Checking out the HP DataVault

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HP has had this product called the DataVault for some time now, but it’s kind of been flying under the radar. Everyone seems to know about Home Server but they don’t realize that HP has taken Microsoft’s Home Server and given it a business twist by boosting the specs and changing the name to make it easier to sell to a small business.

And now we break for a moment of disclosure. While I’ve previously purchased the HP DataVault for clients, recently HP sent me one for testing and that’s what has prompted this blog post.

We bought the DataVault for a small accounting client who had 7 PC’s and a SnapServer whose password they didn’t know when they came to us. Each of these PC’s have multiple versions of Quickbooks and a couple of other accounting packages, but no two PC’s are exactly the same. Each person working there needs certain accounting packages but not others and so that’s how they’ve got the PC’s loaded. Now because they were self IT’ing, each of those packages was also using factory default settings which means that they are saving data to every PC. (RED FLAG!)  Each person was responsible for backing up their stuff. Shared documents were stored on the SnapServer whose admin password they didn’t know.

“How soon before you have 8, 9, or 10 people and computers here?” Never. “Never?” Never.

That’s not unusual. A lot of small businesses are happy and content with the size they are and have no plans to grow. So we could re-organize the whole network, switch over to network controlled applications, centralize data storage, create a domain, yada, yada, yada but this business owner liked things they way they were. They were really only concerned about the SnapServer issue, until we pointed out the rest. They didn’t want a total makeover, they just wanted a solution for the problems at hand. That’s why we chose the DataVault.

The DataVault comes in 1, 2 or 3TB divided on two drives leaving 2 open internal bays, 4 usb ports and a sata port externally. We got it from Amazon for well under $1000.  If you have a massive amount of data there are plenty of ports available with which to add more drive space and because it’s Home Server under the hood, you don’t even have to care what kind of drive you add later.

So the DataVault goes into place, we setup workstation backup (comes with data de-duplication technology so after the first workstation is backed up they don’t take up that much space) and we move the shared folders over. We also setup a couple of people with remote access to their PC’s so they can work those crazy accountant busy season hours from home. A happy ending for everyone! Until…

…disaster struck. (Is this a perfect case study or what?) A system board failed. After troubleshooting we placed a call to HP. HP shipped out a replacement under warranty. Now, if you know something about Home Server, then you know it’s an appliance by design. That is, you don’t install the OS it comes installed and every single one is identical. If you know about the DataVault then you know every single piece of hardware is identical. Holding our breath, we pulled the drives from the dead DataVault and put them into the new DataVault and booted.

Bling! Perfect, nothing had to be reconfigured, no new drivers loaded, no new hardware was detected…it just booted up like nothing happened. A happy ending for all. We do love the DataVault. It fits particular very small clients really well and we have several of them deployed and under management.

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