Western Digital Make Backup Devices?

Western Digital (WD) is well known for it’s hard drives. They’re one of the few remaining manufacturers and have a reasonable reputation in this market. They’ve also made great media players which again have a good reputation of ‘just working’. Being a storage company though, it makes sense that they make backup devices too, namely the Arkeia range of WD products. I’ve had a chance to check out theWD Arkeia DA2300 that they sent out to me, and it’s turning out to be a decent piece of kit.

Hardware – The Box
Physically, the WD Arkeia DA2300 is a modern and functional looking cube (almost a cube at least, it’s slightly longer). It measures roughly 16cm H  x 21 W x 22cm L which seems pretty small for what it’s packing.

arkeia2 The LCD screen shows the device name and IP address, and below it has a lockable front door which conceals the four hot swappable drive bays. One of the nice things about this is that there’s no screws required which some other 4 bay devices have, you just slide in a raw SATA drive. Looking at the back of the device, there’s an abundance of ports. 6 USB ports, with 4 being USB3 should cover any USB connectivity requirements. Below the USB ports are two gigabit NICs and a 3rd port which you can ignore… it’s not functional, and doesn’t appear in any spec sheets. There’s also a single VGA port, and two power holes. Two power packs are provided with the unit, so if one either fails or accidently gets unplugged, the device itself continues to stay up. As you can see from the photo, I just plugged one in and it worked perfectly fine:arkeiaSpecifications – What’s Inside?

Firstly, there’s two options depending on your requirements. You can either go the 2 x 4TB size option (which has 16GB RAM), or the 4 x 4TB option (which has a bit extra RAM, 24GB). The disks are configured in RAID 1, so you’ll either get 4TB or 8TB of usable space with redundant mirrored disks. The disks themselves are WD SEs which are Western Digital’s Datacenter flavour of spinning disks which are the most reliable of the WD series. Usable space is a different story though, due to the deduplication technology used in the software, WD claim you’ll be able to store 5x the amount of usable space. There’s also a 128gb SSD inside which is used for caching to speed up common data reads and writes. All of this is powered by an impressive Intel Xeon E3-1265Lv2 2.5ghz Quad Core CPU.

Software

As with most devices these days, it’s a web driven interface. After logging in, you’re greeted with a dashboard that does quite a decent job of showing you what’s going on with the device. It’s a reasonably clean interface to navigate, but will probably take a bit of clicking around to find all the configuration and options you need (As you can see, I had a failed job and a successful job):

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Clients

For the Arkeia to do it’s job, the clients it will connect to need the Arkiea Agent installed. This lets the WD Arkeia Applicance connect to the client and backup the relevant data. The client itself is easy to install, and packages are available for a large amount of operating systems including many flavours of Windows, Linux and OS X. The client itself seems very lightweight, and I didn’t have any issues with it running.

Backup Options

The options available are one of the biggest selling points of this device. You could buy a cheap NAS with the same amount of disks for a lot less, but the Arkeia’s software lets you back up a lot of different types of data. There’s all the common file level backups, but there’s also VM support for both VMWare and Hyper-V. Being able to back up VMs to a central point easily is a huge value-add in my opinion. There’s also support for Domino and Exchange database backups (not mailbox level), SQL Server/MySQL, VSS snapshots and others. Bare Metal Recovery is also available, where you can restore by creating an ISO and booting off of it from the affected server to start the restoration process.

Also supported are both Cloud backups to CloudStorage, as well as Tape (based on providing your own tape drive) which again gives users of the device enough choice on where they want to keep their data long term. There’s also the ability to seed to another WD Arkeia device which may be suitable if you have multiple sites.

Bells and Whistles

Apart from the above features, there’s also a few other nice features the WD Arkeia 2300 has. Inbuilt reports can be generated and scheduled on backups, restores, disk and tape replication, tape drives etc giving you visibility on how your backups went, without needing to log on to the device daily and checking. The data deduplication also gives you storage saving benefits of being able to back up a lot more data than the raw 4tb available.

Conclusions

The WD Arkeia DA2300 is aimed at small to medium businesses who have more complicated backup requirements than just a file share, but also don’t have a highly complex environment. Having this device set up once and making sure backup reports are OK is all you need to have a reliable backup system that supports both full backups and incremental, and is easy enough to use without needing to study or sit a course like more sophisticated and complicated backup solutions may require. WD have provided sufficient redundancy options in the device too, which some lower end devices ignore. There are other flavors in the Arkeia range depending on your storage and performance requirements too. The device can be purchased from many resellers, or online stores such as Amazon

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