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Selecting a Computer to Host Your Intella Software

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Selecting a Computer to Host Your Intella Software
 

It is always important to select a computer with ample resources to run the software that will be installed on the host machine, as well as the various tasks the system will be supporting. With today’s large case sizes, this is especially important when you are choosing a computer that will be running any form of ESI processing software. Below are the most important hardware elements to consider when selecting a computer to host Intella and Connect:

 

  • The Processor – The processor or CPU is often the first component that comes to mind when discussing the performance of a PC. The processor carries out the instructions of the applications running on the PC. Any sort of software application that deals with a great amount of data analysis will require high quality, and high performance processor(s). However, when the memory and hard drive used do not meet or exceed the recommended standard, the processor can easily become underutilized. We discuss more about memory and hard drives below.

As a general rule, only processors designed for desktop or server use should be considered for your host computer. Do not use processors which have been designed for mobile devices. More cores, and higher specs will provide better performance if budget permits, but it always comes down to that saying, "you get what you pay for".

 

  • Memory – Specifically referred to as RAM, your computer requires a certain amount of memory to temporarily store the data and code it is working on. Simply put, the more memory you have, the more data your computer can work with at once, otherwise it must constantly utilize your hard disk for temporary storage or postpone certain tasks. Using the hard disk as memory is a lot slower than using RAM, so this can greatly slow down your computer.

Anything less than 8GB for our entry level products should not even be considered. Also know that since the release of Windows Vista, Windows may use the memory that is considered as “free” as a disk cache. This greatly increases the performance of your PC, but may leave less memory for Intella to use. While memory chips can come in different speeds, more memory typically beats faster memory when using Intella.

 

  • The Hard Drive – There are a few important elements to consider when making an allowance for hard drives. 
    • Localised drives: The drives used for the Case, Evidence and Optimization folder should all be local drives to the processing. These drives should be internal, and connected directly to the motherboard. We do not recommend using network or USB connected drives for processing and indexing activities. We have seen a number of issues in support where network and USB drives are used.
    • Storage space: In addition to the space required for your operating system and applications, you need room to store your evidence files and for Intella to store its case files.  On average you should allow two times the size of your evidence files for storage space for the case files. 
    • Data access speed: It is important not to overlook the speed of your drives. Different technologies play a big part in data access rates for drives. An example of this is the spin speed of the drive. Laptops, and most eco-friendly drives spin much slower (e.g. 5,400 RPM) than high performance drives (7,200 - 10,000+ RPM). In simple terms this means it will take longer to read or write data to those drives. 

There are better technologies available these days. Solid state drives (SSD) are much faster at read/write processes based on there being no moving parts, and data is read/written directly from/to solid state memory chips, as opposed to magnetic rotating platters. Also, there are other factors to take into consideration such as the drives transfer rates and hard drive cache sizes. As mentioned above, you get what you pay for. Therefore, if you want performance, you should invest in high performance components.

 

A RAID configuration for your hard drives can add redundancy and fault tolerance to your computer. This can protect your data if one of the drives fail. A RAID configuration may also increase the speed of your read and write operations providing better performance. Fault tolerance, speed improvements or both depends on the specific RAID configuration that you use. How to configure a RAID is beyond the scope of this guide and you should discuss these options with your IT team.

 

  • Operating System - Whether you prefer Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10, a 64-bit operating system is pretty much required, as the 32-bit version of these operating systems cannot accommodate more than 4 GB of memory. The “Home” or “Starter” editions are not recommended as they again limit the maximum amount of memory and CPUs. Please use the “Pro”, “Enterprise” or “Ultimate” versions instead.

Intella is tested on the above mentioned operating systems. That said, we have customers who are running Intella on Windows servers 2008 and 2012. Note that there may be security settings that need to be configured on the server to allow Intella to run. This needs to be addresses by your IT team as we cannot provide advice on these settings.

 

  • Microsoft Office – Office 2007 or a newer version (such as 2010 or 2013) is required if you intend to export your results to a PST file.
  • Lotus Notes – Lotus Notes 9.0 or higher is required for indexing NSF files. Check the user manual for specific minor versions that are not recommended.

 

Below are some suggested minimum specifications that we recommend for each of our products. It is better to exceed the minimum requirements listed for better performance. Naturally, larger datasets require more processing time and have higher requirements for system resources than smaller datasets. These specifications are based on a 500 gigabyte (or less) case.

 

 

hardware_software_table3.png

 

Some other items to consider

  • Case sharing - For Intella TEAM Manager or Intella Connect, we expect that processing and exporting data will be undertaken on a different system to the system that is hosting the shared case. This is recommended to minimise the likelihood of over taxing the system which is sharing the cases.
  • Case sizes - The specifications in the table above are based on a 500 gigabyte (or less) case. Cases above 500 gigabytes should add 32 gigabytes of RAM per 500 gigabytes of data indexed (Example; a 1TB case should have no less than 64 gig and appropriate hardware specifications).
  • Type of data - The type of data (or evidence) being processed is also a factor in how fast the processing can be completed. Delays can occur if Intella encounters corrupted files etc. Compressed files will be expanded processed. This means that Intella usually processes more data than the size of your evidence. More information on evidence is shown in the following post. 
  • Connect review systems - The client PCs used to review a case hosted by Intella Connect should have a minimum of 8 GB RAM and have an up-to-date web browser installed. All major web browsers (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome) are supported. See the online documentation for notes on the limitations of specific browser versions.
  • Network storage - Vound recommends processing data on local drives located in the processing system. Once the data has been processed, the data can be reviewed on that system. Copying the indexed case to a reliable network drive for review purposes can be an option. Note that we have seen a number of errors in support caused by interrupted network traffic or permissions when the case is being reviewed from a network storage location. While using a reliable network drive is an option, users should know that any network issue big or small can potentially cause irreversible database corruptions which can render the case unrecoverable. 
  • Case file size requirements - For each case that is processed, the amount of recommended space depends on the number of items indexed, total size of data as well as the type and length of the expected reviews. As stated earlier, you should allow two times the size of your evidence file set.
  • Intella memory configuration - Additional information on configuring the memory settings in Intella for better performance can be found at this link.

  

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What exact computer should I get to use with Intella? 

 

We get this question a lot. The issue with answering it accurately is as follows.

 

In our opinion there are five factors to a successful job. Ignore these five factors and even highest specification system may not be enough to ensure success. 

 

The user/reviewers experience

An experienced user can get away with a much lesser computer if he/she manages that system correctly. If they plan the case and train the reviewers to not undertake tasks such as  tag 1/4 million items for no real need. Not to export unnecessarily and not to tax the system with other applications.  In short to understand and to think about the effects of his/her action on the other reviewers.

 

The evidence

The 80/20 rule can apply here. 80% of your data will be fine and index with no issues. 20% will take as long as the other 80% if it has corruption or does not play well with others. The users experience applies here, they will need to know how to spot, identify and repair any issues. 

 

Example: If you are not checking the data how will you know that something has not been missed or needed pre processing before indexing. Perhaps your AV has blocked 20% of your data, or you needed to preprocess some files so that Intella can read them. Encrypted, OCR, custom metadata fields and some older mail formats come to mind).  

 

There is also the makeup of the data to consider. If you have 100 gigabytes of zipped files that contain 1 gig + text files that can affect the case dramatically. Again the user needs to understand the data they are indexing. 

 

Mail containers such as PST/OST/NSF will take more resources than loose docs. The system specifications needed for 1TB of mail containers will be very different to 1TB of loose documents.

 

The system specifications and usage

Spec the system to the importance of the job and the other four factors. Don't understand the data makeup? Have inexperienced users who click first and ask questions later?  When the lawyer / reviewer insists on adding a million items to a tag followed by exporting all million to PDF / TIFF so he can print them off - where he is one of eight reviewer on the case. Add a hardware buffer and offer training.  

 

The software

How well the software performs will impact on the computer needed. But again the best software on earth when faced with inexperienced users and data corruption can sometimes have issues.  A high spec machine is no guarantee of a perfect case. 

 

 

The deadline - A.K.A the 2am factor

Often the biggest factor. If the case really, really has to be done in a week. 

 

  • Spec the computer to ensure it will not be a problem.
  • Plan the case. What tags will be used. What will be tagged.  When and what will be printed / exported by who and so on. 
  • Ensure the users are trained to be able to follow the best practice you specify
  • Look at the data. What is the make up. Does it have a lot of files that will be of no use to you. Can you de-dup ahead of indexing to reduce the volume. 
  • If you are using load files have you agreed a format prior to accepting / creation of the load file. I cannot tell you how often we get support questions that start with "My load file is not working"  
  • Finally - BACK UP THE CASE. Failure to do so will end in tears. 

 

 

So when we are asked what computer should we use for 1TB of data the above is why it is hard to answer.  What would save us a lot of time would be to offer a blanket answer such as. Get a Dell720 with 256 RAM or equivalent other brand ($15K-25K+) . It will ensure the computer is up to the task but in many cases overkill, will not guarantee of a perfect job 100% of the time and out of many peoples budget. 

 

Hope this helps in some way.

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