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In Use

The slideshow will walk you through most of the 5big's admin screens. The 5big is primarily focused on file serving, so you won't find any media servers. Curiously, however, you do get a download manager, but it does Torrent downloads only. If you're looking for print serving, you also won't find it, nor will the 5big hook up with your UPS so that it can shut down safely in the event of a power failure.

On the positive side, and as you would expect given LaCie's history, the 5big is both Windows and Mac OS friendly. It supports AFP, which is enabled by default and both Windows and Mac OS flavors of Apple's Bonjour. And for client backup, LaCie throws in 3 licenses each of Genie Backup Manager Pro for Windows and Intego Backup Manager Pro for Mac OS. You can also browse, upload, download and delete files using a web browser, which could be handy for remote access. And since the 5big supports HTTPS for both admin and file browsing, your access can be secure.

Since the 5big doesn't have features aimed at consumers, it's reasonable to assume that the 5big is after small-biz and home office buyers. But aside from being able to use Active Directory (which I didn't test) for user authentication, the product is missing key features that serious storage buyers need.

Scheduled backups are supported, but only to shares on internal or external attached drives. There is no over-the-network backup or synchronization for keeping data safe from physical damage, theft and controller and power-supply failure.

While there are email alerts, I wasn't able to get them to work. I don't know what the problem is, since the log was unhelpful for debugging this issue and, frankly, in general. The 5big's manual says that it has its own SMTP server, but it's a black box with nothing you can tweak. The manual offers this note, however:

"The 5big has an integrated SMTP server that sends emails through port 25. This service is thus disabled if port 25 is blocked (as with Livebox, Orange, and France Telecom). As many ISPs block this port, you must configure your router to authorize traffic through this port in order for this service to work."

I bolded that last part, since it makes no sense to me that opening a port for an outbound service would help or even be required.

Drive Fail Test

In his review, Craig found that the 2big handled drive failure and recovery without incident and I'm happy to report that the 5big behaves nicely in this department, too. I did my testing in a RAID 10 + spare configuration and first started by starting a large folder copy and pulling one drive.

After a short time, the System > RAID screen showed a RAID type of RAID 10 (instead of RAID 10 + spare) and that it it had automatically started syncing the former spare drive into the RAID 10 array (Figure 3). Meanwhile the file copy continued without a problem.

Single drive RAID 10+spare mode failure
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: Single drive RAID 10+spare mode failure

However, the big ol' front panel light continued to shine steady blue, offering no indication that anything was amiss. While it's true that the RAID 10 array was chugging right along with the spare drive automatically swapped in, a drive had failed after all. So I think that some indication of failure should be shown when a spare drive is swapped in so that the bad drive can be replaced.

I then shut down the system before the resync was complete, reinserted the original drive and powered back up. The 5big once again automatically detected the change and indicated that it was resyncing, but with the RAID type changed back to RAID 10 + spare. However, this time the front panel light did blink to indicate that an array was rebuilding. The original spare drive was now part of the RAID 10 array and the drive I had first pulled now marked as the spare.

The second test consisted of starting another large folder copy then pulling two drives after I let the synchronization from my first test fully complete. Once again, as Figure 4 shows, the RAID type changed to RAID 10. But this time an odd message was displayed next to the System indicator (Figure 4).

Two drive RAID 10+spare mode failure

Figure 4: Two drive RAID 10+spare mode failure

The good news is that it indicates that something isn't right. But it doesn't really properly describe what has happened and what the person seeing the message needs to do! I completed the test by stopping the file copy, which had continued without so much as a hiccup, shutting down the system and reinserting the two drives.

After the system finished booting and I was able to log in, I once again found that the system had gone back to RAID 10 + spare mode and had started another slightly over 2 hour resync.

Even though the status indicators were not that clear and at times confusing, I give the 5big two thumbs up for smooth and automatic recovery from drive failure.

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