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What NAS?

Posted by coldtobi | 10 Dec, 2007, 10:43

I am still looking after an not-too-expensive but "good" NAS for my home network. There are quite a lot of differnet models out there, that will meet my expectations. Unfortuantly, I could not find a comperasion that shows all the features I want.

In this article, I try to assemble such a comperasion. But be warned: Its matched to the needs and features I want, sorted to the importance:

  1. Supports at least Samba. FTP, rsync and other non-proprietary protocols a plus
  2. MUST NOT use NDAS
  3. Unit must use a "common" file system (I case of hardware-failure, I want my data back)
  4. Enclosure must have place for all hardrives
  5. RAID support. That is you need at least two physical hardrives.
  6. Power efficient (otherwise I could recycle an old computer)
  7. Silent
  8. Should be able to run custom software. So this usually narrows down to a linux driven box with any access to it (to enable ssh for example)
  9. Max. 350 € for 1 Terra Byte of gross storage.
  10. Not-too short on RAM

Models over 350 are not reviewed at all. This is simply over my budget I planing to spend. (Of course, if the manufacturer would send me a unit for review... ;-) )

I took a closer look at these candidates: Maxtor Shared Storage II,  Western Digital My Book World Edition II, and finally the Thecus N2100. 

[Updated Dec 10 2007] 

So lets look at the candidates:

( This is a work-in-progress-article. Published, but not yet finished.)  

_ASIP_

Maxtor Shared Storage II

Mfg Specs:

    http://www.maxtorsolutions.com/en/catalog/MSS_II_Dual/index.html

Criteria:  ("Red Striked" means "not fullfilled";  Orange and italic is for "partly fulfilled", read more in the /dev/notes section. Green and bold is "more than expected" fulfilled. Unmarked: Evaluating...)

  1. Supports at least Samba. FTP, rsync and other non-properitary protocols a plus.
  2. MUST NOT use NDAS
  3. Unit must use a "common" filesystem (I case of hardware-failure, I want my data back) 
  4. Enclosure must have place for all harddrives
  5. RAID support. That is you need at least two physical harddrives.
  6. Power efficient (otherwise I could recycle an old computer)
  7. Silent
  8. Should be able to run custom software. So this usually narrows down to a linux driven box with any access to it (to enable ssh for example)
  9. Max. 350 € for 1 Terra Byte of gross storage.
  10. Not-too short on RAM

Note: Only the 1TB version uses two hardrives. The other version has its own housing that supports only one drive and has also half the RAM. 

The fan is reported to be quite audible. This is not acceptable, as the NAS will be in the living room. Also, the warranty void-sticker prevents corrective measures. (eg. a better fan)

Pros:

  • 64 MB of Memory
  • Running Linux, Opened, Crosscomling should work
  • Price quite ok: street price at this time: approx. 289€ (http://www.heise.de/preisvergleich/a209626.html)
  • two USB 2.0 ports (external additional storage and printers).
  • Gigabit-Ethernet (and able to use it!)
  • Quite fast: Writes about 14MB/s on a GBit Ethernet, 7MB/s on 100MBit (all approx)

Cons:

  • Sealed. Physically accessing the harddrive voids warranty. (see also text below for some thoughts)
  • No (hardware) encryption support (would relativate the first con)
  • Will not share multimedia too more than one user. *sic*. Read Killer 2.0

Killer: When unit fails, you have to the right to choose your poison: loose your data or your warranty. Okay, its not "loose": The customer service charges a fee, when data should be kept on drive during repair.  Price for "rescue" data on unit according some feedback is near the price for a new unit. And that also means exposing all your data to a third-party company.)  

Update: Killer 2.0: (read http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/06/western-digital-netw.html)

Due to unverifiable media license authentication, the following file types cannot be shared by different users using WD Anywhere Access. [Source]

 

Links: 

/dev/notes:

  • USB Ports works only as host. Not for hooking up to another computer!
  • The fan is reported to be quite audible. This is not acceptable, as the NAS will be in the living room. Also, the warranty void-sticker prevents corrective measures. (eg. a better fan)
  • Power-Consumption, according a review, is 14W if running, 8W when idle.
  • FTP and rsync is only available when "unsluged", flashed with open firmware.
  • The MSSII uses ext3 as fs. (see here) 

Western Digital My Book World Edition II

Criteria:  ("Red Striked" means "not fullfilled";  Orange and italic is for "partly fulfilled", read more in the /dev/notes section. Green and bold is "more than expected" fulfilled. Unmarked: Evaluating...)

  1. Supports at least Samba. FTP, rsync and other non-properitary protocols a plus.
  2. MUST NOT use NDAS
  3. Unit must use a "common" filesystem (I case of hardware-failure, I want my data back) 
  4. Enclosure must have place for all harddrives
  5. RAID support. That is you need at least two physical harddrives.
  6. Power efficient (otherwise I could recycle an old computer)
  7. Silent
  8. Should be able to run custom software. So this usually narrows down to a linux driven box with any access to it (to enable ssh for example)
  9. Max. 350 € for 1 Terra Byte of gross storage.
  10. Not-too short on RAM

Pros:

  • not sealed.
  • no need to reflash for ssh access.
  • price ok (approx 265€)
  • only 4W in idle.
  • long warranty (on one place I read 3yr, on another 2yr)
  • Unused, but they have an AES Crypto-Chip on board.

Cons:

  • only 32MB RAM 
  • Loud fan, but fan can be SW-controlled. Replacing fan voids warranty.
  • SLOW!!! approx 4MB/s, as seen in some third-party revies.
  • Mionet-SW "Forces" some kind of "DRM" on non-DRM files (mp3 won't be visible to other users). Read the pcworld review for details.

Links: 

/dev/notes:

The 32MByte limits the usability: I want to use the NAS for running a backup server, and that is probably the bottle-neck then, especially if the MSSII costs only 20€ more. And also: The CPU is just too slow for that. Speedup would be the AES chip, if I go for encryption.


_ASIP_

Thecus N2100 / Allnet ALL6500 NAS

Mfg-Link: http://www.thecus.com/products_over.php?cid=1&pid=1 

(The two enclosures are technically the same, but the Allnet is apparently equipped with more RAM.)

After spenfing some time on the topic, I must admit, that this is currently the favourite. This "NAS" this more a small PC than "only" an NAS. The reasons, why I probably will spend over my own limit is obvious, if you look at the specs and all the other features making a geeks heart warmer: Lots of mem, enough CPU power, expandable. And, another point: Other companies work against supporting linux, Thecus *especially* helped, by for example providing samples for the porting to debian, shipping a firmware-update to enable telnet access to the RedBoot bootloader (helps unbricking, iif ever needed)... 

The device is powerful: Equipped with 128 MByte RAM (up to 512 MByte by replacing the module), and a powerful 600MHz CPU, this NAS can serve also as a mail server, spam checker, backup server, etc... So this is a perfect match for what I want this unit. Also, as it is running linux of a flash chip, I am very sure that it will support much larger disks than the currently available 1TBs one. And as it has space for two drives, RAID 0 or RAID 1 is possible.  

But lets start with the list. The Allnet seems unavailable, at least I was unable to find a store bearing that nice piece of electronics. The Thecus N2100 starts at (roughly) € 270 BYOD. (Update: At hardwareschotte.de, I found it at currently 264 €)

Don't get misleaded for the price: It looks cheap, but it is "BYOD", "Bring Your Own Drive", so it is enclousre-only.

Okay, back to the list:

  1. Supports at least Samba. FTP, rsync and other non-proprietary protocols a plus
  2. MUST NOT use NDAS
  3. Unit must use a "common" file system (I case of hardware-failure, I want my data back)
  4. Enclosure must have place for all hardrives
  5. RAID support. That is you need at least two physical hardrives.
  6. Power efficient (otherwise I could recycle an old computer) (power supply rated 60W, other sources tell it is using 8 Watts in standby, 14 Watts in-use)
  7. Silent (Modeable to use quiet fan; Fan controllable trough SW, at least "theoretically")
  8. Should be able to run custom software. So this usually narrows down to a linux driven box with any access to it (to enable ssh for example) (Can I give a double-green? Damn, this unit can use STOCK DEBIAN!)
  9. Max. 350 € for 1 Terra Byte of gross storage.
  10. Not-too short on RAM (Another double-green: uses  a DDR-400 module.)

Pros:

  • not sealed. (Have-to-open for installation.)
  • two options for "own linux on the box": Reflash with debian kernel, or run debian in an chroot.
  • comes with128 MB DDR-RAM; expandable up to 512MB with standard DDR memory module.
  • 2 Ethernet interfaces, both Gbit
  • 3 USB2.0, additionally 1 internal. (that hidden by the case. Needs mod too utilize.)
  • Debian supported, can be installed with sotck debian installer (currently the installer is broken due a missing dependency.)
  • Internal mini-PCI slot. Can be used for WLAN, if the two GBits are not enough.
  • Intel XScale 80219 CPU @ 600 MHz. FAAAASST!!!

Cons:

  • Loud fan, but fan can be SW-controlled. (Fan is hooked up using a connector. So should not void warranty.)
  • Quite expensive

Links: 

/dev/notes:

This is defintily the best piece of hardware I found so far. The price is rather expensive compared to the other, as you have to add roughly 200€ for the harddrives. But it is a match for what I want to do with the NAS. So sometimes its better to spend some bucks more to have the whole cake. In other words: This is my very own christmas present.

However One oddity is to be noted: The best German price is approx €270. The best US Prive $249.95, or approx €170. 

 

General NAS Link: 

http://nas-central.org/ALL_COMMUNITIES/Collection_of_NAS-Hacking_communities.html 

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