On The Inside
Figure 3: Circuit Board component side
Figure 3 shows the component side of the circuit board. You can see that the Media Hub is based on Marvell's 88F5182 "Orion" NAS SoC along with 128 MB of RAM and two flash memories: 64 MB and 512 KB. The gigabit Ethernet LAN port is supported by the ubiquitous Marvell 88E1118 found in many NAS products. However, the Media Hub does not support jumbo frames. Other devices include an Alco Micro AU6254 USB 2.0 Hub controller and Realtek RTS5151 all-in-one card reader / controller.
Figure 4: Circuit Board circuit side
Figure 4 shows that the SATA drive connectors are mounted directly on the circuit side of the board.
Setup is accomplished using a CD-based wizard. Although you can access the Media Hub’s content and shares with a Mac, the supplied setup software, as well as the import utility and third party backup software are for Windows Vista and XP only.
The wizard walks you through connecting the power and networking cables and then boots the Media Hub. After discovering the NMH on the network, the wizard prompts you to enter a “friendly” name and set an administrative password. That completes hardware setup.
Next, you install the client software. It consists of an Import Tool that discovers and copies media files to the Media Hub, as well as a customized version of NTI’s Shadow backup software.
Figure 5: Media Hub Import Tool
Figure 5 shows the options available for the Import Tool. The tool will search for all media files (photos, videos, and music), or you can select which folders to search. If you add additional media content, the Import Tool will automatically copy those files to the Media Hub.
Figure 6: Advanced Import Tool Options
Figure 6 shows the directories I selected using the advanced option on the Import Tool. The tool identified 3.13 GB of data to transfer. You can install the Import Tool, as well as NTI Shadow on multiple computers. Files copied to the Media hub reside on a share named “media” in a subdirectory named “import”. There are separate subdirectories based on the computer name for each system that copies files to the Media Hub. The Media Hub crawls all of the \import directories, as well as the default \photos, \videos and \music folders to aggregate all media files.
Figure 7: NTI Shadow Default Backup Job
Often, the backup software included with NAS products isn’t very good. However, that’s not the case with NTI Shadow. Figure 7 shows the default job that’s automatically created when you install NTI Shadow. The job backs up your documents every hour. You can also create additional backup jobs to back up whatever files you want on a schedule that you can set.
I do have one word of caution, however. The default document and spreadsheet files backed up by the default job are .doc and .xls. If you are using the current version of Office (2007) and the corresponding defaults of .docx and .xlsx, you’ll need to modify the default job to include those extensions. The default job won’t back those files up.
NTI Shadow is nicely integrated with the Media Hub. The Media Hub has a default share named \backup and backed up files are placed in subdirectories named for each computer that’s running the software. Unfortunately, NTI Shadow does not perform image backups that can be used for "bare metal" system recovery – it would be great if it did.
Figure 8: NTI Shadow Job Wizard
The Job Wizard, shown in Figure 8, lets you schedule your backup jobs as frequently as every time a file changes. Other options (not shown above) include saving multiple versions as well as designating a job as “on demand”. On demand jobs can be launched remotely from the front panel controls of the Media Hub or from the browser-based configuration backup page.