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Hybrid Cloud

A new feature that LaCie urged us to look at is the 5bigPro's "hybrid cloud" integration, which provides cloud storage, backup and synchronization that is focused on your network's computers, not the 5bigPro's storage itself. You get 5 GB of Wuala storage per user and there is no limit on the number of users on the NAS. LaCie also bundles a three month trial for Wuala Business, which provides 100 GB of storage that can be shared by up to five users.

The cloud portion of the feature is provided by Wuala, a LaCie company. I found the setup a bit difficult and frustrating, however. You need to create an account for each user that will be using the service. But in order to create an account, you need to download and install a client either on your Windows or MacOS computer.

Optionally, the Wuala installer will give you the chance to deselect either of the options enabled by default. If you leave them checked, Wuala will automatically map Drive W: for its service. That's OK unless you are already using drive W (which I was). After installation and the mandatory reboot, I think that Wuala and Windows were fighting for control of drive W. I shut down Wuala, disconnected my previous drive mapping and re-enabled Wuala. Wuala then mapped "W" for its network share.

I created a Wuala user (smallnetbuilder) and provided an email address for validation. After I validated the email, I was able to log into Wuala through the Wuala interface. The interface screenshot below shows Files of smallnetbuilder and had automatically created default folders for Documents, Music, Videos and Photos.

Synching a folder between Wuala cloud and a folder on my computer

Synching a folder between Wuala cloud and a folder on my computer

The screenshot also shows me setting up directory sync between a folder on my computer and my Wuala storage. As the files sync, they are uploaded to Wuala. Once in the cloud, you can access them with a Wuala client that's available on iOS and Android. And, since I had enabled Windows Explorer integration, Drive W shows these folders as well. Though the smallnetbuilder files and folders are stored on the NAS, you won't see them - even as administrator, without being logged in through Wuala.

Once you set up the sync job, any files that change are automatically synchronized with Wuala. For this review, I also setup a sync for the parent directory that holds all of the working files that I use in the development of the review. As I made changes and moved files from one folder to another, those changes were immediately synchronized with the NAS and Wuala, and I was able to use them on my iPad.

My5bigPro folders on my iPad synchronized by Wuala
My5bigPro folders on my iPad synchronized by Wuala

Wuala is a feature-rich product with many features aimed at businesses. For the features I tested, it worked well after I got over the initial configuration issues. But once again, note that Wuala backs up and and syncs MacOS and Windows client storage, not the 5bigPro's storage itself.

Disaster Recovery

Just the name tells you that you're not in for a good time. No one looks forward to a disaster. But the 5bigPro provides a way to recover from a disaster. Included with the device is an 8 GB USB key. Should you need to recover your device, the USB key is supposed to be your key to recovery.

If you read through the instruction manual, it will direct you to a website to download recovery key software. The software compares the current version to what's on the factory-supplied key. If you're out of date, you download the program (141 MB for Windows) and run an installer. It will create a bootable USB key that you can use for recovery. You then need to do a couple of things prior to recovery, i.e note the IP address of the LAN1 interface and write down the MAC address of the 5bigPro's LAN1 interface. The MAC address is printed on a label on the bottom of the 5bigPro's case.

If possible, it will be handy to connect a VGA monitor to the VGA port on the back of the 5bigPro. You can watch the boot sequence, and if you don't have the information listed above, it will appear on the screen during the boot process. To recover your NAS do the following:

  • Power down the NAS, hopefully after backing up all of the data.
  • Plug in a VGA monitor (optional)
  • Plug in the USB bootable rescue key to a USB port
  • Press and hold the reset (eboot) button as you power up the NAS. You can use the drive key or a paper clip.
  • After the drive activity lights turn solid blue, you can release the eboot (reset) button.
  • Login in to the IP address of your NAS - a Rescue screen will appear.

For this test, I just powered down the 5bigPro. I wasn't having any problems, but I wanted to go through the recovery process to see what would happen. None of the data on the NAS was important - it was all backed up in at least two places elsewhere.

Image Gallery 2

I downloaded the update and ran the installer to update my key - the supplied key had an old version of firmware. I booted the 5bigPro following the instructions. After the 5bigPro boots from the USB key, enter the IP address of the device into your browser. This lands you at the Rescue Utility home page. You are prompted to enter the MAC address of your device, and are then presented with three options. For my test, I selected the least onerous option - System Repair, followed by Preserve Original Shares. Your other options are to Enable FTP Access so that you can download your data via FTP, or a Install LaCie NAS OS during which the disks are reformatted

The results of the exercise were:

  • The 5bigPro didn't lose any data
  • All user accounts were wiped out and had to be recreated.
  • Shares were preserved, but access rights had to be re-established.
  • Application services (DLNA/Time Machine/iTunes) were reset to factory defaults.
  • Remote access was disabled - I had to manually reset a port in order to get it to work again.
  • Wuala was broken - the original device was no longer recognized, and when I tried to add the device back in again, I got an error code.

While I was happy that I hadn't lost any data, I was disappointed that almost everything was reset to factory defaults. It would be nice if there were a way to save your configuration to a file so that you could restore most of your settings. Even a $50 router lets you save your configuration out to your computer so that you can restore it if needed.

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