Workstation backup is handled by FalconStor’s DiskSafe Express utility although only providing a two-user license is a bit mean. Before you install it you’ll need to download the latest iSCSI initiator from Microsoft but it’s not a problem if you’re unfamiliar with iSCSI as once the software has been loaded DiskSafe handles all target identification, logon and virtual disk mounting for you. From the DiskSafe interface you decide which drives or partitions you want to protect, select the easyStore appliance from the list, provide a password and set a backup schedule. Note that the remote backups can only be accessed using the DiskSafe software and only four versions are supported, which means you’ll only have four days worth of protection if you run daily backups. When DiskSafe fires up a backup it logs on to the iSCSI target presented by the appliance, mounts the virtual drive and secures the selected drives or partitions to it. This is all handled in the background so you don’t need to get involved at all.
For testing we used a SuperMicro 3GHz dual Xeon 5160 server running Windows Server 2003 R2. Backup is a lengthy process as copying a 7.8GB system partition over Gigabit Ethernet took 16 minutes for an average speed of only 8.3MB/sec whilst a 50GB data partition returned 13.5MB/sec. However, from this point on all subsequent backups only secure new data so are a lot quicker. With an extra 23MB of test data added to our system partition we watched DiskSafe complete the next backup in only three minutes.
File and folder recovery is nicely handled as you select a backup from the DiskSafe interface whereupon it logs on to the relevant target causing the backup to appear as a local drive with a new drive letter. You can then use Windows Explorer and copy data back across using drag and drop. You can also restore an entire non-system drive from here as well. The bare metal recovery process starts by booting the PC from the supplied CD-ROM which loads FalconStor’s recovery environment and iSCSI initiator. You enter the names of the appliance and PC, provide the password and then you can select a partition to restore. We found the process went very smoothly and were able to restore our 7.8GB system partition back to active duty in only sixteen minutes.
As a NAS appliance the easyStore leaves a lot to be desired as its features are very basic. Nevertheless, it offers plenty of storage for the price and its iSCSI based data backup and bare metal recovery features make it a unique proposition.
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