Do you need a fast, easy data backup system for your facility? At WZIP-FM our DADPro 32 server was getting filled with WAV files that we use for class projects and training in addition to the usual production work. WZIP-FM is the student run station at the University of Akron that's run as a professional broadcast training program, so we try to have industry-standard equipment and programs throughout the facility. The DAD server has 72GB of Raid 5 storage, which is enough for our on-air elements, but now that we are migrating to uncompressed audio the production stuff is getting too big. I wanted to find an inexpensive option to store the production and classroom audio on the network without replacing all the server drives and then bogging it down transferring large WAV files.
I picked the Snap Appliance Server 1100 250GB network attached storage (NAS) unit from Adaptec. These types of storage units are becoming common for back-up use in many network operations due to their low price and ease of use. The drive is mounted in a small 3" × 5" × 9" enclosure that only has power and Ethernet plugs on it. There are also four LEDs to show system OK, data link OK, network connection/activity and disk activity. Inside the case there is a small disk controller, the 250GB drive and a CPU running the custom Snap OS. The 1100 series is a single disk system only; other lines have Raid capabilities if needed. It will run on and emulate almost any network/server platform including all Windows flavors, Mac OS, Unix and Linux. It will also “talk” in TCP/IP, HTTP, UDP/IP, Apple Talk, IPX and Net BEUI. You can even set it up as an FTP server.
The basic setup is simple and fast. Plug in the inline power supply, no wall wart, and connect to your network switch or hub. Then just load the configuration software on a nearby workstation. The quick setup option worked like a charm for me. I was able to set the IP address, work group and security settings from my DAD server in about five minutes.
Performance at a glance
Storage sizes from 80GB to 250GB
Fast setup without IT expertise
Works with all networking flavors
Small, portable, easy to use
You can also remotely configure it through a Web browser or use a DHCP server to assign the IP address. Security is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption that keeps data safe during transfers. During the next few days, I transferred more than 50GB of data to store all our production elements, a complete back-up of the on-air material and all the DAD programs to the unit. The Ethernet connection is 10/100 speed but through my new gigabit switch the transfer speeds were quite fast with most 32MB cuts transferring in about three seconds on a moderately busy network.
Workstation setup was even easier. The drive appears in the network neighborhood so you can put a shortcut on the desktop or you can use drive mapping through Windows if you prefer that method. I even connected the Macs we use for video editing. Once my system was backed up I tried to use the automated backup software that comes with it but, it wouldn't run on my Win 2k server. The software is designed to only back up from a local disk to somewhere else; all the files I want backed up are only local to the server. I tried it on a workstation but it would only see the workstation drives as a source for the back-ups so I was out of luck. The company does include a 30-day trial version for servers.
I did run into one problem with the unit. During a large file transfer session it stopped and put up a window with “cannot proceed, file path too deep” when I clicked OK it went away. The unit seemed be running the disk but wouldn't allow any access. I restarted the system with no success; it still wouldn't show up in the network neighborhood. I looked through the PDF manual included on the setup disk but there was no indication of my problem listed. I went to the company website and found a FAQ search section. I entered my problem and the answer was I should call support. After a quick call to tech support I pinged the unit and found it was there but running a disk defrag/cleanup routine.
I had deleted some of the material off the main server before running that last group of files and some newer production could have been lost. After about 45 minutes of rebuilding, or whatever it did, it was back and all my data was still there. I later learned that its OS, like Windows, doesn't like the file path to be larger than 256 total characters, apparently I had a folder that was too deep.
There are many options out there now for NAS systems so figure out your needs then double or quadruple them. You can seemingly never have enough storage these days.
Thompson is chief engineer of WZIP-FM., Akron, OH.
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