How we optimized Magic Pocket for cold storage

Ever since we launched Magic Pocket, our in-house multi-exabyte storage system, we’ve been continuously looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, while maintaining our high standards for reliability. Last year, we pushed the limits of storage density by being the first major tech company to adopt SMR storage. In this post, we’ll discuss another advance in storage technology at Dropbox: a new cold storage tier that’s optimized for less frequently accessed data. This storage runs on the same SMR disks as our more active data, and through the same internal network.

The Lifetime of a file

The access characteristics of a file at Dropbox varies heavily over time.

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Pocket watch: Verifying exabytes of data

 

There is nothing more important to Dropbox than the safety of our user data. When we set out to build Magic Pocket, our in-house multi-exabyte storage system, durability was the requirement that underscored all aspects of the design and implementation. In this post we’ll discuss the mechanisms we use to ensure that Magic Pocket constantly maintains its extremely high level of durability.

This post is the second in a multi-part series on the design and implementation of Magic Pocket. If you haven’t already read the Magic Pocket design overview go do so now;

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Inside the Magic Pocket

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback since announcing Magic Pocket, our in-house multi-exabyte storage system. We’re going to follow that announcement with a series of technical blog posts that offer a look behind the scenes at interesting aspects of the system, including our protection mechanisms, operational tooling, and innovations on the boundary between hardware and software. But first, we’ll need some context: in this post, we’ll give a high level architectural overview of Magic Pocket and the criteria it was designed to meet.

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Scaling to exabytes and beyond

Years ago, we called Dropbox a “Magic Pocket” because it was designed to keep all your files in one convenient place. Dropbox has evolved from that simple beginning to become one of the most powerful and ubiquitous collaboration platforms in the world. And when our scale required building our own dedicated storage infrastructure, we named the project “Magic Pocket.” Two and a half years later, we’re excited to announce that we’re now storing and serving over 90% of our users’ data on our custom-built infrastructure.

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