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#308876 - 06/04/2008 14:38 NAS box recommendations
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3977
Loc: Manchester UK
I want to buy a standalone NAS box. Something that I can put 3 or 4 3.5 inch HD's (IDE or SATA) in a RAID 5 array and then serve it over SMB and/or NFS with at least 1 GigE connection. Web management would be nice.

There seems to be quite a few on the market that fit this description, but I'd like to know whether any of you guys have come across one you particularly like.

I'm trying to downsize my always-on hardware from 4 machines to preferably 1. Until recently I had a diskless shuttle (Mythtv Frontend), 2 full size PC's (Fileserver and MythTV Backend/VMWare Server) and a Tranquil box (Router/Firewall running off a CF card).

I've so far got it down to a Shuttle with a twin DVB-T card running MythBuntu with a mailserver in an Ubuntu JeOS running on VMware Server and the Tranquil PC (which I'd like to change to a purely hardware-based solution). However, I'm now running seriously low on disk space.
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Cheers,

Andy M

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#308880 - 06/04/2008 16:25 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: andym]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7856
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm still happy with my ReadyNAS NV+ that I used to replace my Linux server. I was in a similar situation where I realized it was silly how much equipment I had on all the time and was maintaining. While the server used to be a mail server and small web server for my friends back when I had a dedicated connection for it, ever since my move it was just a glorified SMB/AFP box.

Anyhow, the reason I picked the ReadyNAS was because it met my core requirements for a NAS, and they were:
1. Support AFP. With my heavy OS X usage, AFP is handy to have as it tends to work better then SMB.
2. Stream media via iTunes and uPnP protocols.
3. Be expandable in a non destructive way. I'm currently running mine with 3 750GB drives in "X-RAID" mode. X-RAID is just a marketing name for a system to pick the best RAID level for maximum usable space based on the drives in the system, tune the RAID For media performance, and also allow expansion. IE, you could start with one drive, and set it as X-RAID. No redundancy, but the system would support adding a second disk to then gain RAID-1 with no downtime. Add a 3rd, and the RAID transitions to RAID 5, and adding a 4th expands to all 4 disks with RAID 5.

Management is all web based, and has some nice features like allowing packaged addons to be added quickly. Under the hood, it is running Linux, and they do allow users to SSH in and work at that level if desired. Processor wise it runs a little SPARC chip, then uses a hardware RAID chip to avoid the RAID calculations from tying up the CPU. While the hardware RAID chip did concern me a little with portability, the 5 year warranty helps alleviate my fears of being away from the data too long if the hardware fails.

Their support community is also really good, and has not degraded even after Netgear bought the company. Their boards are here, and their developers regularly participate and answer questions.

Some useful features include UPS integration for powering down during an outage, the ability to share USB printers, or USB disks over the network, the ability to schedule the device to turn on and off at different times during the week, and a decent monitoring system that can e-mail you any issues that arise.
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Tom

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#308888 - 06/04/2008 17:50 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: andym]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2501
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
If you've still got some patience, the new Synology DS-508 due to release very soon now. (somewhere this April)

Synology really is a great company. Support is swift and no-nonsense, and they've got a great active forum.

I've used two of their devices up to now (CS407 & DS207), and both have been great! I myself also really want this DS508!

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#308893 - 06/04/2008 23:18 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: Archeon]
MarkH
member

Registered: 06/04/2000
Posts: 155
+1 for Synology CS407. 4 bays, GigE, very tweakable, lots of support both official and unofficial.

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#308923 - 07/04/2008 19:13 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: MarkH]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3977
Loc: Manchester UK
The Netgear looks 'really' nice but is a little on the expensive side (500 with no drives). I think the Synology CS407 looks good. Scan are selling several boxes made by a company called Thecus, they're quite cheap and the specs look okay.
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Andy M

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#308924 - 07/04/2008 19:28 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: andym]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7856
Loc: Seattle, WA
It might be worth a look to find a Netgear reseller in the US willing to sell to the UK. Diskless units are around ~$650 or so if you look, so it would cut it down to 325. Not sure what your price range is though. For me, the price was justified when they bumped the warranties up to 5 years.

Whatever you pick, make sure to find some actual reviews on the units, since specs don't say how well the device will actually run, and bargain basement prices on a box might be a sign of a really old and slow model being sold still.
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Tom

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#308925 - 07/04/2008 19:35 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Not to mention that I had one once that just plain old sucked. Lousy interface, bugs, etc.
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Bitt Faulk

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#308931 - 08/04/2008 06:54 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: andym]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2501
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Originally Posted By: andym
The Netgear looks 'really' nice but is a little on the expensive side (500 with no drives). I think the Synology CS407 looks good. Scan are selling several boxes made by a company called Thecus, they're quite cheap and the specs look okay.

I don't think you really want Thecus. While I agree their specs look very good, usually even better than competing units because they use celerons in their products and not weaker risc CPU's, it seems their support is terrible. This is only one horror story I was able to find online.

If you really want a box now, then the Synology CS-407 really is the best option. They've just released new firmware which also makes the unit a lot faster too. (For the initial review, click here)
If you can wait, then I would hold off for the DS-508, since that model has a few additions that I personally like a lot, like hot swappable bays and a much faster CPU.
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#308954 - 08/04/2008 16:51 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: Archeon]
matthew_k
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/02/2002
Posts: 2287
Loc: Berkeley, California
Yikes, 889, for the ds508, that's kind of expensive. I know you're paying for the raid5 performance, but how often are you going to notice the difference between 10MB/s and 30MB/s? Certainly not when you're on wireless, which for me is the main reason for needing networked storage at home. If I wanted to have a desktop, I'd leave the drives attached to it.

At work we have a terastation (Pro II, I think) which has worked just fine as a place to dump backups. At home I'm using an NSLU2, which has worked much better than I thought it would, it's perfect for streaming over SMB to the xbox media center.

I'm looking to buy something faster with more drives sooner than later, but I'm pretty cheap, and it takes a lot to justify the price of the $1k+ nas boxes.

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#308960 - 08/04/2008 18:08 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: Archeon]
webroach
old hand

Registered: 23/07/2003
Posts: 869
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Archeon
While I agree their specs look very good, usually even better than competing units because they use celerons in their products and not weaker risc CPU's, it seems their support is terrible. This is only one horror story I was able to find online.


Ha! That made my day! Not only is the "review" of Thecus on a competitor's site, the review itself is almost completely devoid of any sense of grammar! Bitt, read that one at your own risk. wink
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Dave

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#308961 - 08/04/2008 18:34 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: webroach]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Wow.

Nine paragraphs and a total of eight periods. Impressive. Even if it was split into actual sentences, I doubt that there is one that doesn't contain at least one error of another nature.

Okay, my OCD kicked in and I counted them. Splitting the sentences for him, and ignoring "yer", there are still 83 grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors in that post. And I was being pretty lenient. Although I did discover that there were a handful of sentences (of which there are somewhere around 31, by the way) that actually contained no more errors. Score one for Nigel.

Of course, with 105 errors in 31 sentences, we might have to take that one away.
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Bitt Faulk

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#308962 - 08/04/2008 18:40 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: wfaulk]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 30591
Loc: Seattle, WA
Bitt, this recent XKCD is for you.

smile
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Tony Fabris

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#308963 - 08/04/2008 18:54 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: tfabris]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Oh, I forgot to include my favorite snippet. This is where a line ended on my browser:
Quote:
they crap on everyone else hands
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Bitt Faulk

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#309224 - 17/04/2008 11:58 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: wfaulk]
jbauer
veteran

Registered: 08/05/2000
Posts: 1429
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I have a QNAP TS-109 Pro. Love it, but wish the processor was a bit faster. Quiet, feature rich, firmware updated every few weeks, well supported.

Just installed the new (v7) SqueezeCenter on it, and am using it to serve a Logitech Duet, which is really good.

For the QNAP, see here: http://www.qnap.com/pro_detail_feature.asp?p_id=79

For the Duet, see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonbauer/2201090662/ (video too).

- Jon

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#318475 - 26/01/2009 22:59 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: jbauer]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
Digging up an old thread..

I had opportunity yesterday to examine a "QNAP TS-209 Pro" here.

This is a two-drive RAID1 NAS box, Linux/ARM based on the inside, with dual hot-pluggable SATA slots, several external USB2 ports, and GigEthernet. The software inside is positively *ancient*.. a 2.6.12 Linux kernel, but with several customizations.

The SATA controller is a Marvell 6081 chip, which I know a little bit about, and the software is creaking along with Marvell's proprietary driver for it. Which was really the only option, back in the 2.6.12 days.

With very fast drives, it manages > 30MBytes/sec read speeds (those same drives can do > 110MBytes/sec in a faster machine with the same controller chip + my newer driver).

The GigE port is purely for marketing purposes, as the system barely manages 50-60 mbits/sec over it when reading data from the box. It might be faster in the other direction, but I was on a non-destructive mission with it. smile

Speaking of that mission: The owner had originally installed dual 750GB drives, but needed more space. So he had installed new 1GB drives, one at a time, allowing the RAID1 to sync up individually from the old drives.

That part worked fine, to a point. The software auto-partitioned his 1GB drives to include all available space just fine, but did not automatically enlarge the RAID or filesystem data structures to actually use the space.

So I popped the drives out and into a larger/faster system, and after a binary backup of the RAID, we looked at fixing matters.

mdadm --grow --size max /dev/md0 worked like a charm -- the raid absorbed the extra 250GB without any fuss.

But getting the filesystem to see/use it was another matter. Doing this requires the resize2fs command, which was missing from the box.

When logged into the NAS, it reported ext3 as the filesystem type. But in our bigger full Linux box, the kernel identified it as ext4 (!). Quite the feat for something created under a 2.6.12 kernel, long before ext4 had even been conceived.

It turns out that their custom kernel included patches to add extents to ext3, a feature that nowadays belongs only to its newer cousin. But the real problem is that the on-disk layout/structures for those extents has been changed since the experimental days way back when.

Which means that no standard kernel, regardless of age, can actually reliably access the data stored on those drives. Apart from the custom kernel the box is shipped with, that is. But the box is missing the critical resize2fs command which is necessary for adding space to a filesystem (be it ext2, ext3, or ext4).

Which brought us to a practical dead-end. My buddy is now copying his data off of the NAS onto a USB drive, after which he'll reinit the NAS from scratch to incorporate the full TB capacity of his new drives, and will then copy the data back onto it again. 22-23 hours per copy for the 550GB of data he has.

There is some GPL source code on the company site, for an older release of their firmware, but it doesn't build with the modern GNU tools on my notebook here. If we spent another day on it, we could eventually succeed in rebuilding the tools, and obtain a working (on the box itself) copy of resize2fs for it, but it just didn't seem worthwhile. smile

Instead, all I got was this story..

Cheers



Edited by mlord (27/01/2009 12:56)

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#318484 - 27/01/2009 03:53 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7856
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quite the story, and it sounds like quite the attempt to get it to upgrade. I'm really surprised the NAS didn't just do the right thing.

I was curious, and found my ReadyNAS is running 2.6.17. I'll have to see if they bump that up from time to time in the updates. It handled the addition of a 4th drive without incident, so I'm comfortable in saying it should be ok if I start replacing drives with larger ones.

Had a bit of a scare recently with it as well, since it is running all 750GB Seagate drives. Firmware though isn't one of the versions affected by their bug, so thankfully I'm not expecting the drives to drop dead prematurely.
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Tom

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#318489 - 27/01/2009 12:58 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: drakino]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
Yes.. both of his new new drives had SD15 on them, and sure enough.. one of them croaked within a week of purchase, on a power up cycle.

That drive got replaced under warranty (back in December, before Seagate acknowledged there was even a hint of a firmware issue), and we updated the firmware on the two current drives during this shuffling..

Cheers

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#318510 - 27/01/2009 18:02 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2501
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
And here I was thinking QNAP was one of the better NAS manufacturers. The people at smallnetbuilder.com used a Qnap (granted, a TS-509 pro) to break the 100 MB/S barrier on a Gigabyte network. The Qnap was the first NAS unit (and currently still the only unit IIRC) which was able to do this.

Does this unit also run the same 'patched kernel' software? I was actually thinking of buying of one those, but now that I've read this, I think I won't.
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#318512 - 27/01/2009 18:16 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: Archeon]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
Oh, don't take my ramblings too much to heart -- I'd probably have very similar complaints about most of the other NAS boxes on the market, if given a chance to examine them!

At least the QNAP has SSH access, so things can be fixed/debugged should the need ever arise (think, "empeg serial port", but for a NAS box..).

Apart from the "no ultra-high-speed way to get data out of it" issue, the box seems to work okay. Pity about the slow ethernet, but I suspect it's not unique to this brand/model.

cheers

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#318513 - 27/01/2009 18:19 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
Oh, and while I'm on a rant..

Why do these *Linux-based* boxes never seem to come with a (Linux-friendly) preconfigured NFS server ??? Just like the empeg, all of the fun (factory) software is for foreign systems only.

Cheers

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#318514 - 27/01/2009 18:50 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2501
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Originally Posted By: mlord
Pity about the slow ethernet, but I suspect it's not unique to this brand/model.

Indeed. The weak CPU's are usually at fault there. Ok, they have the advantage of being relatively cheap and consuming only very little power, but on the other hand they always come short in the performance department as well. The new generation of NAS'es, like the aforementioned TS-509 pro and also the latest Infrant (netgear) model now use Intel Celeron CPU's which gives them a lot more punch, but forces them to consume more power as well... it's a delicate balance.
Originally Posted By: mlord

Why do these *Linux-based* boxes never seem to come with a (Linux-friendly) preconfigured NFS server ??? Just like the empeg, all of the fun (factory) software is for foreign systems only.

Ok, I'll bite. smile What's wrong with the NFS server that comes with these boxes? (stuff like this intrigues me since I'm now also step by step discovering the realm that is called Linux grin )

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#318516 - 27/01/2009 19:45 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: Archeon]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7856
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: Archeon
The people at smallnetbuilder.com used a Qnap (granted, a TS-509 pro) to break the 100 MB/S barrier on a Gigabyte network.

Though it looks like the test that they did to get that number only confirmed writing to 4GB of RAM cache is indeed fast. No good numbers there for what usable speeds are when writing to the disks.
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Tom

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#318523 - 27/01/2009 22:28 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: Archeon]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Archeon
Originally Posted By: mlord
Why do these *Linux-based* boxes never seem to come with a (Linux-friendly) preconfigured NFS server ??? Just like the empeg, all of the fun (factory) software is for foreign systems only.

Ok, I'll bite. smile What's wrong with the NFS server that comes with these boxes?

There is *no* NFS server included normally. *That's* the problem! smile

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#318527 - 27/01/2009 23:55 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7856
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
There is *no* NFS server included normally. *That's* the problem!

I suppose that is why I bought the ReadyNAS over other units, similar to buying the empeg over the Neo.


Attachments
nfsnas.jpg

Description: nas nfs screenshot


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Tom

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#318529 - 28/01/2009 02:14 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
jimhogan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 06/10/1999
Posts: 2591
Loc: Seattle, WA, U.S.A.
Nobody has yet mentioned building a NAS based on OpenFiler.

Fixed.
_________________________
Jim


'Tis the exceptional fellow who lies awake at night thinking of his successes.

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#318530 - 28/01/2009 02:33 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: jimhogan]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
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Bitt Faulk

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#318531 - 28/01/2009 02:36 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: jimhogan]
matthew_k
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/02/2002
Posts: 2287
Loc: Berkeley, California
Quote:
Nobody has yet mentioned building a NAS based on OpenFiler.

I know you've mentioned it before, are you using it in a production environment? I've been spending the last few weeks getting acquainted with VMware's ESX and the really cool features all require a SAN or an NFS share. A SAN seems to be Out Of Our Price Range, but openfiler would definitely come in under budget.

On the home front, I'm very happy with my ReadyNAS. I bought 1.5TB drives as soon as they were released, and they made a beta firmware update that week to make it work, and released the final version it shortly thereafter. Well worth the premium over a buffalo or the like for the service alone.

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#318532 - 28/01/2009 02:43 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: matthew_k]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
ESX doesn't need anything special from an NFS server. You could just set up a regular old Linux box with a big disk.
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Bitt Faulk

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#318533 - 28/01/2009 02:47 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: wfaulk]
jimhogan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 06/10/1999
Posts: 2591
Loc: Seattle, WA, U.S.A.
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Or FreeNAS.


Ah! We have them surrounded!
_________________________
Jim


'Tis the exceptional fellow who lies awake at night thinking of his successes.

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#318537 - 28/01/2009 09:55 Re: NAS box recommendations [Re: mlord]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2501
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Originally Posted By: mlord

There is *no* NFS server included normally. *That's* the problem! smile

Ah! smile I must say I've never noticed that, but then again, I've never looked any furter than Thecus, Synology, Qnap and Infrant. And these brands all offer NFS on their features list. But yes, I've now looked at a few other (usually cheaper brands), and NFS support is indeed systematically lacking.
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