HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault Perfect for Any Home or Office

Editors Disclaimer: This StorageWorks x510 Data Vault is a review unit sent to me from HP. They asked me to test and report my findings. Although the Data Vault is a review model, my review is based on honest observations. Any questions – please refer to the review policy page for more information

When I first pulled this device out of the box, I thought to myself – Wow. It’s not like my last Data Storage device. The last one was 3x the size, held 5 SCSI drives that didn’t even go to 100 GB, had two power supplies and weighed about 100 lbs. I looked like one of those guys in the Worlds Strongest Man Competition trying to haul that puppy up and downstairs when I moved it.

X510 Data Vault HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault Perfect for Any Home or Office

All right — Let’s start with the basics. The X510 case doesn’t even stand on 1 foot high, therefore it can be put in any corner of the room. The front display –four blue lights — can be turned on or off through the LED settings in the software. Inside is a Pentium dual core CPU running at 2.49 GHz with with 2 GB of RAM.the X510 also comes with two — 1 TB Seagate hard drives, ready for any data that you can throw at it, but if you want to fill the other two bays, or put in higher capacity hard drives, then the X5 10 is flexible for your data needs.

The data vault also comes with an eSATA port and four USB ports. Three discs come with the X510 — the setup disk, the PC restore disk, and the Server recovery disk. The main setup disk is probably the most important piece out of the three — for now. Since there is no video or CD ROM on the Data Vault, you will have to rely on setting it up through another PC or Mac running Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, MCE, or Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

Other requirements:a router with DHCP enabled and a broadband connection to get out into the Internet. Also included in the Data Vault is an ethernet cable, a power cable and all documentation needed to connect the device and get started.

Setup is pretty straightforward. Plug the data vault into the wall,  or your favorite surge protector, then connect the data vault to your network. Insert the CD into your PC or Mac and run through the setup. The data vault software will guide you through setting up your data vault.
ss17 Welcom and Tag Line HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault Perfect for Any Home or Office

The X510 Data Vault runs the Windows Home Server operating system. Turn the data vault on, and you will see two solid blue lights, and one flashing light toward the bottom. This third light is important, for it will tell you if there is any problems with your Data Vault. Once the third light turns in solid blue, you know you are ready to use the device.

The Windows home server console is the main interface. From here you can set up new machines, install applications such as antivirus software, set up your home media server or iTunes server, or set up a Data Vault to be accessed from the Internet.Web an iPhone streaming allow you to get your content mobile and even global.

The media server uses HP media collector, HP video converter, and HP photo publisher to organize and play your media. You can easily set up user accounts and folders for those users to access. You can make photos and videos private, or public.

You can add more software to the data vault at any time. Keep in mind that this is a server version of the OS, and standard software may not run on this computer. For example, I attempted to set up a live stream from this machine using the free uStream producer.the program was unable to start due to the direct 3-D hardware accelerator not being able to work through a remote desktop connection.  Other software simply would error out – For example, I attempted to use the DisplayLink dongle I recieved at CES to access the Data Vault  without remote desktop. The Fujitsu Software was not supported on the OS, with no update. Therefore, i still needed another machine to drive the Data Vault.

HP has a collection of free trials that you can load onto your home server. Programs like PerfectDisk 10 and Diskeeper — which are both hard drive defragmentation software, Adobe Photoshop elements — where you can edit and create photos, and Rhapsody music service.  TwonkyMedia is already pre-installed on the X510. With this program, you can set what you want to share, who you want to share it for,and metrics — setting up logging files to see who listens to what or watches what.

Meat and Potatoes of the Data Vault

The first thing you want to do after setup, is back up your main machine. With the software installed, open up the Windows Home Server Console, choose computers and backup, then configure a backup of your machine. You can set it to backup at specific times, or backup right now.

*One note about this area — by setting a schedule, your computer will turn on. This may cause confusion, especially if you turn your computer off when you leave. I have my desktop and my laptop both set up with the Windows home server console, and they would both mysteriously turn back on, even when the notebook wasn’t in range of the home server to backup. You must go into the settings — right-click on the home server icon– an unselect “Wake this computer for backup”.

A couple months back, I did a Techpodcasts Roundtable on how to set up the data vault as a podcaster streaming device. This makes a great alternate device for any podcaster or video caster and their media — although you don’t want to make it your primary source. I also wrote an article on how to set it up as an Apache server — which could cause some problems with the IIS server that is set up for the Data Vault and Web access. Therefore, you will have to know a little bit about IIS and Apache to make the two work together.

Since the drives are not in a RAID configuration, your backup may take a little longer than usual. HP doesn’t set these drives to RAID, but they do claim to write data to both drives simultaneously — creating a mirror effect  for the drives. That way, if one drive errors out, you haven’t lost your data. In a two drive configuration, mirroring the drive is actually the best solution.

I did crash my Data Vault a couple times intentionally. I wanted to see how the restore software functioned. The first thing I did was restore the data vault so I wouldn’t lose any data. Unfortunately, something happened during the process and although I didn’t lose any data, I couldn’t access it — I didn’t know the passwords that it reset to. Now keep in mind; this was my fault. I went through the process without watching all the screens. However, when I got to a critical point, it errored out and I couldn’t go back to correct my mistakes.

The second crash, I decided to do a full restore. The process is pretty straightforward — first of all, find a paperclip. Unbend the paperclip, and then turn on the data vault. In the front, there is an inverted button which you must hold down using the paperclip to get it ready for reinstall. Insert the server recovery disk and go through the process. Once again, make sure you read all the prompts or else you may be doing this again.

What I found very interesting, was the PC restore disk. Usually I use Acronis to back up my machines. I would turn them on, insert the disc, then set the drives I want to back up and where I want to back him up to. With the PC restore disk, all I have to do is set up the one machine, back it up, then reboot the computer with the PC restore disk inserted and go through the process to restore the hard drive. Both methods work very well.

One addition I would love to see in the data vault, is the option for a one-time backup. That way, if I’m backing up — let’s say my mother’s PC — then I can set it up for one-time backup, and it doesn’t have to be on the network. Once you backup the machine, the data vault will want to reconnect with that machine and will complain if it doesn’t see it in a while.

It is also important if I have a mobile USB drive. I want to back that up just as much — if not more — than my computer itself. However, if I connected to a machine and set it up for backup, it configures it with the rest of that machines’ backup. When the drive is gone, the data vault complains.

Accessing from the Internet

The Data Vault sets up a URL for you to connect to. Mine was geekazine.hpshare.net. You would have an interface in where you can access files, show off photos and videos or Remote Access. One problem I had with the access is that the settings on the Data Vault console would not connect to the router properly. The Remote Access Repair Wizard would only say that “A local web server or firewall issue may have occurred.” There was no additional instruction to this error. I had set up the router to accept the Data Vault for remote access and even checked with my ISP to make sure I could do this on my system.

Summary

First of all, I believe this is a great device for Intermediate to Advanced computer users. If you don’t work on your own machines, then you might need some help setting up the Data Vault to function properly. Especially if you have any network issues. For instance, upon reload of the Data Vault, my PC came up with a Certificate issue when trying to Remote Desktop into the device.

The X510 is a great machine to hold backups of a handful of computers. If you have more than 10 machines backing up to the system, you might want to add more hard drives to the X510. Of course if you have 5 machines that hold tons of data, you may also want to upgrade the drives on the Data Vault.

The X510 is also perfect for media distribution. As an iTunes server, you will be able to collectively keep your music in one area. The media organizer and iPhone converter allow you to not only watch movies and other video from the Data Vault, but also watch them on your mobile device. The websites are easy to navigate and pull media from a remote location.

While I would love to see a little more flexibility with how you back up systems, what it can do is keep your PC or Mac properly backed up. The PC restore option is also a great addition – no need to image your drive on a weekly basis. The incremental backup can get your system functional again with little to no data loss.

I did have problems with a couple of the error messages, for they didn’t really direct me properly. Nonetheless, I was able to figure the issues out and go from there. Still, most of the errors I saw were from extreme testing and the average user probably won’t see those.

Final conclusion: The HP X510 Data Vault is perfect for those who need a backup solution or media sharing solution. The $699 price tag is not that shabby either. Home or office, the Data Vault is a great addition to your computer network. And you don’t have to be the World’s Strongest Man to haul it around, either.

About Jeffrey Powers - @geekazine

I am a podcaster and V-Caster. I love to go out and talk tech with anyone. I enjoy talking with startups because they have new and innovative technologies. You can find Geekazine at Google+ and me at my page. I also have shows at Day in Tech History, iPad365, This Week in Google Glass and a Podcast Coach at How to Record Podcasts. You can also sign up for a Helpout