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Tools is the third major tab on the Media Vault Control Center (Figure 9).

Media Vault Control Center Tools
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Figure 9: Media Vault Control Center Tools

The tools on this tab let you map drive letters to shares on the Media Vault, take you to the main administration web page for the Media Vault and set up your computer for copy your iTunes library to the Media Vault.  You can also check for updates from HP. The Customize HP Media Vault icon takes you to the Media Vault's Web Administration, which I'll cover next.

Web Administration

The Media Vault was designed to be a simple device, and as such, there are relatively few configuration options compared to some of the other NASes on the market.  I’ll touch on each menu item only briefly.

Media Vault Pro home administration page
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Figure 10: Media Vault Pro home administration page

Status – This is the home landing page after you log into the Media Vault’s configuration page (Figure 10).  Here you’ll see the status of the device as well as a pie chart showing free and used space.  The total space includes any external USB drives.

Shared Folders – This menu tab lets you create, edit or delete shared folders.  By default, the five folders created by the system are public and cannot be deleted.  However, they can be password protected or set to be private shares. 

Shares that you create can be either public or private.  Private folders require a user name/password.  By default, all connected USB drives are public, but you can change them to private, or password protect them.  For each volume, you can enable or disable media streaming.

Users – Here you create users and assign rights (RW, RO or none) to shares that you have created.  You can also designate a user as Photo Webshare manager.  The Media Vault does not support groups, nor is there any Active Directory functionality.

Network – In this tab, your choices are limited to setting the workgroup name, entering static IP address information or enabling the DHCP client.  You can also enable secure HTTP (HTTPS) for remote access.

Disks – On this screen (Figure 11), you can add/remove drives, check disk usage for each drive and view drive status.  (More on this later)

Media Vault Disks page
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Figure 11: Media Vault Disks page

System – This menu allows you to change the Media Vault’s name, set the admin password, control the front panel LEDs (On, Off, Dim), set the drive spin down time and set the system time/date.  You can either synchronize it with your browser, or input your favorite NTP time server.

Remote Access – This is where you set up the Media Vault for remote access.  Once enabled, you have secure web access to your private files as well as HP’s photosharing application. 

The Media Vault comes with a subscription to TZO’s dynamic DNS service.  DDNS ensures that your domain name will resolve to the public IP address assigned to you by your ISP that, for most people, changes from time to time.  The supplied domain is gotomyhp.com

I registered a gotomyhp.com name and my public address instantly resolved to that domain name.  The setup was seamless and took only minutes to accomplish. 

In order to have remote access to a Media Vault behind a router, you also need to set the router to forward port 80 (and 443 if you enabled secure HTTP) to the IP address of your Media Vault. You can either do that manually, or, if you have a router with UPnP enabled, let the Media Vault configure your router for you.  As a security measure, I disable UPnP on my router, so I set it up manually.

Backup to USB – previously covered.  However, I should mention that after creating a backup of selected volumes, the disks page showed the correct USB disk usage, but this tab showed the total volume of the USB drive.  Perhaps that’s because each backup reformats the external drive, i.e. this his function doesn’t do incremental backups.  Since the Media Vault ships with NTI’s Shadow, you have much more control using client-based backup than this integrated function.

Multimedia / Remote Access

The Media Vault includes a UPnp AV / DLNA media server as well as an iTunes server.  To test the iTunes server, I set the notebook with my iTunes library to copy its library to the 5150.  I expected the library to appear in iTunes shortly after the file copy completed, but it didn’t. 

HP advised me to reset the media server (system tab) and that solved the problem.  After that, the Media Vault appeared in both PC and Mac versions of iTunes on my various test systems.  The server includes a function that is designed to let you aggregate your iTunes content from multiple computers.  However, that utility doesn’t “de-dupe” your library.

Media Vault Home Page

Figure 12: Media Vault Home Page

Figure 12 shows the landing page when you access the Media Vault's IP address– either remotely or locally. The Media Vault includes a Photo Webshare application, which, as an avid photographer, I was looking forward to using.  After all, I have close to 30,000 images stored on my server. However, I was disappointed with the feature. 

In order to upload photos into Webshare, you must use a browser. If you use IE, there’s an active X control that will let you upload multiple picture. But if you’re using Firefox, you’ll upload them one at a time! 

Note that there is a public \\photos share that is created by default, but it doesn't appear to be where the Photo Webshare files live. When I mounted that share, after having uploaded numerous photos, it was completely empty. I also copied a folder with jpeg files to the \\photos share and then logged into Photo Webshare. No album was there!

After the tedious upload process, the Media Vault processes the images and creates thumbnails.  However, I found that if I uploaded more than about a dozen images at a time, my album would disappear.  HP is looking into my problem. 

By contrast, I have found that Synology NASes, such as the DS207 (reviewed), have a much simpler solution to photo sharing.  You merely copy files/folders into the pre-defined share named “Photo” and the Synology NAS creates the thumbnails – uploading through a browser is unnecessary.

Moving on, clicking on Browse Files takes you to another login screen.  You must log in as a registered user – there is no guess access.  Once you’ve logged in, you have access only to private folders that you have rights to (Figure 13).  You can’t access any of the public folders, which, according to HP, was a design decision. 

Remote File Browser
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Figure 13: Remote File Browser

Nor is there way to make data in public folders accessible remotely -  at least not through the HP Management utilities -  unless you change the share to a private share.

With all of this focus on security, you would think that HP would tightly lock down the Media Vault. But HP has left an SSH service running. All you need to do is to login via SSH using the administrator username and password that you set up for normal admin access and you have root access! There are several sites that will help you customize your Media Vault including www.k0lee.com/HPMediavault and www.myhomeserver.com.

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