Viridian PC Systems OfficeStor Express review
A good value Windows powered NAS box with a fast performance, the latest WD Red drives and plenty of backup features
Founded in 2011, Lancashire-based PC company Viridian may be new to the network storage game, but it doesn’t lack ambition. According to its website, its goal is to offer the “finest range of home and SMB servers in the world”. In this exclusive review, we look at its OfficeStor Express NAS appliance to see if it’s on the right track.
Whereas Viridian’s OfficeStor Pro appliances are built to order with a choice of CPUs, memory and hard disks, the Express models are preconfigured and ready to go out of the box. These four-bay boxes are supplied with Western Digital’s latest Red SATA hard disks; we had the 12TB model.
The Express comes with Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (WSSE) preinstalled. Supporting up to 25 users, this provides simple file-sharing, PC backup and recovery services, plus secure web access for remote users.
Installation starts with a local connection to the appliance, where WSSE handles secure admin access and automatic updates. You then download the Connector and Launchpad software by pointing a web browser at the appliance from each client and following the instructions.
The Dashboard provides access to all WSSE features for general management. After receiving the Connector, each PC appears in the Dashboard ready for backup configuration.
Backups can be run for entire machines or selected files and folders, and you decide how long to keep daily, weekly and monthly backups. They can’t be scheduled for a specific time; instead, WSSE uses a time window during which it attempts to run as many as possible.
Administrators of larger sites may find this a problem, since WSSE can run only one client backup at a time. However, it applies VSS snapshots and block-level deduplication, so jobs finish quickly after the first backup.
The Launchpad utility provides users with access to backup status, shared folders, remote web access and the Dashboard. The web console lets users access the appliance over the web, view their shares and media folders, and fire up an RDP session with their PC.
For data restoration, the Dashboard must be run from the PC with admin privileges. The user can then choose a backup job and volume, pick a file or folder, and return it to its original place or another location. Full bare-metal recovery is a standard WSSE feature and is easy to use. Pop a USB stick in the appliance and it will format it as a bootable Full System Restore disk. Boot the sick PC from the stick and it loads a wizard, connects to the appliance and restores it.
Viridian’s competition comes from Western Digital’s Sentinel DX4000 and LaCie’s 5big Office+. Price-wise, the Express is on a par with both, but it has a much faster processor and twice the memory, which can be expanded to the full 8GB supported by WSSE.
The hardware made its mark in our real-world tests, with drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip over Gigabit returning read and write speeds of 97MB/sec. Both WD and LaCie failed to muster more than 78MB/sec for this test.
IP SAN support is also provided, with InteliSAN’s LDisk-D add-in module included in the price. Normally costing an extra £50, it supports iSCSI targets, online target expansion and snapshots. IP SAN performance is excellent, with Iometer reporting a speedy 112MB/sec raw read rate for a 50GB target. LDisk-D also functions as an initiator, so it can log on to other devices presenting iSCSI targets. We had no problems using one of the lab’s Qnap appliances to donate extra storage to the Express.
The Virivault cloud backup service is the required add-in comes preinstalled. Virivault is better value than LaCie’s Wuala service – 100GB costs £240 per year – and we found it easier to use: a wizard guides you through backup plan creation. After selecting any folder on the appliance, you can opt for daily, weekly and monthly backups, choose continuous synchronisation and have all backups encrypted. Data availability shouldn’t be an issue since Virivault is hosted by Amazon S3, and you can choose remote storage facilities in Europe or the US.
All in all, we’re impressed with Viridian’s OfficeStor Express. This home-grown NAS appliance is better value than the equivalent models from LaCie and Western Digital, it beats those Atom-based boxes for performance, and provides valuable off-site backup and disaster recovery tools.
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Idle power consumption||40W|
|Peak power consumption||56W|
|Dimensions||200 x 300 x 250mm (WDH)|
|Software supplied||Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials|