Data Vault X310 Review

HP Data Vault X300 Earlier in 2010, I reviewed HP's Data Vault X510. As a small business solution for backups of important office data, the Data Vault line of products is a great choice, especially for small companies with no dedicated IT team. More recently, HP added the X310 to the Data Vault line, removing some features and focusing more on the core backup and restore functionality. I received a loaner X310 from HP to see what I thought, here's my takeaways in examining the HP Data Vault X310.

One of the key problems I see in many small business settings is a failure to back up important data. If you walk into any small business with less than ten employees, there is a better than 80% chance nothing is being backed up. Companies of this size also frequently lack an IT specialist who can make a case for why backing up is important, making it an even harder problem to solve. The HP Data Vault X310 is aimed squarely at this market.

The entry point for purchasing an X310 is $524. With this you get what's basically a computer running Windows Home Server, with an Intel Atom processor inside and 1TB of base storage. You can easily expand the storage in the unit by adding off-the-shelf hard drives.

As with the previous versions of the Data Vault line, getting started backing up files is fairly easy. You simply connect the Data Vault to your network using Ethernet (you could probably enable wireless, but I wouldn't recommend it for backups), install some client software on each machine you want to back up, and you're ready to go. HP includes software for adding both Windows and Mac computers to the pool of backups.

Of all the features a backup system requires, the most important is the ability to recover lost data. Data Vault handles data recovery like a champ. More importantly, it handles data recovery even if you aren't in the office. A scenario I've personally experienced is being on the road and having a hard drive fail. Everything was backed up before I left, so I wasn't worried about losing data, but the challenge became getting the data back. Data Vault solves that problem with a Web interface that allows you to do a recovery of your data from pretty much anywhere you can get a fast Internet connection.

There are a couple of other handy features integrated into the software beyond just data backup. For instance, there's a Tivo add-in which will automatically copy Tivo recordings to the Data Vault. Another handy feature is the Easy USB Transfer. This allows you to connect a USB drive and transfer directly from the drive to the Data Vault.

The major differences between this X310 model and the X510 I reviewed previously are a much less robust processor and the lack of media sharing features which made the Data Vault virtually the same as a MediaSmart server. These two components help keep the price down, making this a sensible and affordable solution for managing backups in a small office environment. Similar to my previous recommendation for the Data Vault X510, if you need a reliable backup solution, any of the Data Vault line of products makes an excellent choice. If you need a print server, or user management in a small networking environment, Windows Small Business Server running on a dedicated computer would be a more sensible choice.

Compare Features on the HP StorageWorks Data Vault line of products.