experience reduced latency, faster file access, and efficient inter-device communication.

In this synergy, the network drive stands as the cornerstone, serving as the central repository of shared files and directories. With SMB managing the access and communication protocols and the LAN ensuring rapid and reliable data transport, network drives can operate at their full potential. This means quicker access to shared files, efficient backups, reduced downtime, and enhanced collaborative capabilities. Whether it’s a small office team sharing project files or a large enterprise dealing with complex datasets, the trio of SMB, LAN, and network drives ensures that users experience optimal performance and reliability in their networked environments.

The benefits of this integration go beyond mere performance enhancements. The seamless interaction between SMB, LAN, and network drives simplifies file sharing and collaboration within a LAN. Multiple users can easily access and collaborate on files stored on network drives, fostering productivity and teamwork. Additionally, the centralized nature of network drives ensures that files are organized and easily accessible, minimizing the time spent searching for specific assets within the network.

Moreover, the combination of SMB, LAN, and network drives addresses one of the persistent challenges in file management – the ability to efficiently locate specific files. With the centralized repository provided by network drives and the efficient file sharing facilitated by SMB and LAN, users can quickly find and retrieve files, even in large and complex file systems. This improves productivity and reduces frustration by eliminating the need for manual searching through multiple folders and directories.

There’s also enhanced security and data protection. SMB, with its advanced features like encryption, ensures the confidentiality and integrity of shared files during transmission over the LAN. Network drives, acting as the centralized storage, allow for efficient backups and disaster recovery measures, ensuring that important files are safeguarded against data loss or system failures.

Awesome, I have my files, now what? SMB Search:

Now that you have your SMB share set up. That’s great and all, but let’s face it – you’re about to start creating content more than ever, faster than ever, and your file explorer isn’t going to cut it. Why? Because SMB still doesn’t solve the search problem.

SMB Still Doesn’t Solve Search

Despite the many advantages that the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol offers for file sharing and access in a Local Area Network (LAN) environment, it has a significant limitation: native file search capabilities. SMB is primarily focused on facilitating the transmission and sharing of data between devices. While it allows for the efficient sharing and opening of files across a network, it doesn’t inherently possess an advanced search mechanism to quickly locate files based on their content, metadata, or other attributes.

Imagine an organization with a vast shared drive hosted via SMB, containing decades’ worth of video assets, photos, CG assets, and more. An employee looking for a specific file or set of files based on certain criteria would face a cumbersome and time-consuming task. The native search tools provided by most operating systems are generally not optimized for deep or fast searches over network drives, especially when the volume of data is substantial. This results in wasted time and decreased productivity. Additionally, without a sophisticated search mechanism, there’s a higher likelihood of file duplication, as users might simply recreate a file or document they can’t quickly locate. To truly harness the power of network drives and SMB, complementary solutions or third-party tools are often required to address this search deficiency and enhance user experience.

Digital Asset Mayhem

Now, with an SMB share, your employees will have more productivity, but that also means IT will have everything from high-resolution images, videos, and audio files to intricate 3D models, databases, and proprietary software; the digital universe is expanding exponentially.

The first challenge in this mayhem is organization and retrieval. As digital libraries grow, the task of organizing these assets in a logical and easily retrievable manner becomes formidable. A lack of standardized naming conventions, inconsistent metadata, and the absence of a centralized storage system can lead to lost assets, duplicated efforts, and significant inefficiencies. For businesses, this disarray can mean missed opportunities, as essential assets might be overlooked or inaccessible when they are needed the most.

Here’s Shade – The Future of SMB Search

That’s why we built Shade. Shade is a fully local, on-prem search engine that is a file explorer replacement for companies. It uses AI to help organize all of your media assets, from videos & images, to 3D assets, audio, and more. Better yet, we have support for over 300 different file types, including complex types like BRAW, R3D assets, FBX, OBJ, and more. Better yet, getting it set up for studios is a complete breeze. Here’s a demo.

Shade’s search is immaculate and insane. It’s super easy to get all of your assets indexed, and Shade scales to petabytes of assets easily. It’s truly your SMB search of the future.

Interested in learning more? Book a demo with us today.

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