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 Snap Server 1000

 Author: Eric Griffith
 Review Date: 12/23/2001


Model: 7070004-001 -- MSRP $499

A server can be a lot of things: it can be your gateway to the Web, an e-mail box, the streaming multimedia broadcaster, or a simple repository of files for sharing among office mates. File sharing is, arguably the number one motivation people for setting up a server. When all you need is basic file sharing, don't empty your wallet on a high end computer with an operating system so challenging you'll need certification classes just to learn how to run it. A plug-and-play network attached storage (NAS) device will have everyone on the network swapping files in a matter of minutes.

The Snap Server 1000 is a perfect example of the simplicity and ease of use a NAS unit offers. Snap's are platform- and protocol-agnostic; they work with Windows, Mac, Novell, and Linux systems and support multiple transport protocols including AppleTalk, Ethernet, NetBEUI and IPX. The 1000 is the low-end of Quantum Corporation's Snap Server line; at the top is a rack-mounted 1 terabyte unit priced at just under $15,000.

The Snap Server 1000 is available in modest 40GB and 80GB versions perfect for SOHOs; we reviewed the 40GB version. When it first appeared on the scene, it was only 10GB for $499, but that price now gets you 40GB (you'll pay $799 for the 80GB version). That's about the same price as the Netgear ND520 Network Disk Drive but with twice the capacity and support for more operating systems.

Pros:

Works with Windows, Mac, Linux
Quiet like a mouse
Easily configured via Web browser
Up to 100Mbps Ethernet speed

Cons:

Upgrading the drive voids warranty

Installation

Snap Server 1000 is only 3.5 lbs and measures only 5 by 9 by 3 inches, so it fits nicely on a shelf next to the router/switch/hub you plug it into during Quantum's "five minute installation". That claim is not far off the mark. The unit has minimal buttons (just power and reset) and connectors: one for power and one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port for the patch cord connection to the network.

If you've got DHCP running from any system or router, the Snap Server 1000 will automatically acquire an IP address and be ready for use. If not, Windows users can pop in the CD-ROM to launch the Assist program. Assist automatically launches and runs from the CD on any Windows machine, no installation required. It scans for and locates any Snap Server on the network and lets you launch the configuration tool in your Web browser without having to know the exact IP address of the Snap. Mac users also get software help from the CD.

Setup and Admin

From your Web browser you enter the Snap1000 Administration tool, either via the method above or by using the IP address. The Quick Configure tool lets you alter default settings, like the recognized name of the unit, whether it uses DHCP or an IP address you specify, whether it should be part of a workgroup or domain, and so on.

Security restrictions include defining users of the network based on what it gets from a Microsoft domain or a Novell network bindery server if you've got that kind of setup. More modest networks builders can define local users individually on the Snap. Once you've setup a number of users, you can define groups and give them special permissions as needed. You must set up folders on the Snap as shares that can be accessed by the users or groups you specify. You can also specify how much storage space users is allowed to take up.

Snap also comes with PowerQuest's DataKeeper, so you can setup automatic file backups to and from the Snap.

Actual Use

Windows users access a Snap Server share just like they would a share on any hard drive on the network: via Windows's Network Neighborhood (AKA My Network Places when using Windows ME/2000/XP) or the Chooser on the Macintosh. With PCs, map the Snap to a drive letter on each system and you're ready to share. In my tests, I set up the Snap at the Z: drive on several PCs including two wireless laptops that connect to the network via an 802.11b access point. Neither remote system had a problem recognizing the Snap Server share, though I've had numerous issues trying to get the various versions of Windows on the network to see each other with any clarity.

You can even use the Snap Server as a Web server, making it perfect for an office Intranet. Just don't plan on getting fancy, as there's no support for PERL, Java, includes, streaming, or other fancy extras. All you get is no-frills HTTP 1.0 read-only access. FTP is also supported. Serving Web pages from the 1000 was plenty fast on the internal network.

The drive in the Snap Server 1000 is formatted to FAT and has only a usable 37GB of space.

Performance

To test how fast the Snap Server 1000 was, I did some simple drag-and-drop file copy tests from different client systems on the network. All clients and the Snap Server were connected to a 10/100 switch, with all indicators showing a 100Mbps speed.

Test Description

File Copy Time in seconds
[14.3MB file size]

Client 1 to Client 2

43

Client 1 to Snap Server 1000

10

Client 2 to Snap Server 1000

42

File duplication on Snap Server 1000

16

Client 1: Pentium III 1GHz, 512MB RAM, Windows XP Pro
Client 2: Pentium II 450MHz, 64MB RAM, Windows 2000
Note: The slow copy times are a reflection of the processor speed and memory of Client 2.

Summary

Five hundred bucks seems like a lot to pay for a 40GB hard drive when you can find an 80GB EIDE 7200RPM drive for as low as $150. However the shared facilities, utilities, and security a Snap Server brings to the table are not to be overlooked. Before you invest in a full server, consider this kind of simple storage upgrade for your network first.


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