We've had the SnapServer in our office for about two weeks and have been using it for a variety of tasks, ranging from a high speed backup medium to a web server. Although it is difficult to compare it directly to a multi-purpose server due to the differences in approach and configuration we've really enjoyed working with the SnapServer. Whereas you traditionally have to properly set up a server by installing the software and configuring the operating system, which is both time-consuming and simply a lot of work, configuring a SnapServer is a matter of plugging it in, uploading the data to the SnapServer and then access that data from anywhere on the network. The fact that it can be configured through a web browser adds significantly to its flexibility, you no longer have to install 3rd party software on your servers or workstations to be able to set it up properly, you can just login from any computer attached to the network.
Another great feature is the fact that the four drives mounted inside the SnapServer 4100 can be used in a number of configurations, either optimized for performance or data protection or a combination of both. This greatly adds to the flexibility of the SnapServer as it can be tailored to fit your needs. From a performance perspective even a single drive is able to saturate the 100-baseTX network interface as the 30GB drives mounted average around 15 MB/s which is more than the 11.9 MB/s the 100-baseTX interface is capable of. So even if you run all four drives in a striped RAID 0 configuration you simply won't be any faster than a single drive, as your network interface simply becomes the main bottleneck.
However if protecting your data is key, the RAID 5 configuration offers a great trade off in disk capacity and level of protection. When we use a three drive configuration and configure the fourth drive as a spare the server continues operating without interruption or data loss if one of its drives fails. But if you absolutely need the highest level of data protection, disk mirroring, RAID 1, should be used. If either disk in the configuration fails, the other automatically takes over and the server continues operating without interruption or data loss. By using RAID 1 however total storage capacity is reduced by half, in our case, with the 120GB SnapServer 4100, we would end up with 60GB of total storage capacity.
Overall the SnapServer proved to be able to hold its own, both as a file-server but also as a web server. It is a very user friendly device, even someone who has never worked with a file-server before will be able to set it up and access it in a matter of minutes, it is that simple. In most office environments the SnapServer will prove to be a great file server, taking some of the load off of the main server as well as providing speedy access to files, folders and needed data. The combination of a number of fast harddisks, some dedicated hardware to handle disks I/O and networking creates a low-cost device that can easily compete with most multi-purpose file-servers at a much lower price. We were also pleased to find out that Quantum's technical support engineers knew what they were talking about and had a quick solution for our problems. To summarize, if you're looking for a save and simple way to upgrade your network storage capacity be sure to give the Quantum SnapServers a good look, they might fit your bill exactly.
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