Mirra Mirra in the Closet

Storage
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THE PERFORMANCE

Usage

Installing the Seagate Mirra on our test computer was quick and easy. After installation, the multi-step registration process was a breeze. This process mainly asked for optional information, such as registering the Mirra online, setting an optional administrator password, and most importantly creating our web account. Setting up the web account is simple; the only information required is name, email address and password.

The setup prompted for backup folders and displayed three common options. The test computer used had a hard drive with multiple partitions. Mirra was not able to backup an entire partition due to the inclusion of system folders held on it. This is particularly frustrating if your intent is to create an entire copy of your hard drive, Windows and all, as Mirra simply will not do it. In our case the drive we intended to backup was used as the "My Documents" folder; to back up the folders within, we had to manually add each one, a major inconvenience.

Synchronization of multiple computers and web access turned out to be very good features and are great selling points for the device. Web access can be enabled by default for all backups or on an individual basis. This has to be one of the easiest methods to provide remote file access. The interface is responsive and transfer speeds were acceptable (~50-60KB/s).

File Transfers

The Mirra network interface was fairly stable. The software was able to quickly detect the Mirra on the network and connect to it. With a 100Mbit/s wired LAN connection transfers were relatively quick. Smaller transfer speeds were harder to obtain due to the overhead of modifying each file and having the Mirra service recognize the change. Large file transfers were easier and a 2GB video file was used to perform these tests.


Network usage during a 2 GB file transfer on an all wired network.

NOISE & POWER

Acoustically the Mirra leaves a lot to be desired. The power supply has a high pitch signature that was audible from anywhere in the room. The power supply frequently ramped up and down, sometimes with no apparent load. This implies thermal cycling, which should have been avoidable given the low power requirements of the Mirra's hardware. The Mirra was turned off numerous times due to the noise over the two week period. Power consumption for the device was reasonably low, with the exception being a peak during startup. The Mirra could have been powered by a much quieter power supply or even a PicoPSU.

Seagate Mirra M-250: Noise & Power
Activity
SPL
Power Consumption
Idle
30 dBA@1m
33W
Heavy Seek
33 dBA@1m
35-39W

There are two distinct noise signatures produced by the Mirra's hard drive. The sound created when transferring large file transfers was recorded and is linked below. However, there is also a distinctly different sound produced when indexing files. This sound has a higher pitch and is much more unpleasant. This sound was also occasionally heard at unexpected times such as when the computer was idle or after the computer had been shutdown.

As mentioned before, when the Mirra reconnects, it will scan all folders for changes. Hard drive seek noise is definitely a problem, from both the host computer and the Mirra (although most SPCR readers' own hard drives will be much quieter). There were times when the computer was idle and Mirra would start to scan all folders as well. For SPCR readers' ears, this device is not suitable for any living space. It would be best kept somewhere out of hearing range, perhaps a closet or unused area.

MP3 Sound Recordings of the Seagate Mirra M-250

Seagate Mirra M-250 - Idle and Seek @ 1ft

Seagate Mirra M-250 - Idle and Seek @ 1m

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system and are intended to represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording. More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

CONCLUSION

The Mirra has some impressive features and is a powerful tool to backup important files. It is a very good set-it-and-forget-it automatic backup solution for most Windows users. Apparently, the product is quite popular with small businesses, which often don't have extensive IT resources or expertise. The software provided seems stable, and the web access feature is great.

There are oddities, however. One is the absence of any redundancy for the single hard drive. Another is the inability to be used for shared file storage as a network attached storage, a function which we originally assumed was part and parcel of the Mirra. The mini-ITX board and Linux foundation could easily allow Mirra to be considerably more multi-functional. Perhaps the design goal was to really keep it as simple as possible.

Unfortunately, acoustics don't seem to have been a consideration when Seagate designed the Mirra. Plainly speaking, it's just too loud in most home environments, and perhaps even in some quiet offices. If you plan to connect the Mirra to your network, make sure that you have a suitable location to keep it out of earshot.

Much thanks to Seagate for the Mirra review sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
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Remote Storage with the Newisys NA-1400 NAS Appliance
External Seagate Drives: A Portable 2.5" and a Pocket Drive

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