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The Squeezebox Squares Off Against The High End, Cont.

What really scared the crap out of me was losing all my ripped files and my many hours ripping work to a disc disaster or to a PC virus.  If I just had an all-Mac setup, the latter would have been of no concern as MacOS X has been, until now at least, free of these annoying little PC bastards. As for the former, there is always the danger that a drive may go kaput, no matter what OS you are using.

My test network consists of Windows XP and MacOS X machines, with the occasional Linux machine thrown in.  It was thus mandatory that whatever storage device I used for my ripped music also had to accommodate all these computer systems, just like SlimServer does. Unfortunately, cross platform network storage options for home consumer use are still limited.  Maybe with the hop by Jobs to Intel processors this situation will begin to improve. But in the meanwhile, I did manage to come up with a good solution, despite some operating system nitpicks.

One was a storage/backup product from Seagate called Mirra.  The other was a Network Attached Storage device from Plextor, the PX-EH.  The two products are totally dissimilar, but both do their respective jobs extremely well.Seagate acquired Mirra and its consumer storage product line in late 2005. The Mirra product that Seagate sells is a Linux server that uses a Via processor on a micro-ATX board.  The Mirra is actually a complete computer system complete with dual USB ports and VGA connections. But it is not a traditional file server for direct data storage, nor a general purpose Linux box. You can only access the Mirra system via Web browser. The Mirra web pages feature a customized set of commands expressly designed for backup and restore.  Mirra is also not a RAID device, and uses a single drive, up to 400GB, depending on the system model.

Mirra runs silently in the background, automatically and continuously backing up your data and there is no need to set time of day or date to do backups. It does not back up system or OS files, though. One Mirra server can service an unlimited number of PC’s, but as a practical matter, Seagate suggests attaching no more than 5 computers for optimal performance. Mirra can also backup Windows 2000 and Windows 3003 Servers. But note that Mirra is not an application server.

Mirra Server

Significantly, you can use your Mirra system for remote web access and file sharing, free of charge.  You can access any of your Mirra-hosted music, as well as all other file types, from wherever you are, via a secure 128-bit SSL encrypted connection. To access your files over the Internet, you create a Mirra account, log in and provide your password. You then access and download your files off your personal Mirra server. None of your files are ever stored on other servers, except your own. You can also modify files remotely and your Mirra Server at home will back up the revised versions. As the Mirra server is always on, you can access your files even if your home computer is off.

 Because the Mirra system uses Linux you are free of worrying about a PC virus nailing your files. In the event of a Mirra disk disaster, Seagate offers three years of tech support to restore your data. Seagate will also pay back and forth shipping costs of your Mirra server for data recovery at the factory.  If Seagate can’t recover your Mirra files, the company will pay up to $1,000 to a third party service to recover your files.  You can’t beat that. But this is a one-time retrieval deal. Screw the Mirra data pooch twice, like with a nasty PC virus, and you are seriously shit of out luck. Buy a Mac.

In operation, the Mirra server worked unnoticed in the background.  The only thing you see is that your files and folders selected for backup sport a red Mirra logo.  The Mirra user interface for backup and restore is simple, logical, and easy to use. Bottom line, this is one of the easiest and most convenient consumer backup system I have used. The Mirra comes in a 160GB ($279.99); 250GB ($399.99) and 400GB ($499.99) disc drive configurations. Plus, the latest Mirra software client supports MacOS X,and it works flawlessly. Bonus!

But, I wanted the flexibility of using a standalone network drive or a server so I could turn off all my computers, save one, be it a Mac or PC, to access my ripped audio files--and avoid NStar’s surcharge price gouging. (Funny, I don’t recall ticking off a box on my electric bill to contribute to VP Cheney...)  The SlimServer software requires that it be installed and executing on at least one system.  Slim Devices supports Linux, so a nice hack for someone out there would be getting SlimServer up and running on a Mirra system.  That would be cool, indeed, so hurry up, all ready

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21st, The VXM Network, http://www.vxm.com

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