HP Media Vault (SOHO NAS)

I'm a self-employed consultant and spend quite a bit of time working out of my home.  I was in the market for a small, cheap NAS with some fault-tolerance.  I first consider the D-Link DNS-323.  Everything about it sounded great.  As I read reviews in December 2006 it appears it had trouble with directories that had lots and lots of small files.  I'm assuming that will get fixed soon but I really couldn't wait. 

Next I came to the HP Media Vault.  Things I liked included:

  • Ability to mirror two 500GB drives.  The devices uses SATA drives.  It ships with one drive and you buy a second drive separately.  There's also a version that includes a 300Gb drive.  You can either mirror the drives or run without fault-tolerance.
  • 1 Gbit Ethernet.  I'm not actually running this myself but I'd like to do a little future-proofing.  It's one of the better performers on the NAS performance charts.  It also supports 100Mbit.
  • One of the developers of the device (Lee) runs a informational web page and a Yahoo group.  As of January 2006 the web site is being updated regularly and the group is very active.  I was able to find out more details about the device from both locations.  I was able to find out the exact model of hard drive in the until and buy an identical one.
  • The device automatically powers down if it isn't used for a certain amount of time.  It includes a RAM cache in the device so its responsive even before the drives spin up.
  • Setup of the device was very easy.  Even adding a second drive was straightforward.
  • It has a couple of USB ports for printers. 

Things I didn't like or didn't care about:

  • It includes lots of fancy media sharing stuff.  Really, I just don't care.
  • The process to replace a failed drive looks a little more complicated than just plugging a new drive in.  And the process is different depending whether the main drive or the mirror has failed.  That said after reviewing the process it doesn't really look that hard.  Lee has some additional notes on this process on his web site.
  • Mirroring and empty drive took a long, long time.  As in it mirrored the entire drive even though it was empty.  The device was usable while this was going on but slow.
  • As of January 2006 there are some minor issues with Vista.  As of January 2006 I'm not running Vista so I really don't care.
  • It's a little larger than some of the other devices.  it does fit very nicely right next to my laser printer.
  • It includes its own backup software.  I'm just using NTBackup and SQL Server's backup though.

Overall I've been very happy with the new device.  I've consolidated all my photos, backup files, SQL Server trace files and every other big file that didn't have a home on it.

In the future the Microsoft Home Server sounds like an interesting choice.  But for today I'm very happy with my Media Vault.

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