Here’s our shared storage review of the Small Tree Titanium Z5 portable system. We are not quick to review products– too often, product reviews are written right after receiving the product new and before there’s been time to work through bugs and get the product up and running. So we are writing this review of the Titanium Z5 (TZ5) after we dragged the box through a heavy duty 8 day, on-location conference where we had four computers plugged in. An important note– looks like Small Tree has renamed this product to ZenStor. But I’m not sure at time of this review.
We are a video production company located in Dallas and Fort Worth. We have clients who want us on site to video capture their events– conferences and seminars in many different cities. Often, we need to edit onsite and deliver videos throughout the conference. One client has an annual event that we do with a crew of 8– with three dedicated editors and graphic people. In previous years, we all worked on individual harddrives, constantly swapping. That wouldn’t do any more. Especially in light of the fast turnarounds we needed to do.
The Shared Storage Search
I looked around at several companies. At first, my idea was to take some existing large drives (I have several Promise Pegasus Raid arrays), and just do a ad hoc network. But I am not a networking IT guy and with one of my editors bringing a PC to the party, I knew things could get hairy. I searched the internet and found several products, and requested and received bids. The TZ5 from Small Tree came in with the lowest cost, and it was made to be portable– coming inside a box with a handle (as opposed to the rack mounted solutions from others).
The Titanium Z5
What We Bought
With the box, you get several options– first of all how much storage. Small Tree’s storage was significantly cheaper than the other two companies I took bids from. You get five drives and I chose 4TB drives for a total of 20TB. Because I was estimating between 10 and 12TB of data at the biggest conference we shoot, this gave me plenty of room for Raid 5 protocol.
The second choice is the card to add ethernet ports. You get two on the box, and then whatever you add with the one card. I could get 2 more 10 Gigabit ports, for a total of four ports, which covered what I needed. The other ports are 1 gigabit ethernet ports. So 10GB ports versus 1GB ethernet ports for video editing? For our HD shooting (mainly Sony FS7 cameras), I never noticed a speed problem with the 1GB.
My biggest concern going in was how easy it would be to get all the computers into this network in a box. I don’t have a IT person I can lean on and it was going to be us editors connecting it and turning it on. The people at Small Tree made it extremely easy. They scheduled a time after the box arrived for us to do phone support and it was all done in under an hour. Later at the event, we had to get the PC working, but again, less than an hour. So I give Technical Support five stars. We ended up connecting two iMac’s, a MacBookPro (the new one) and a custom built PC running windows.
How the TZ5 Performed
Overall, I was extremely pleased with the performance of the TZ5. We never had lags. We never had drops. I ran the box on a UPS just to make sure. During the eight days, it never failed. And being able to access shared footage was an incredible time saver at the event.
I highly recommend the Small Tree portable shared solution. The price was lower than the competition and because of that I was a little worried. But the TZ5 was an incredible value. I can’t wait for the next event or conference we have to cover.