Limitations of Strathcloud

main content

For many users, Strathcloud is an excellent way to store, share and sync your files.  However, there are some limitations to be aware of : in particular, users with large amounts of data, or large numbers of files, or users who need high performance, may find Strathcloud limiting.  For such users, the Network Drives (H: and i: drive) may be a better alternative.

Performance :

Below are some typical measurements of the time taken to write data, or upload, or download, using three types of storage : a typical local hard drive, the Network Drives, and Strathcloud.  In each case, we measured the total time taken (in seconds) for 100MB of data.  We tested using average-sized files (1MB), larger files (10MB), and smaller files (0.1MB).

Strathcloud and network drives performance comparison  

You can see that, while the Network Drives give close-to the same performance as local hard drives (or better), Strathcloud is slower.  This is particularly true for uploads, and when large numbers of files are involved.

Mass-restore of files :

In Strathcloud, you can restore accidentally deleted files from your Strathcloud Recycle Bin, using the web interface.  You can also revert to old versions of individual files, using the versioning in the web interface : this can be useful for recovering from accidental changes to files, or from ransomware attacks.  However, if you want to restore a large number of files, or an entire folder-tree, to a specific point-in-time, then there is no easy way to do this yourself, you have to do it one file at a time.

The Strathcloud suppliers (Citrix) have committed to performing such mass-restores on request, in the event of ransomware attacks, and they have demonstrated their ability to do this in a large-scale test : however, we do not have guarantees around timescales, and it is expected that the number of requests should be kept to a reasonable minimum. This makes it more difficult to recover from large-scale ransomware attacks, or any other unwanted mass-change to your files, if you have large numbers of files in your Strathcloud.

On the other hand, the Network Drives (H: and i: drive) allow you to easily restore an entire folder-tree to an earlier point-in-time yourself, making it easier to recover from large-scale attacks of this nature.

Numbers of files, and sizes of files :

In addition to the general performance limitations above, there are also some specific limits advised by the supplier :

  • Total files synchronised to local machine : no more than 250,000 files
  • Uploading a file, sending a file : no larger than 100 GB
  • Items per folder : no more than 10,000 items (includes files and subfolders)
  • Items able to be moved/uploaded in the webapp : no more than 5,000 items at once

Other limitations :

Here are some other limitations, as advised by the supplier.  Please take particular note of the limit on long filenames/pathnames :

  • Maximum length of file-and-pathname in webapp : no longer than 180 characters
  • Distribution groups : no more than 2,000 users
  • Maximum duration of individual file transfer : 18 hours – longer transfers will timeout
  • Folder Details : no more than 4,000 characters
  • Email with ShareFile – body of message: no more than 3,999 characters

How does this compare with other services?

Most of the above limitations would equally apply to "consumer-oriented" products such as Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, etc.  So if you are concerned about any of the above limitations, then these consumer products will probably not help you, and will simply add an additional layer of concerns, regarding security of University data, etc.  Instead, you should consider using another type of storage platform, e.g. the Network Drives, or something else more appropriate.