10 Cheap Small Business Storage Boxes

by Drew Robb

Suffering from data overflow? We give a brief overview of 10 spacious yet affordable small business storage solutions to help you tame that ever-growing glut of information.

Benjamin Franklin, who famously said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," isn't normally associated with small business storage. But if old Ben were around today, he might add data growth to that list.

According to a recent survey by analyst firm Gartner, 47 percent of companies ranked data growth in their top three challenges. And that is surely the case for nearly all small businesses. Gone are the days when a few PCs or a handful of servers were enough. These machines typically fill up fast and when they do, performance takes a horrible turn for the worst.  So what can you do about it?

While there are many expensive and highly sophisticated options, this article focuses on really cheap solutions, most of them less than a thousand dollars. They may not be perfect for all SMBs, especially those with well-manned IT departments. But they will certainly ease the burden in many firms. 

For small business with more complex data storage needs and a mature IT setup, we've included a couple of higher-end (and higher-priced) boxes. They may not seem "affordable" compared to other options listed in this article, but if your business requires more sophisticated features, these options deliver at a very reasonable price.

Dell PowerVault RD 100; small business storage
The Dell PowerVault RD 100.
(Click for larger image)

10 Affordable Small Business Storage Options

1. Dell PowerVault RD 100

According to Michael Shannon, solutions advisor for small and medium business at Dell, the PowerVault RD1000 has a starting price of just $368. You can use it to store a lot of office files, or perhaps more wisely, to retain a large number of company backups.

“Sit includes software for easy scheduled backups and continuous data protection,” said Shannon.  “You can have disks inside ranging from 160 gigabytes (GB) to 1 terabyte (TB) each depending on your needs.”

As this article was being written, Dell had the RD 100 on special at a starting rate of $229 for 160 GB. If you load it up with 3 disks of 1 TB each, the price goes up to $1,115.  That price, however, does not include an operating system.

2. Synology DiskStation DS1511+

Synology’s DiskStation DS1511+ has a list price of around $900, and it does a lot more than store files. As well as backup and recovery, it can be used as an email server, surveillance system, or as a Web or print server. If you pay more for extra disks or extra Synology boxes, you can scale it up to 45 TB. This one, though, is probably not right for a company without IT experience readily available, because it provides a lot more features than simpler and cheaper boxes.

3. Gridstore NASg 2.0

Gridstore NASg 2.0 is a brand new release that provides a 1TB for $499 and 2TB for $599, all in a tiny form factor that's no bigger than a desktop phone.

“Small businesses are grappling with enormous storage growth in the form of presentations, spreadsheets, Word documents, JPEG images and video content,” said Kelly Murphy, Gridstore's CEO. “Most SMBs run on standalone storage that represents a single point of failure. If the storage system stops -- their business stops.”

The new Gridstone system features 1GB of RAM, and includes a basic operating system.

4. Iomega eGo

Iomega’s eGo packs 1.5 TB into a tiny space for $229 (you can buy versions as large as 2 TB) and it’s portable, too. The 5- x 4- by 1-inch drives weigh less than a pound and work very well for people on the go who need their files close at hand. It is fast, rugged and requires no external power supply. Built-in encryption, antivirus and backup are thrown in for free.

5. HP ProLiant MicroServer

The HP ProLiant MicroServer is a general purpose server that HP recommends for small businesses with less than 10 desktops/laptops. For companies with multiple versions of files floating around various PCs, the Microserver offers a way to centralize storage throughout the office. Pricing starts at $329, but you end up paying $729 for 250 GB and $1,288 for 2 TB once you add in the various items necessary to make it function.

5 More Cheap Small Business Storage Boxes

6. Plextor PX-NAS4

The Plextor PX-NAS4 supports up to 8 TB of data with a starting price of $400. It has plenty of flexibility, too, through a variety of different kinds of ports. In addition, it comes with encryption and backup. It's also Energy Star compliant, which means low energy consumption (58 Watts), and that translates into lower running costs.

"With today's increasing amount of digital data, businesses need to save such data in a secure and accessible area," said Clifford Sun, a marketing manager for Plextor, "We offer reliable, secure and convenient storage solution for small and medium businesses."

7. WD ShareSpace NAS

Western Digital's WD ShareSpace NAS is simple to use, yet it offers plenty of management features for companies that want to move beyond basic file saving actions. It comes in 2, 4 and 8 TB capacities, which cost $700, $800 and $1,600 respectively.

8. Huawei Symantec Oceanspace S2600

This is an interesting one -- an alliance between the security and storage software firm Symantec and a Chinese hardware vendor named Huawei.

For a year now, there have been rumors about inexpensive hardware about to come from China that will undercut many established vendors in fields such as storage, servers and networking. This one could be the vanguard.

The Oceanspace S2600 costs $8,000 for 8 TB and is expandable up to 96 disks. Watch for more SMB gear to come from this company.

Iomega eGo mobile drives; small business storage
Iomega eGo mobile drives.
(Click for larger image)

9. StorSimple

If your company needs more sophisticated small business storage, take a look at the products of StorSimple. The StorSimple 5000 hybrid cloud appliance uses solid state storage to speed up response times, deduplication to reduce disk consumption, and it has an interface to manage the connection to online storage providers such as Amazon, AT&T and Zetta.

While key data is held close at hand in the StorSimple 5000, the rest of the data -- such as company archives -- can be sent offsite to those providers.

According to Ian Howells, chief marketing officer of StorSimple, the starting price for this unit is $15,000. “The StorSimple 5000 helps SMBs eliminate the nightmare of having to archive aging data to tape,” said Howells. 

10. Windows Storage Server

Many of the boxes listed above either don’t come with an operating system or provide only a basic one. This applies in particular to some of the cheaper servers mentioned above. Moosa Matariyeh, a CDW solutions architect, recommends loading Windows Storage Server rather than a traditional operating system.

“To reduce the cost of ongoing storage growth, use a Windows-based storage server instead of a standard Windows server acting as a file server,” he said. “You can turn on Single Instance Storage to eliminate multiple copies of the same file, which can reduce the overall storage space needed.” 

One license costs $722.99, and you can load it onto many of the servers discussed in this article. “One of the most common ways to reduce storage growth needs is to reduce duplicate files, which is one of the standard functions of this software,” said Matariyeh. “But as a storage environment grows past a few hundred file users, this solution may no longer be suitable.”

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 Thursday Apr 21st 2011
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