April 14

Using and Managing the Droplet File Share Service

There many, many ways to get data in and out of the Droplet container – my own personal favorite is just to use my NAS-based storage on my network – as it gives me a centralized location for all my storage needs on a super-fast network. There other ways of course and that include using the clipboard to copy & paste a file into a container, as well as using our redirect drives. For some time we have also had our own file replication service or “Droplet Share”. The term “Droplet Share” is more of a marketing term because this does not leverage shared storage protocols such as NFS, SMB/CIFS, or iSCSI, but a built-in replication service. In fact, it was developed a secure method to get data in/out of the container even if protocols like SMB/CIFS are blocked. That’s the case in my many high secure environments where these Microsoft protocols are expressly blocked by the policies of our customers.

You can see if the file replication service is running if the orange cross appears in the bottom left-hand corner:

There are two main uses of this feature – a gorilla usage as an easy way to copy install media into the context of the container. I’ll often use this when a customer has already downloaded their install media to their desktop and started the container – and other methods are not available. A more legitimate use is in highly secure environments where such protocols as SMB are deliberately blocked, and security policies decree that redirected drives or the clipboard are not enabled. This is often the case in some banking and financial services environments where physical and virtual airgaps enforced when dealing with legacy applications that handle sensitive data.

The “Open Device File Share” opens a File Explorer/Finder Window on the host device, and the Open Container File Share opens a Windows Explorer application on the container:

So to the “back” is the Windows 10 File Explorer which opens the default path for the file replication service which is:

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Droplet\Shared

And the Window to the “Front” is Windows Explorer inside the container which opens a default path for the file replication service which is:

C:\Shared

Our replication is bidirectional, so any file/folder created in either Window results in it being replicated to and from the container. So here I create folders in either direction – and they were replicated in both directions:

We can cope with very large files – double-digit GB files – are not a problem. Of course, the bigger the volume of data the longer it takes to complete the replication. Some actions are almost immediate – such as file deletes – because no network IOPS are generated.

If customers are not wanting to use this feature it can be disabled from our settings.json or from our core UI under the settings gear icon:

Once the Droplet Fileshare feature is disabled – the services that back it are stopped, and the UI is redacted and the shortcuts removed – so there no orange plus in the bottom left-hand corner of the UI.

Finally, a word of warning about the Droplet Fileshare. When you are building your “master” image you might want to clean out the contents of C:\Shared and turn off the Fileshare feature – occasionally system administrator forget this and leave unwanted installers, scripts, and other such code – and that can end up being pushed out during the deployment phase.


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Posted April 14, 2021 by Michelle Laverick in category "Droplet Computing