Space Oddities—What’s in Your IFS?

August 16, 2016


While storage on IBM i is most commonly associated with DB2 and libraries, some applications, including SAP, Domino, WebSphere, and Movex, store the majority of their data and objects in the IFS. The integrated file system or IFS on IBM i is largely a mysterious storage black hole for many users, yet this directory system can hold almost anything from programs, documents, and data to images and movies.

Since IBM i internal disk is expensive, system administrators should be aware if they have unknown objects in the IFS.

Space Junk in the IFS

Some of the most common abuses of the IFS are save files, cume tapes with IBM PTFs, and PDFs of reports. These items should be easy to spot, but if no one takes ownership to clean up this area, there is limited or zero visibility into potential problems.

More urgently, the IFS can store Windows objects that have been infected by a virus or be a carrier for viruses that might infect your Windows servers. That might be no skin off your nose, since the Windows team will have to deal with it, but everyone suffers if the virus impacts your company’s ability to do business.

Joyriding Through the IFS

The IFS is just another network drive, and some of your staff may have figured out that they can steal space to store their favorite photos, movies, and music. Who needs to upload to Shutterfly or Dropbox when they have free disk space at their disposal that no one seems to care about?

Movies and music (.wav, etc.) certainly take up a lot of real estate, and they may not be part of the organization’s strategy for using available IBM i storage. System administrators should check to see what staff members may be storing in this area.

All Systems Go

Many businesses are also storing very useful information in the IFS, including images of the products they sell or medical records. One Robot customer stores eight images for every car they sell via their car auction sale software that runs on IBM i. Another customer in healthcare stores X-ray images for their patients. These are more useful cases for storing unstructured data on IBM i.

It Ain’t Rocket Science

Most system administrators have low visibility to what is new and what is old in the IFS. Many are still using green screen reports to do forensics as they dig through this area, or they forget about cleaning up PTFs and save files altogether.

Worse, since the IFS is considered just another network drive that no one is controlling, they may not know that they need to back up the IFS daily as critical business information is often stored here.

IT teams cannot be expected to effectively navigate the wideness of IFS space without state-of-the-art tools. Robot Space disk space management software is fully graphical so administrators can see in seconds which directory or object in the IFS grew the most since the previous collection.

Robot SPACE can drill into the largest IFS directory or file, and it has an age routine to remove old IFS objects based on retention criteria that can be tailored to each directory.

When looking for an easy way to keep users accountable for the disk space they use while also automating the endless but essential task of keeping your IFS clean, give Robot SPACE a try for free.

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Data will only continue to grow. Learn how Robot Space can help you manage and analyze your disk space without investing in additional hardware.

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