Small Business Server Review: LDA-Mini - Page 2

By Drew Robb
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LDA-Mini Storage Server

The LDA-mini is a small business server slightly larger than a standard hard drive. It weighs about a pound and takes up about the same amount of space as a hardcover book, storing approximately 20 TBs of data backups. Of course, that's a bit of virtual math at work. Lortu estimates that 20TB is how much data you would have to store if you didn’t use its deduplication technology.

In actuality, the box can hold 430 GB of data. Inside, its total capacity is split into three areas: the operating system and replication files take up 130 GB. The device keeps 80 GB available for daily backups. That leaves the remaining 430 GB for deduplicated data.

Restoring data with the LDA-mini is easy compared to restoring from tape. No more rummaging through a pile of old backup tapes to find the right file. And even when you find the tape, it can take hours to restore the data to the server. With the Lortu backup appliance sitting on premise, restores take moments.

Another major feature is Lortu's remote backup service. SMBs can back up as much as 80 GB of data daily over a conventional Internet connection. Retention policies can be set so you can decide which files to retain and for how long. In some industries, legal requirements set retention periods, while in others customer data should be retained for the lifetime of the customer relationship. 

When the LDA-Mini reaches the limit of its capacity, it automatically eliminates the older backups to leave space for new backups. That’s why the retention policies are so important. You don’t want to be surprised to learn that your financials for the first six months of the year are no longer available.

Companies that are likely to fill up the device fairly rapidly would be wise to make a copy every few months or every month -- just as an added safeguard. In those situations, the Lortu replication service might be best. Alternatively, Lortu also offers several other models within the LDA model that provide a lot more storage capacity.

LDA-Mini Server in Action

Initially, I set up the LDA-Mini on my desk and tried to connect it to my laptop. That didn’t work as my wireless network has a router upstairs, and that’s where the Lortu box had to be located. You plug in the appliance and connect it to the router using a standard Ethernet cable. That took moments. (Note: Lortu plans to have wireless capabilities built into a future version of LDA-Mini. Initial attempts to conduct backups wirelessly proved difficult. These problems were resolved by using a wired connection).

Next, I installed the software on my laptop, which was also quick and easy -- the box came with a USB drive that contains the Quick-Install Guide and the software. A wizard guided me through how to add my PC -- and the other computers in the office -- to the list of those to be backed up.

It was straightforward enough to work out a daily backup schedule and to choose which files to exclude from the backup. You can choose to backup everything, but that might rapidly fill up the appliance. I decided to backup only my business files -- not Windows software and business applications

Why? Data is the important thing, not the device. If the laptop fries, I’ll either get a new one and reinstall everything, or I'll get it fixed and dig out my software CDs to reinstall. By excluding all the system files and software apps from the backup list, I used only 7 GBs of storage space. So it could last me a long time in the office.

Lortu makes it clear that the first backup can take a while as all data has to be backed up. I didn’t notice how long it took, as I was out of the house at the time. But when I was there, it certainly didn’t tie up the system and slow it down noticeably.

In each of the following days, a backup took place at the scheduled time. This increased the amount of data stored by a nominal amount. User involvement with deduplication was precisely zero. The process is done automatically inside the LDA-Mini.

I tested how to restore one specific file. It took me a minute to find it on the screen and another few seconds before it was back on my laptop and available to read. That’s a good feature to have the next time the boss loses the document containing his speech the night before he’s due to fly off to the event.

The LDA-Mini costs $950. The Lortu remote backup service for added data security via external storage costs $1,300 per year.

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow's Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.

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This article was originally published on August 04, 2011
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