Quantum Corp.’s 60GB Snap Server 2000

PC World.com (US)

Your network probably handles its share of traffic, and storage space is always an issue. But installing and configuring new servers is costly, time-consuming, and difficult. Network-attached storage devices offer a nice alternative to doing surgery on your server. They plug in to your existing network configuration, and with little installation hassle they add a storage server to your LAN in just a few minutes. I looked at one of the latest, Quantum Corp.’s 60GB Snap Server 2000.

The Snap Server is available in a variety of capacities and configurations: The Snap Server 1000 is a single-drive unit and comes in 15GB and 30GB models. The 60GB Snap Server 2000 I looked at is a dual-drive unit, while the Snap Server 4100 comes with four drives and is available in 120GB and 240GB versions. The multiple-drive models can all be configured as RAID units, allowing redundancy or improved performance, depending on which RAID level you use. You can also access all of a server’s drives as a single volume. Of course, if you set up the server for simple mirroring with RAID-1, you cut your capacity potential in half.

Prices run from less than US$500 to about $4500; the 60GB version I tested costs $1699. Supporting a wide range of network protocols (TCP/IP, IPX, NetBEUI, and AppleTalk) and networks (Microsoft, Novell NetWare, UNIX, and AppleTalk) simultaneously, the cross-platform Snap Server lives up to its name in ease of installation and use.

Snap-On Storage

Adding the Snap Server’s nearly 60GB to your network is a breeze. You simply attach a power cord and connect the unit to your network hub using the ethernet cable provided, turn on the power, and do a bit of configuration. The server will be up and running in less than 2 minutes.

The unit I evaluated came with both disks configured as a single drive in a RAID-0 configuration. Even with the overhead necessary to manage the server, the combined drives still provided about 56GB of usable storage. I found the server quickly through Windows Explorer by drilling down in Network Neighborhood. The server’s name was SNAP, followed by the five-digit serial number (corresponding to the number on the back of the unit). The Quick-Start Guide provided directions for mapping the Snap Server as a local drive. Even a networking novice could handle installation and setup without missing a beat.

The whisper-quiet, 8-pound Snap Server 2000 measures 4 by 15 by 8 inches. It can support clients running Windows 9x, 2000, and NT 4.0. It also supports SunOS and Solaris, SCO UNIX, Red Hat Linux, Macintosh System 7.5.5 and above (including OS X), and Novell IntraNetWare clients for Windows.

Customizing the Snap Server through the Snap Assist program lets you specify settings for the date and time, network settings (for example, the IP address), and the administrator password. (The Snap Server 2000 also supports automatic assignment of IP addresses through DHCP, BOOTP, and RARP.)

Once you’ve completed the basic configuration, you can use your browser to access the advanced configuration utilities built into the Snap Server itself. After entering the IP address, I used the Web-based Administration program to manage the server. I was able to change options and run disk utilities. I could also choose the protocols I wanted to enable, change the domain name, set up automatic e-mail notification in case of a failure, view the server log, and see which users were currently logged on. By default, the Snap Server ships with no security restrictions, but I was able to change those settings to manage users, groups, and access privileges. The server can authenticate users from an NT domain controller and NetWare Bindery server, too.

Choose Your Config

You can configure the two drives in the Snap Server 2000 in one of three ways. First, you can use each disk as an individual 28GB volume. If instead you want data redundancy, you can select RAID-1 for disk-mirroring, in which the second drive duplicates the contents of the first drive. (That approach cuts your storage capacity to 28GB.) With my unit, I used disk striping (RAID-0), in which both drives were “combined” into what appeared to Windows as a single 56GB drive. You can reconfigure your mode, but if you do, all existing data will be lost.

Quantum says that in a typical small-office setting you can expect performance over a network that’s comparable to typical Pentium-based servers running Windows NT 4.0. While my installation was not set up to formally evaluate that claim, I found that opening and saving Word and Excel documents to the unit seemed similar to saving to a hard drive attached to a network server.

The unit ships with PowerQuest DataKeeper 4.1 Snap Edition for continuous background file backups from your system to the Snap Server–a nice option for making sure users are keeping their essential files backed up. By default, Windows files and executables aren’t backed up, but you can customize those settings.

For adding storage space to your existing network, nothing is easier than the Snap Server 2000.

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Prices listed are in US currency.