Hardware

iBootBar lets you reboot devices remotely

Despite sounding like an iPod accessory that you might wear on your foot, the iBootBar from Dataprobe is a serious piece of hardware geared toward IT professionals. So why am I talking about it? Because after using it for the past two weeks, I think it has uses for those of us with home networks and/or home servers as well.

The iBootBar looks like your basic rack-mountable power strip.

iBootBar front

It features 8 outlets on the back as well as serial port, modem port and Ethernet port. See more on its specs here.

iBootBar back

However, what's cool about the iBootBar is that once you get your equipment connected, you will be able to power devices on and off remotely using the iBootBar's Web interface or via Telnet.

iBootBar remote

The web interface for the iBootBar.

For the purposes of my testing, I connected my cable modem, an 8-port Linksys Ethernet switch, a Linksys WRT54G router and my Windows Home Server box.

I often have problems with my flaky cable modem. Because I have all of my structured wiring and network hardware in the basement, this means trips downstairs to cycle the power. Not a huge deal, but it can be a pain when you're using a PC on the second floor, then you have to run down to the basement to cycle the power on the modem and the router and then have to run back up to the second floor to see if it fixed the problem.

With the iBootbar, I can open the Web interface and cycle the power for any one (or all) of the devices. The Web interface allows you to set the timing of the power cycle as well. So you can insert a delay between cycling up your cable modem and your router.

Of course, the iBootBar lets you perform these same tasks over the Web when you're not on your LAN, too. Very cool.

In my testing, the unit worked exactly as advertised. I was able to cycle power to individual outlets or set up groups of outlets that could be cycled together.

One minor issue I ran into was during the initial setup. My home network uses IP addresses in the 192.168.1.x range. The iBootBar is setup to use an IP address in the 192.168.0.x range. So in order to get the iBootBar configured, I needed to switch my router's IP address to 192.168.0.1 and then Telnet to the iBootBar. Once connected, I was able to configure the iBootBar's IP address to one that matched my original network settings.

In addition to allowing remote management, the iBootBar also monitors the current draw from its outlets and will send you alerts if power usage is too high or too low. This could be handy in letting you know that a device has failed (indicated by the power draw dropping in the unit).

So while this unit is geared to IT pros, I think it also offers benefits to anyone who has a more complex-than-normal home network set up. The biggest drawback for the home user (and it is a big drawback) is the price which ranges from $485 to $745.

Dataprobe has a live demo of the remote tools on their Web site. You can cycle the power on their demo unit and see the results via a Web cam.

So what do you think of adding high-end items like the iBootBar to a home network? Overkill? What if the price was lower? Post a comment and let us know.

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