How to configure UEFI on the Vault

UEFI Overview

UEFI is an acronym for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. It is a specification that defines a new model for the interface between operating systems (OS) and platform firmware. It is a replacement for legacy BIOS. More information may be found on the UEFI Forum website at: https://uefi.org/

Recent updates to some OS software have introduced incompatibility between the default installation of the OS with some of the Vault hardware platforms. Setting the BIOS mode on the Vault to UEFI eliminates some of these issues. The article below will detail how to set the BIOS mode to UEFI.

Changing BIOS mode to UEFI

  • Verify that the Vault is powered down
  • Verify that the monitor is connected
  • Verify that the USB keyboard is connected
  • While powering up the Vault, press “DEL” key
  • Verify that the system boots into the BIOS
BIOS Main Screen
  • Select the “Advanced” tab
BIOS Advanced Tab
  • Select “CSM Configuration”
CSM Screen
  • Select “Boot option filter”
Boot Option Filter Menu
  • Verify the Boot option filter menu is displayed
  • Select “UEFI only”
  • Press Return(Enter)
  • Press “F4” to save and exit the BIOS
  • Power off the Vault

At this point UEFI mode is enabled. See the specific installation guide for the desired OS.

If you experience any issues, please feel free to reach out to: support@protectli.com.

How to Customize the Boot Splash Screen

Overview

The “Splash Screen” is the graphical image or logo that is briefly displayed at boot up of the system. The splash screen for the Vault can be customized to enhance the brand awareness of the product and/or solution. Protectli provides a Windows tool that can be used to change the BIOS and customize the splash screen.

Splash Screen File

The splash screen file is a “bitmap” file with an extension of “.bmp” in Windows. The bitmap file used for the splash screen must have maximum dimensions of 800 x 600 and be less than 1.4 MB. If there is already a logo file in “.jpg” or “.png” format, that file can be converted to a bitmap file using the Windows Paint program or other tools.

Verify the Desired Splash Screen File

  • On Windows, right click the desired file
  • Select Properties
  • Verify “Type of File” is BMP file
  • Select the Details tab
  • Verify the Dimensions are 800 x 600 or less
  • Verify the Size is 1.4 MB or less

Convert the Desired Splash Screen File

If the desired file is in JPG or PNG format, it can be converted to Bitmap using the Windows Paint program. This procedure is only necessary if the desired file is not already in Bitmap format.

  • On Windows, right click the desired file
  • Select Edit
  • Verify the Paint program starts and the graphical image is displayed
  • Select File->Save As->Save as type:
  • Verify the dropdown menu that contains these bitmap options is displayed
    • Monochrome Bitmap
    • 16 Color Bitmap
    • 24 Color Bitmap
    • 24-bit Bitmap
  • Select the desired bitmap format
  • Note that the formats listed in the dropdown are in increasing order of quality and increasing order of size
  • Select Save
  • Right click on the newly created bitmap and verify that it is less than 1.4 MB
  • If greater than 1.4 MB, repeat this procedure with a lesser quality bitmap format

Download the BIOS

The BIOS folder for each specific model of the Vault is available at this link. Be very sure when downloading and installing the BIOS that it is the correct BIOS for the specific Vault. Installing incorrect BIOS may result in an inoperable system.

  • Download the BIOS zip file for the model of the Vault from the link above
  • Verify the BIOS zip file is downloaded
  • Unzip the file and verify the BIOS folder is downloaded

Download the BIOS Logo Tool

There are two BIOS logo tools. One is for the FW1, FW2, and FW4 models of the Vault. The other is for the FW6 models of the Vault. The FW1, FW2, and FW4 tool is at this link. The FW6 tool is at this link.

  • Download the BIOS logo tool zip file for the model of the Vault from the link above
  • Verify the proper BIOS logo tool zip file is downloaded
  • Unzip the BIOS logo tool

Use the BIOS Logo Tool to Change the Splash Screen

  • Double click on the BIOS Logo executable file
  • Verify the “Change Logo” application appears on the screen

Change Logo Application

  • Select the “Load Image” button

Load Image Button

  • Verify navigator window is displayed

Navigator Window

  • Verify/Select “Files of type:” All Files
  • Navigate to the BIOS folder
  • Select the .bin file
  • Select “Open”

.bin File

  • Verify the .bin file is displayed in the proper folder in the “Aptio Image” Box

Aptio Image Box

  • Select Browse Button

Browse to find Bitmap File

  • Verify the navigator window is displayed
  • Select files of type “BMP Files (*bmp)
  • Navigate to the desired bitmap file
  • Select the .bmp file
  • Select Open
  • Verify the desired bitmap file is displayed in the “Select BMP file” box

Select BMP File

  • Select the Replace Logo button

Replace Logo

  • Verify the “Save Image As” button is now not grayed out

Save Image As Button

  • Select the “Save Image As” button
  • Verify the navigator window is displayed
  • Navigate to the BIOS folder, this is where the new BIOS file will be placed
  • Manually enter the name of the original .bin file, note that it must be exactly the same name

BIN File

  • Select Save button
  • Verify the Success message is displayed in the lower left of the tool

Success Message

Create Bootable USB Drive and Install New BIOS

Now that the new bitmap file has been created, the BIOS folder must be transferred to a USB drive and then used to update the BIOS on the Vault. Follow the instructions at this link to create a bootable USB drive, transfer the new BIOS folder to the USB drive, and install the new BIOS on the Vault.

  • Verify the splash screen has the new logo or image during initial boot
  • Verify the system boots

At this point, the new splash screen should be installed on The Vault.  However, if you experience any issues, please feel free to reach out to us at: support@protectli.com.

 

 

 

Verify Intel Spectre and Meltdown Vulnerabilities

Overview

There are known security vulnerabilities with Intel processors that are named “Spectre” and “Meltdown”. These vulnerabilities are documented at this link. There is a Windows based tool that can analyze the the system to determine if it is vulnerable to Spectre or Meltdown. This document describes how to use that tool to assess the vulnerability of the Vault. Information regarding specific BIOS updates to the different Vault platforms can be found from links on the product pages.

On a Windows computer,

  • Browse to InSpectre homepage at https://www.grc.com/inspectre.htm
  • Scroll down to Download Button and download InSpectre application from this link.
  • Verify that the file/application “InSpectre.exe” is downloaded to the Windows computer
  • Run InSpectre (double-click) and verify the application pops up

InSpectre & Meltdown Vulnerability Status  – Not Protected

  • Verify that both Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilites are protected.

If not, update the Vault to the appropriate BIOS that addresses the vulnerabilities. See the latest BIOS at this link.

  • Update BIOS on the Vault
  • Rerun the InSpectre application
  • Verify vulnerabilities are protected

InSpectre & Meltdown Vulnerability Status  – Protected

At this point the Vault should be protected from the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. However, if there are any issues, feel free to reach out to us at:

support@protectli.com 

FW2B FW4B Series Hardware Overview

As with all Protectli Vault hardware, the FW2B and FW4B series need only RAM (memory) and mSATA (storage) added in order to have a fully functional hardware system. In addition, an optional WiFi module can be installed as well. For more information on HW compatibility, see this link.

The FW2B and FW4B series hardware are slightly different, but the chassis form factor, general board layout, and placement of components is largely the same. The FW2B and FW4B vary mainly in the type of CPU they have and the number of network ports. For a full comparison among different models, please see this page.

The annotated photo below shows the location of the various sockets.  The FW2B is pictured. Note that the memory socket is underneath the mSATA and WiFi sockets.

CPU

The FW2B series uses an Intel J3060 processor and the FW4B series uses an Intel J3160 processor. Both of these CPUs have built in suport for Intel’s AES-NI hardware encryption.

Memory

There is a single SODIMM socket for memory.  Additional information on compatible memory modules can be found in the Hardware Compatibility page.  The maximum supported memory size is 8GB of DDR3L (1.35V).

mSATA

The FW2B, and FW4B series come with a single mSATA socket.  This socket is capable of holding any logical size mSATA.

WiFi

The WiFi module socket is a PCIe form factor socket. The FW2B can accommodate a standard PCIe WiFi module. The FW4B while PCIe in form factor, operates over USB channel communication, limiting functionality as compared to pure PCIe modules.  Protectli sells a compatible WiFi module that is available here.  Instructions for installation of the WiFi module can be found here. The FW2B can also accommodate the Protectli PCIe/USB WiFi module.

Port Connectivity

The ‘Front’ of the FW4B Vault is pictured above.  The FW2 is different, as it only has 2 network ports (WAN and LAN) but an additional 4 USB 2.0 ports.

Power should be supplied by the included power supply, which is rated for 12V at 3.3A.

The Power LED, which lights up green when power is applied, indicates that the Vault has power applied.  It does not indicate the status for the operating system

The Drive Activity LED will blink, according to mSATA drive activity.  Usually, the user will see the most activity as the unit is booting, or if the unit is under heavy load.  For most operating systems, this indicator will not be on and only blink occasionally under most conditions.

The Network ports are each independenly connected to the CPU via a PCIe connection.  A table that shows port numbering can be found below.

Vault ModelPort 6Port 5Port 4Port 3Port 2Port 1
FW1x--OPT2OPT1LANWAN
FW2x----LANWAN
FW4x--OPT2OPT1LANWAN
FW6xOPT4OPT3OPT2OPT1LANWAN
FreeBSD (pfSense) Labeling (in software)em5em4em3em2em1em0
Windows 10 (in software)Ethernet 5Ethernet 4Ethernet 3Ethernet 2EthernetEthernet 1

Data Sheets

The FW2B data sheet can be found at this link. The FW4B data sheet can be found at this link.

BIOS Versions for the Vault

Note: Intel has recently announced a security vulnerability that is described at:

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/security-center/advisory/intel-sa-00233.html 

The FW1, FW2, FW4A and FW6 Vaults may be affected by this vulnerability. The FW2B and FW4B are not affected. Protectli understands the urgency of this issue and we are working with our partners to generate BIOS updates to address the issue. We will post the updated BIOS and/or timelines for updated BIOS on this page shortly.

BIOS

BIOS is the abbreviation for Basic Input Output System. It is a small program that is stored on non-volatile memory that is used to initialize the system hardware during the boot process. BIOS is installed on every system when it ships, but occasionally there are upgrades to the BIOS to address various issues. This page has a table with all of the current versions of BIOS for the Vault. BIOS can be downloaded from this table by clicking on the “Download Link” entry and used to upgrade the BIOS on the Vault.

The currently installed BIOS version can be found on the main BIOS page, as seen in the example screenshot below (circled in red):

BIOS Main Tab

See this link for instructions on how to install BIOS on the Vault.

ModelDownload LinkBIOS IDNotesRelease Date
FW11-190708BTL4A012New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW22-190708BTL4A012New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW2B2B190619BSW4L007New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW4A4A190619E38L4A12New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW4B4B190619BSW4L007New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW6A6-190708KBU6LA09New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW6B6-190708KBU6LA09New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019
FW6C6-190708KBU6LA09New Logo, Enable UEFI and Legacy, Boot Order UEFI before LegacyAugust 1, 2019

Notes

Some older versions of FW1 and FW2 Vaults do not automatically update the new Boot Order with version BTL4A012. If this occurs, follow the steps below to set the Boot Order:

  • Power off the unit
  • Reboot the unit and hit the DEL key to enter BIOS
  • Select the Boot Tab
  • Select “F3” to Load Optimized Defaults
  • Verify the proper Boot order of 1) UEFI mSATA 2) UEFI USB 3) Legacy mSATA 4) Legacy USB
  • Select “F4” to Save and Exit
  • Verify the system boots correctly

Older Versions

ModelDownload LinkBIOS IDNotesRelease Date
FW11-181025BTL4A010Intel Spectre and Meltdown fixesOctober 25, 2018
FW22-180706BTL4A008Intel Spectre and Meltdown fixesJuly 6, 2018
FW2B2B180727BSW4L003 V1.02First Customer ShipmentJuly 27, 2018
FW4A4A180804E38L4A05 V1.03Intel Spectre and Meltdown fixes, COM port fixAugust 4, 2018
FW4B4B180727BSW4L003 V1.02First Customer ShipmentJuly 27, 2018
FW6A6-180614KBU6LA06Intel ME, Spectre and Meltdown fixesJune 14, 2018
FW6B6-180614KBU6LA06Intel ME, Spectre and Meltdown fixesJune 14, 2018
FW6C6-180614KBU6LA06Intel ME, Spectre and Meltdown fixesJune 14, 2018

As always, if there are any questions, feel free to reach out to us at:

support@protectli.com 

How to Install the WiFi Kit into the Vault

Overview

Protectli offers an optional WiFi kit that can be used with the Vault. This article will explain how to install the kit into the Vault and how to configure it with one of the supported applications. The SKU for the WiFi Kit is WAP01K.

NOTE: This wireless card is non-standard, in that while it is the PCIe form factor, the electrical connection is via USB.  This is the only type of card that is compatible with the Vault’s hardware.  This is due to a limited number of PCIe lanes available on the Vault’s CPU. The exception is the FW2B. It has more PCIe lanes available and can accomodate standard PCIe WiFi cards.

Contents

The WiFi Kit contains the following pieces:

  • 1 WiFi Card
  • 1 Extension Plate
  • 2 Screws to connect the Card to the Plate
  • 2 Micro Coax Cables with Nuts and Washers
  • 2 Antennas

See the photo below for the contents

WiFi Kit Contents

WiFi Card Slot

The WiFi Card installs into a PCIe form factor slot in the Vault and is screwed into the existing standoff. The 2 and 4 port Vaults require an extension plate to be connected to the card. The memory for the FW2B and FW4B is below WiFi socket, therefore, memory must be installed before the WiFi card is installed. The 6 port Vault does not require an extension plate, but it is positioned in the chassis underneath the mSATA slot. Therefore, it will need to be inserted before the mSATA. See the photos below for the WiFi card slots.

WiFi Slot, FW1, FW2

WiFi Slot, FW2B, FW4B

WiFi Slot, FW6

Extension Plate Assembly

As mentioned above, the 2 and 4 port Vaults require an extension plate to be connected to the WiFi card for proper installation. The extension plate is attached to the WiFi card using the 2 small screws in the kit. The screws should be assembled from the top side of the WiFi card and screwed into the threaded holes in the extension plate. See the photo below. The WiFi card can now be inserted into the slot and secured by the screw that comes in the standoff.

WiFi Card and Extension Plate

Install the Antennas

The Antenna Connectors are on the other end of the micro coax cable. The Vault has plastic plugs than can be removed to accommodate the antenna connectors. The plugs can be pushed out using a small screw driver. The location of the plugs on the 2 port and 4 port Vaults is on the side of the chassis. Note that the  holes are not completely circular. The top of the hole is flat and the top of the connector is flat so that the connector does not rotate. When inserting the connector into the hole, verify that the flat sides line up.

  • Remove the screw and lock washer from the connector
  • Insert the connector through the hole with the flat side at the top
  • Attach the lock washer and screw to the connector from the outside of the chassis
  • The Micro Coax cables attach to the WiFi card. The circular micro coax connectors can be seen in the previous photo at the top of the card near the screws. The photo below shows the coax cables connected to the WiFi card.
  • Verify there are no sharp bends in the  cable

See the photos below.

Micro Coax Cable Connectors Through Holes in Chassis

Micro Coax Cable Connectors Screwed In

 Connect the Antennas

The antennas screw into the connectors that protrude outside the chassis. The photo below shows both antennas in a vertical position, but depending on the network one could be put in the horizontal position for better reception.

Antennas Installed to Chassis

FW4B with WiFi Kit Installed

6 Port Vault Installation

The 6 port Vault installation is slightly different than the 2 and 4 port versions. The 6 port Vault does not require the extension plate. The antenna connector plugs are on the front and clearly marked with the WiFi symbol. The flat side of the antenna connector hole is on the bottom and the WiFi slot is underneath the mSATA slot. The WiFi card must be installed and the micro coax connected to the WiFi card before the mSATA card is installed. Be sure not to pinch the micro coax cable when installing the mSATA card. The photo below shows the 6 port installation before the mSATA is installed above the WiFi card.

6 port Vault WiFi Installation

 Configure the WiFi Interface as an Access Point with pfSense® CE

Now that physical hardware has been installed, the WiFi interface must be enabled and configured to operate in the application. Different applications and operating systems will require different configuration procedures. The example below uses pfSense® CE version 2.4.2 to configure the WiFi interface as an Access Point for 802.11G.  There is another Knowledge Base article that describes how to install pfSense® CE on the Vault at this link. The information below is specifically to enable the WiFi card and assumes that the user  has already successfully installed pfSense® CE on the Vault.

  • Browse to an Ethernet port on the Vault in order to access the pfSense® CE Dashboard
  • Verify the login page is displayed
  • Login and verify that the dashboard page is displayed
  • Select Interfaces->Interface Assignments
  • Select Wireless
  • Add the WiFi interface
  • Verify it is “run0(1.0)”
  • Set Mode to “Access Point”
  • Add Description (optional, recommended)
  • Save
  • Return to Interfaces->Interface Assignments
  • Add the WiFi Interface “run0_wlan0”
  • Edit the WiFi interface by hovering over the name in the left column then clicking
  • General Configuration
    • Enable interface
    • IPv4 Configuration Type – Static IPv4
  • Static IPv4 Configuration
    • IPv4 Address – Enter the desired IP address for the WiFi network, set the subnet mask
  • Common Wireless Configuration
    • Standard – 802.11g
    • Channel 1
  • Network-Specific Wireless Configuration
    • Mode – Access Point
    • SSID – Set SSID (case sensitive, this is the ID that other clients will use to connect)
  • WPA
    • Enable WPA
    • WPA Pre-Shared Key – Set key (case sensitive, this is the password that other clients will use to connect)
  • Save
  • Apply Changes
  • Verify the changes have been applied successfully.

As with any other interface, when using pfSense® CE, Services and Firewall rules must be configured in order to connect and pass traffic on the interface. For this example, DHCP server will be configured for the WiFi interface and all traffic will be allowed to pass.

  • Go to Services->DHCP Server and select the WiFi interface
  • Enable DHCP server, set the DHCP range and Save
  • Verify the changes have been applied successfully.
  • Go to Firewall->Rules and select the WiFi interface
  • Add a Rule to allow traffic to pass
  • Save and Apply
  • Verify the changes have been applied successfully.
  • Verify that another device can connect to the WiFi network that was just created using the SSID and password for the WiFi network.

More details regarding WiFi configuration for pfSense® CE can be found at this link.

Screen shots for the configuration are shown below.

Add Wireless Interface

 

Set Access Point Mode and Add Description

Enable Wireless Interface and Configure Static IP Address

Configure Wireless Settings

Configure WPA Settings

 Configure the WiFi Interface in Infrastructure Mode with FreeBSD

The previous example with the WiFi interface configured it to be an Access Point. An Access Point acts as a communication hub for multiple clients. This example shows how to configure the WiFi interface as a client when the Vault has FreeBSD installed. When configured as a WiFi client, it is referred to as “Infrastructure Mode” or “Base Service Set, (BSS)” There is another article in the Knowledge Base that describes how to install FreeBSD on the Vault at this link. Refer to that article for the basic installation and refer to the instructions below.

During OS installation, in the “Final Configuration” page:

  • Select “Network”
  • Select “run0” interface
  • Select regdomain/country or leave the default to “FCC/US”
  • Verify the system scans the wireless networks
  • Select the desired network SSID
  • Enter the proper password if required for the selected network
  • Select Configure IPv4
  • Select Configure DHCP
  • Select the DNS resolver
  • Exit, complete the installation, and reboot
  • Verify the FreeBSD boots correctly, wlan interface is present, and can connect to the Wireless network

Performance

The performance of the WiFi on the Vault is is limited to about 10-15 Mbps with pfSense® CE and FreeBSD. Therefore, the WiFi interface should not be used for heavy duty tasks. Its main use is for basic connectivity when fixed Ethernet ports are not available or practical.

How to Reset the Vault’s CMOS/BIOS

The Vault’s CMOS is a small amount of battery backed memory that retains system information and settings that are used by the BIOS. The CMOS can occasionally get into a state where it needs to be reset in order to address odd behavior.  This can occur due to an improper shutdown (see this FAQ) or other reasons. Symptoms of odd behavior on the Vault include:

  • Video output that is black, despite power being applied to the unit
  • Odd Performance issues
  • BIOS lockouts (setting and forgetting the BIOS Administrator or User Password)
  • Boot directly to BIOS without the Vault being able to recognize any connected drives
  • Other odd behavior

Resetting the CMOS restores the BIOS to the default settings and can sometimes resolve these types of issues.

To reset the CMOS/BIOS on the FW1, FW2, or FW4 series:

  • Verify the Vault power supply is disconnected
  • Open the Vault cover
  • Using a screwdriver or other metal tool, short the two pins shown in the photo below for about 10 seconds.

FW1, FW2, FW4A CMOS Reset Pins

To reset the CMOS/BIOS on the FW2B or FW4B series:

  • Verify the Vault power supply is disconnected
  • Open the Vault cover
  • Using a screwdriver or other metal tool, short the two pins shown in the photo below for about 10 seconds.

FW2B, FW4B CMOS Reset Pins

To reset the CMOS/BIOS on the FW6 series:

  • Verify the Vault power supply is disconnected
  • Open the Vault cover
  • Using a screwdriver or other metal tool, short the two pins shown in the photo below for about 10 seconds.

FW6 CMOS Reset Pins

After resetting, boot the Vault and verify that the system comes up correctly.

If the Vault does not boot and operate correctly, more advanced troubleshooting options may need to be used.

If there are any questions, feel free to reach out to us at:

support@protectli.com

Vault Hardware Compatibility

The Vault is a relatively simple product, in that it only requires a couple of components to be added in order for it to run.  The user only needs to add RAM (memory) and mSATA (storage) to the Vault in order to have a fully functional hardware system.

However, there is a wide variety of different hardware available for the Vault in the form of RAM and mSATA and not all of it is necessarily compatible from the hardware perspective.

Memory

FW1, FW2, FW4

The FW1, FW2, and FW4 platforms are based on the same basic design and accommodate SO-DIMM DDR3L memory modules.

Physical Socket

There is a single physical socket for RAM. It is a 204 pin SO-DIMM for DDR3L memory. There is a notch in the memory module that matches the socket so that only the proper type of memory can be physically inserted into the socket.

Capacity, Increments

SO-DIMM DDR3L comes in increments of 2GB, 4GB and 8GB. 8GB is the maximum size of a single memory module for the FW1, FW2 and FW4 series. Since there is only one socket, 8GB is also the maximum size for the system.

Voltage

The FW1, FW2 and FW4 series support the low voltage 1.35V DDR3L specification. The standard DDR3 modules at 1.5V are not compatible with the Vault. If DDR3 modules are inserted in the Vault, the probable symptom is that there will be no video.

Speed

The FW1, FW2 and FW4 series support the DDR3L-1600 specification where the module is referred to as the PC3-12800.

Availability

DDR3L memory that meets the requirements can typically be found on Amazon in the “Frequently Bought Together” section along with Protectli products. In addition, “Crucial” and “Samsung” modules have been successfully tested with the FW1, FW2 and FW4 series. Please see links below.

Protectli link

Crucial link

Samsung link

FW6

The FW6 is a different platform than the FW1, FW2 and FW4 series. It incorporates the SO-DIMM DDR4 memory modules.

Physical Socket

There are two physical sockets for RAM. They are 260 pin SO-DIMM for DDR4. There is a notch in the memory module that matches the socket so that only the proper type of memory can be physically inserted into the socket. When using a single DDR4 module, the module can be inserted into either socket.

Capacity, Increments

SO-DIMM DDR4 comes in increments of 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB. 16GB is the maximum size of a single memory module for the FW6 series. Since there are two sockets, 32GB is the maximum size for the system.

Voltage

The FW6 series support the low voltage 1.2V DDR4L specification.

Speed

The FW6 series recommends the DDR4-2400 specification where the module is referred to as the PC4-19200.

Availability

DDR4 memory that meets the requirements can be found on Amazon. Crucial, Samsung, and G.Skill Ripjaws modules have been successfully tested with the FW6 series. Please see links below.

Crucial link

Samsung link

Ripjaws link

Storage

FW1, FW2, FW4

The FW1, FW2, and FW4 platforms are based on the same basic design and use an mSATA Solid State Drive (SSD). mSATA devices up to 1 TB have been successfully deployed in the FW1, FW2, and FW4 series.

FW6

The FW6 uses an mSATA Solid State Drive (SSD). mSATA devices up to 1 TB have been successfully deployed in the FW6 series, but larger sizes should perform well as they become available.

In addition to the mSATA storage, there is a SATA interface and mounting plate for a single optional standard 2.5″ SSD.

Wireless

FW1, FW2, FW4, FW6

The FW1, FW2, FW4 and FW6 platforms all support an optional WiFi module. The WiFi module is a half height mini PCIe form factor card that supports WiFi 802.11 b/g/n at 2.4 GHz. The data path is over the internal USB channel. The WiFi kit includes the module, dual antennas, and the cables necessary to connect the antennas to the internal module. With the exception of the FW2B, only the Protectli WiFi module has been tested with Protectli platforms. Please see this link. The FW2B can use standard PCIe WiFi modules. However, be sure to verify driver support for the specific WiFi module with the specific OS such as FreeBSD, pfSense® CE, or Windows, etc.

AES-NI

AES-NI is the Intel Advanced Encryption Standard – New Instructions specification. It is hardware support by certain Intel processors for AES that accelerates the execution of the AES algorithm. It is becoming a mandatory requirement for support by some applications, notably pfSense® CE.

FW1, FW2

The FW1 and FW2 platforms do not support AES-NI because there is no support in the Intel Bay Trail-D J1800/J1900 processors.

FW2B, FW4A, FW4B

The FW2B, FW4A and FW4B platforms support AES-NI because it is supported by the Intel Celeron J3060, Atom E3845, and Celeron J3160 processors, respectively.

FW6

The FW6 platform does support AES-NI because it is supported by the Intel Kaby Lake processors.

Product Comparison

A comparison of the products can be found at this link.

How to use the Vault’s COM port

Several models the Vault come with an external COM port that can be used to view the Vault’s console output.  This COM port is simply a redirect from the Vault’s display output (whether HDMI or VGA).  Importantly, this output is used before an operating system boots, giving the user the ability to use the COM port instead of the VGA or HDMI ports for things like adjusting BIOS settings (if needed).

Connecting to the COM port is relatively simple.  Given that there aren’t many computers with COM ports these days, you’ll want to make sure you have a USB to Serial adapter (like this), as well as the serial cable that was supplied with your Vault.  Plug your serial port adapter into your computer.  If you’re running Windows 10, drivers should not be an issue. For the pinout of the COM port, see the table at the bottom of this article.

Note: For users who do not have a DB9 port on their computer, instead of using the supplied Serial RJ45 to DB-9F connector as well as a serial to USB converter, you can use a direct USB to serial RJ45 converter (like this).

By default, the Vault’s serial port is enabled, so out of the box, you can connect the RJ45 end of the blue serial port to the port labeled “COM” on the Vault.  Be sure not to plug the COM port RJ45 into any of the Vault’s network ports.

You also need to know what COM port your USB to serial adapter connects to.  This can be found in the Windows Device Manager (Start –> Settings –> Search for ‘device manager’).  Refer to the image below for where to find which COM port you need to use.  In this example, we are using COM3.

On your computer, you’ll need to use extra software in order to access the COM port.  In Windows, Putty (available here) is a popular choice.  Download, install, and open Putty.  You will find yourself at a screen that looks similar to the following.

First, click “Serial” under “Connection Type”, then adjust your “Serial Line” as necessary.    Next, change the “Speed” to be “115200” (this is the default value the Vault is set to).

Next, click “Open” and you will see a blank terminal window open.  Power on your Vault and you should start to see the equivalent of the VGA or HDMI output appear in the console window.

If you wish to access the Vault’s BIOS, you can do so by repeatedly clicking the <DEL> key as the Vault boots.  You should see a screen that looks like the following (note that the below screenshot actually shows COM port 4, not 3).

If the COM port is not communicating, it may be because “Console Redirection” is not enabled in the BIOS. To verify that “Console Redirection” is enabled, do the following (note that you would need to connect a USB Keyboard and VGA or HDMI enabled monitor to your Vault in order to enable serial).

  • Enter BIOS as described above by pressing the “Delete” key during boot.
  • Verify the BIOS Main Screen appears.

BIOS Main Screen

  • Select “Advanced” Tab and use the Down Arrow Key to select “Serial Port Console Redirection”

BIOS Advanced Tab

  • Select “Serial Port Console Redirection” and verify the screen is displayed.

BIOS Console Redirection Enabled

  • Select “Console Redirection” and verify that it is enabled.
  • Save and Exit BIOS (F4).
  • Verify the COM port session is now working.

COM Port Pinout

The pinout for the COM Port and RJ-45 to DB9 cable is shown in the table below. On the Vault, pin #1 of the COM port is the rightmost pin when looking at the port.  On the DB9 side of the cable, pin #1 is the upper right pin of the 5 pins when looking into the connector end.

Console Port (DTE)RJ-45 PinDB9 PinSignal
TX32RX
GND4--
GND55GND
RX63TX

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out by opening a support ticket: http://protectli.com/submit-ticket/

How to run a Memtest

If your Vault is exhibiting odd behavior, one possible troubleshooting path is to make sure that the RAM is not defective.  Defective RAM can cause a number of issues, from simply file system corruption to a Vault that simply wont boot.

A simple memtest is the easiest way to troubleshoot defective RAM.  In this example, we will use a memory test tool from memtest.org.  We will be demonstrating the creation of a bootable USB stick with memetest on it using Microsoft Windows 10.

***Note that you will need a USB stick whose contents will be deleted during this procedure.

First, download a copy of the memtest USB creation tool from the Protectli site at memtest86-usb.

***Note that if you download memtest from the official site at this link, MemTest86 V8  requires setting BIOS to UEFI mode.

This will download a file called “memtest86-usb.zip”.  Click the file, then click “Extract All” to extract the zip file.

Windows will open a new folder with the extracted files.

Double click on “imageUSB” to open the software which will install memtest onto your USB stick.  The memtest window will open, asking you to create and write an image.  Make sure your USB drive is inserted in your computer and click the “Refresh Drives” button.

***NOTE: The USB drive you are selecting will be wiped by the software, so be sure it does not have any files that cannot be deleted!!!

Once selected, choose, “Write to UFD” to start the process of creating the bootable USB Disk.

The process should only take a few minutes, after which you will be notified that it is done.

Once completed, remove the USB stick from your computer, and put it into the Vault (assuming the Vault is powered down).  With a Keyboard and Monitor connected to the Vault (or using a serial console (which is what we did in the screenshots), boot the vault, pressing “DEL” to ensure that you are able to get into the Vault’s BIOS.

Once in the BIOS, use the arrow keys to “tab” over to the “Save & Exit” tab.  Use the arrows to move the selection down under the “Boot Overide” section to “UEFI: <NAME OF USB STICK>”.  Depending on the USB stick you use, it will have a different name.

Once selected, the Vault will boot directly to the Memtest.

A full memtest will take several hours to run.  We highly recommend running a full memtest if you encounter any suspicious behavior on your Vault, as memory issues occur more often than one might think.  Any errors encountered during the memtest means that the RAM stick is bad and needs to be replaced.

For additional information or help, please feel free to reach out to support by opening a ticket.