Overland Storage Snap Server XSR 40 Review

Overland Storage Snap Server XSR 40 front view

The Snap Server NAS appliances have a remarkable track record going back over 17 years making them one of the longest running families of storage products. Acquired by Overland Storage in 2008, the family now only consists of three products and we review the Snap Server XSR 40 1U rack appliance.

It holds the middle ground of the range and targets SMBs, workgroups and remote offices that want business-focused storage features. It combines these with some interesting disaster recovery tools and looks a good choice if big expansion is important.

The XSR 40 supports up to three 12-bay SnapExpansion XSR disk shelves allowing total raw capacity to be boosted to a healthy 240TB. Costing around $3,000 each, the disk shelves are pricey and you’ll need to factor in the cost of Overland’s SAS expansion card which fits in the appliance’s single PCI-Express slot.

Overland Storage Snap Server XSR 40 rear view

You can buy prepopulated appliances or diskless models but for the latter, the drives must be purchased from Overland Storage. We were supplied with the entry-level 4TB model which comes with the four carriers loaded with 1TB Enterprise SATA drives.

Hardware and performance

Considering the price, the XSR 40 doesn’t impress in the hardware department as it sports an elderly 1.8GHz dual-core Atom D525 CPU. This is teamed up with 4GB of DDR3 memory which can’t be expanded as this is the maximum supported by the Atom CPU.

We found this partnership delivers an uninspiring performance and will struggle under pressure. With a NAS share mapped to an HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack server running Windows Server 2012 R2, we recorded Iometer read and write rates of 113MB/sec and 110MB/sec.

Copying a 25GB test file between the server and share delivered read and write speeds of 112MB/sec and 85MB/sec. Our backup test proved challenging as copying a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files to the appliance delivered an average of only 56MB/sec.

IP SANs didn’t fare any better with a 500GB target returning Iometer read and write rates of 112MB/sec and 85MB/sec. We then created a dual Gigabit MPIO link and saw read and write speeds only increase to 166MB/sec and 140MB/sec.

Installation and DynamicRAID

Deployment doesn’t take long as after loading the drive carriers, we fired up the appliance and waited 10 minutes while it initialized itself. The web browser interface kicks off with a wizard which helps secure administrative access and configure features such as the network ports and storage.

Overland's Dynamic RAID

During deployment you can choose from flexible DynamicRAID arrays or traditional arrays

All Snap Server appliances run Overland’s GuardianOS software which offers the DynamicRAID feature. This allows drives of different sizes to be mixed and matched together without taking a hit on capacity and makes it easy to expand storage by swapping drives out for larger ones.

DynamicRAID supports single and dual-drive redundant arrays and a neat feature is you can swap between them as required. The XSR 40 also supports traditional RAID0, 1, 10, 5 and 6 arrays and you’ll need to choose these if you want features such as global hot-spares.

We found the web interface simple enough to use as it provided easy access to all storage features. It does look very dated when stacked up against Qnap’s QTS and Synology’s DSM but we could keep a close eye on our storage pools, swiftly create new volumes and dish out network shares as required.

RDX QuikStor support

XSR 40 supports external RDX QuikStor USB 3 drives

The XSR 40 supports external RDX QuikStor USB 3 drives for that all-essential off-site storage

When Overland acquired Tandberg Data in 2013 it got its hands on the popular RDX QuikStor removable cartridge technology. Support for these has been integrated into GuardianOS so you can plug in an external drive to the appliance’s USB 3 ports and use it to transfer data from one appliance to another or copy it for off-site storage.

We had no problem using an external RDX drive as it appeared in the web interface as soon as we plugged it in. After loading a cartridge, we could format it and use the RDX two-way copy feature.

On selection, it loads a window with file and folder listings of the appliance and RDX cartridge allowing us to copy data in either direction. It’s easy to use but not particularly fast as securing our 22.4GB backup test folder to an RDX cartridge averaged a pedestrian 24MB/sec.

PROS:
  • GuardianOS
  • DynamicRAID
  • External RDX drive support
  • Snap EDR data protection

CONS:
  • Weak hardware specification
  • Performs poorly under load
  • Comparatively expensive

Snapshots and Snap EDR

The XSR 40 scores well for data protection features. Storage pool snapshots can be used for point-in-time backups and run on-demand or scheduled at regular hourly, daily, weekly or monthly intervals.

There’s just one glitch as snapshot rollback for entire volumes can only be performed on traditional RAID arrays and not on DynamicRAID ones. However, what we could do was make the snapshots of our NAS shares available for drag and drop file recovery using Windows Explorer.

SNAP EDR and Snapshots

Snap EDR and snapshots deliver some very good data protection and disaster recovery features

The Snap EDR app is a winner as this provides extensive backup, remote replication and disaster recovery services. The management console can be run on the appliance or another system and agents are provided for remote Snap Servers plus Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

We could run jobs that allowed appliances in remote locations to have selected shares synchronized with other systems. Files could be distributed from one source to multiple locations, aggregated from multiple appliances to a single location and replicated between one source and one target.

Other apps are thin on the ground as the only other one provided is BitTorrent Sync. This allows you to create a private cloud on the appliance and sync data with desktops and mobiles running the BitTorrent Windows and iOS apps.

Conclusion

The longevity of the Snap Servers can be attributed to their sharp focus on business use and the excellent Snap EDR features. Our main concerns are the modest hardware specification doesn’t justify the price and it will struggle to cope with demanding workloads.

7.2 Total Score
Sharp Focus on Business

The longevity of the Snap Servers can be attributed to their sharp focus on business use and the excellent Snap EDR features. Our main concerns are the modest hardware specification doesn’t justify the price and it will struggle to cope with demanding workloads.

Features
6.5
Features
8
Build Quality
7.5
Usability
8
Value
6
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