Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Data Storage

What NAS To Buy? 621

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the to-busy-to-build-your-own dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Currently, I'm running an old 4u Linux server for my private backup and storage needs. I could add new drives, but it's just way too bulky (and only IDE). For the sake of size and power efficiency I think about replacing it with a NAS solution, but cannot decide which one to get. The only requirements I have are capacity (>1.5TB) and RAID5. Samba/FTP/USB is enough. Since manufacturers always claim their system to be the best, I'd like to hear some suggestions from you Slashdot readers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

What NAS To Buy?

Comments Filter:
  • well (Score:2, Funny)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) *

    definitely not the kind that has been doing all that warrantless wire-tapping. Make sure it is the kind that makes your car go really fast.

  • FreeNAS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ded Bob (67043) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:36AM (#24000319) Homepage
    Something such as FreeNAS (http://www.freenas.org/) may work for you, if you purchase your own hardware. A quick rundown of what it provides: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeNAS
    • Re:FreeNAS (Score:5, Funny)

      by anaesthetica (596507) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:04AM (#24000897) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I much prefer Illmatic [wikipedia.org]. Don't know what the rest of you are on about...
    • Re:FreeNAS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Firehed (942385) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:13AM (#24001075) Homepage

      What are your experiences with the speed of FreeNAS? The couple of times I've dabbled with it, it was unusably slow by my standards (ie, 100Kb/s over a gigabit connection); no fault of the hardware, which currently serves at speeds of 20+MB/s using the disgusting but functional standard Windows file sharing.

      • Re:FreeNAS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sentry21 (8183) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:01PM (#24002039) Journal

        Using iSCSI, I maxed out a 100 megabit connection using an IDE drive. I feel confident that I could build on that pretty easily if I were thwacking a bunch of drives in there.

        My plan is a FreeNAS box exporting drives over iSCSI to a Solaris server using ZFS. Easier to expand.

        One of these [icydock.com] and One of these [icydock.com] in One of these [dvhardware.net].

        Coolermaster makes some other cases with 8 (!!) 5.25" slots, which is enough for altogether too many drives. That said, the likelihood is that even four drive slots would give you enough room to move around. 4x1TB now, then in a year when it fills up, add 3x2TB. Down the road, replace the 4x1TB with 4x4TB, and so on.

        Actually, running Solaris on it directly might be more efficient. Hmm..

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770)

        You probably run into some Samba wierdness, I had a 100Mbit switch and it worked fine, got a gigabit switch instead with same installation and speed dropped to 100kbit/s while raw speed tests showed 3-400Mbit/s. Still on same hardware and some upgrades later it finally worked normally again, but samba is definately hit or miss. Google didn't help, the forums didn't help and joining the samba irc channel and being told that it was probably my "Wintendo" box that was the problem didn't help either. I was pret

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lpq (583377)

        Yup -- same here. After avoiding 100Mb-T based NAS units for years, I finally see one that offered 1Gb. It
        was VERY unimpressive.

        With a 2x750G, 7200RPM-SATA RAID-0, read was 12MB/s, and writes were about 9-10MB/s. It used ext3 as a file system, but don't know what the OS was (would guess linux, but dunno where else ext3 might be).

        It went back to Fry's and I haven't tried it since. That was a few months ago. I don't know why but most of
        the consumer NAS's I've seen are crap for speed. With a linux server

    • Re:FreeNAS (Score:5, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:15AM (#24001105) Homepage Journal

      OpenFiler is also a good choice. Get that with a low power AMD cpu and you will have a nice inexpensive NAS.

    • Re:FreeNAS (Score:5, Informative)

      by mitgib (1156957) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:15AM (#24001117) Homepage Journal
      Also in the home brew camp would be OpenFiler [openfiler.com] which I have a few I've built. Tyan has a nice 1U case with 4 hot swap bays that is reasonable, then their S2925 motherboard will support the Phenom (overkill on a NAS) but a nice X2 4000 is super cheap, and the board supports cheap RAM, add in a 3Ware 9650 for sata raid, or I've really started liking the Adaptec 3405 for SATA/SAS.


      I personally don't use Samba for anything, like your cleaning lady, I don't do Windows, but I've at least tested it and seems to work fine. LDAP is supported as well as NT4 and Active Directory for authentication. I have 4 boxes setup using LDAP and backup 300 servers between them and I simply never have to do anything except define new shares when I need one.

      • Re:FreeNAS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rho (6063) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:14PM (#24002277) Homepage Journal

        Problem with Openfiler is it doesn't do any authentication itself. Or it didn't the last time I messed with it. You had to have another machine set up to do LDAP or Samba (or whatever) authentication. It was a huge pain in the ass and I gave up on it as a home-based solution. Very powerful, but huge overkill.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:16AM (#24001131)

      At one time I got myself a brand new $200 P4 (back when it was still the best chip) at a grand opening of an Office max, plugged in a whole pile of drives and set up a software raid 10.

      Then I did the math. the power bills to run this thing 24/7 were going to be more than the cost of the computer. My disks would be pretty much spinning all the time even though for home usage i'd say I actually hit non-local disks maybe a few times a week at most.

      So I sold it and went to external (firewire) disks and attatched them to computers I was already using. This makes so much more sense as a backup system. It actually cost less both in terms of chassis and power for a small system.

      Even better is that I can detach the disks and take them offsite (my office desk at work) and rotate in new disks. my big fear is not losing my last week of stuff but losing say all my family photos or long term bussiness records, manuscripts etc. So really an always-on raid is not as big an issue to me as off-site storage. Because I rotate the disks I still have duplicates of everything.

      The other nice thing is that since I have a wireless G network, when I want fast access to the disks I can move them from my desktop to my lap top.

      Now some people say well, those external disks are more expensive because of their chasis and interfaces or that they are slower. But not really. with the dedicated server solution you have the computer and interface cards to buy. Probably a separate screen and keyboard as well. The power consumed is far more. And for low duty cycle usage you don't have to spin the disks all the time.

      • by gfxguy (98788) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:05PM (#24003199)

        Interesting, but it's not a good solution for a household with multiple computers running at odd times. What if you're at work and your wife wants to access those mp3s? She has to turn your computer on? She has to take the firewire/USB drive from your computer, including the power cables and stuff?

        I have a USB drive, with four people in my household, and five computers total, it's not a viable solution for sharing all the family photos and music. You may not need a dedicated server, but at least one box has to pretty much always be on.

        If you skip down, you might see my other thread:

        Online storage [slashdot.org]

        I guess it depends how much you have to store, but the solution I was given sounds great...

        • No hardware to buy.
        • No extra electricity used.
        • Offsite storage gives you back up in case of catastrophic disaster.


        The only downside is speed, but I don't see why people really need that much speed for most things. I mean, I don't normally, for example, rotate out ALL of my mp3s on my player, just maybe a few dozen at a time; low-res photos are on my website, so I don't normally need to access the high-res versions very often... plus I'd generally work locally and then save remotely.

        So I haven't tried this out yet, but I intend to... for my 30GB worth of stuff that I have right now (that's worth backing up and sharing amongst the computers), it's like $4.50/month. Sadly, I wish I could use my GoDaddy account (where I have over 100GB free), but I can only use that with FTP. Fine for me, but no one else in my family.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by swillden (191260)

        Then I did the math. the power bills to run this thing 24/7 were going to be more than the cost of the computer.

        You must have really expensive electricity. My home file server (six hard drives, some IDE some SATA, totalling 2TB, with a 1.3 GHz Athlon CPU and 1 GB of RAM) has consumed 217 KWh in the 71 days since I hooked up a Kill-a-Watt P3 to it. That's an average usage of 127.3 W. So in a year, it'll consume 1,116 KWh. At a cost of 7.5 cents per KWh, it'll cost me $83.66 to run it this year. That's not nothing, of course, but it's a heck of a lot less than I paid for the hard drives in the machine, and it's we

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <.ten.3dlrow. .ta. .ojom.> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:14AM (#24012655) Homepage

        A lower power PC is ideal for this sort of thing, for a few reasons. An underclocked and undervolted Sempron is ideal, and will only use maybe 40-50W including the HDDs so should only cost a few pounds a month to run at most (try http://www.ukpower.co.uk/running-costs-elec.asp [ukpower.co.uk]).

        I use Windows XP for mine. I connect other PCs and an XBOX via Samba, but of course FTP/NFS etc are also possible. Windows has the advantage of NTFS, which is robust and supports Unicode fully. Performance over gigabit is descent, up to 60MB/sec.

        I can also run other useful stuff on the box, including BitTorrent, Tor and weekly anti-virus scans. It's handy to have an always-on general purpose box. Admin is via VNC.

        The only real down side of using Windows is that power saving for HDDs sucks. Ideally they would spin down when not in use, but with Windows it just doesn't work. If you want mounted volumes on the drives, periodic access (even with crap like System Restore and the Indexing Service disabled) prevents them from staying spun down for more than a minute or two.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:38AM (#24000351)

    As a person who's suffered a RAID-5 failure and dealt with the poor performance I can say that RAID-10 is significantly better performance and significantly better reliability that is well worth it.

    Don't make the RAID-5 mistake.

    • by Anrego (830717) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:46AM (#24000555)

      I don't know why AC got modded troll... it's good advice. I built my file server as raid5 and am regretting it. It's the most economical, and you do get some redundancy.. but if I had to do it all over again, I'd totally go raid10.

      With Raid5 .. two drives fail and your done. Unless you buy every drive at a different time from a different manufacturer, chances are under the same wear conditions, two will fail around the same time. With a raid10 .. you put all one brand on one side, all of another brand on the other side... possibly on a separate controller. Raid10 can withstand a much larger failure... and you also get some serious performance++.

      • by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:54AM (#24000707)

        With Raid5 .. two drives fail and your done

        Then go with RAID 6. Takes 3 failures (out of 4!) to lose data. By the way, is there any sort of setup out there with more than 2 parity drives?

        Also, if you've got 4 drives in your RAID 10 setup only two drives need to fail for you to be screwed, plus you only get (theoretically) twice the performance of a single drive, as with a RAID 5 setup for the same amount of drives you get 3 times the performance.

        • by Snover (469130) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:12AM (#24001069) Homepage

          Um, no, try again. RAID-6 is n+2 redundancy, not n+3. RAID-10 is n+2 on a good day but you are really only guaranteed n+1, since if both mirrored disks fail then you are screwed.

        • by Cecil (37810) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:17AM (#24001161) Homepage

          Using RAID 1+0, you get almost 4 times the performance for reads, and 2 times for writes.

          Using RAID5, you get maybe 3 times the performance for reads (if you're lucky), and writes can be slower than a single drive due to parity calculations.

          Clearly, 1+0 is the preferred choice for performance (and yes, I have used both, for years)

          I would still recommend RAID5, as it's worked quite well and been very economical for me, but performance-happy it is not.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by 4D6963 (933028)
            Oh yeah good point I forgot that you didn't need to read everything twice for RAID 10. As for RAID 5's write performance there's variations of RAID 5 like RAID-Z [wikipedia.org] that try to address this.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by wonkavader (605434)

            "Using RAID5, you get maybe 3 times the performance for reads (if you're lucky), and writes can be slower than a single drive due to parity calculations."

            This is an old idea. That doesn't mean it's wrong, but it's worth thinking about in the situation.

            Low-end controllers tend to have crappy processors on them. Crappy processors cannot compute a checksum very quickly. But modern non-crappy processors are insanely fast compared to modern disk.

            When you make this sort of calculation, you have to figure out w

          • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:52PM (#24011023) Homepage Journal

            I would still recommend RAID5, as it's worked quite well and been very economical for me, but performance-happy it is not.

            I'd recommend RAID6, personally. Not because two simultaneous disk failures are likely -- they're not -- but because the process of rebuilding a degraded array is very intensive and there's a good chance that if you've got a second drive that's getting close to failing, the rebuild process will trigger it.

            This happened to me. Twice. I had a six-disk set, five active disks in a RAID 5 plus a hot spare. One drive dropped out and put the array in degraded mode, so the hot spare was brought in and the rebuild process started. Halfway through the rebuild, another drive failed, and obviously the whole array went with it.

            The second failure was transient, so after rebooting I had five functioning disks, but the array was hosed. Thanks to the e-mails mdadm had sent me during the failure and rebuild, I knew the EXACT order that the disks were in prior to the start of the rebuild. I forcibly reconstructed the array from scratch, telling MD to treat the array as being in a valid degraded state no matter what the superblock said.

            The transient failure happened again during the second rebuild attempt.

            Since I didn't have backups of some of the data on the array, I crossed my fingers and tried again. This time it worked. I immediately dropped in a new drive, forced a failure on the one that had failed twice and breathed a profound sigh of relief when the rebuild completed successfully and my data all appeared to be intact.

            I decided then that RAID6 is a hugely superior solution over RAID5+hot spare, because a RAID6 array will survive a second failure while rebuilding the array onto a fresh drive.

        • by street struttin' (1249972) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:24AM (#24001335)
          With any of these RAID methods make sure you pay attention to your disk controllers as well. If you have a controller go out and all the disks on that controller go with it, what happens to your array? Things to keep in mind...
          • With any of these RAID methods make sure you pay attention to your disk controllers as well. If you have a controller go out and all the disks on that controller go with it, what happens to your array? Things to keep in mind...

            You're right. And having two or more controllers does not always help - unless you intelligently distribute your RAID elements across more than one bus. And don't forget to put your power supplies on separate circuit breakers, too.

      • by kabocox (199019) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:38AM (#24001601)

        I don't know why AC got modded troll... it's good advice. I built my file server as raid5 and am regretting it. It's the most economical, and you do get some redundancy.. but if I had to do it all over again, I'd totally go raid10.

        With Raid5 .. two drives fail and your done. Unless you buy every drive at a different time from a different manufacturer, chances are under the same wear conditions, two will fail around the same time. With a raid10 .. you put all one brand on one side, all of another brand on the other side... possibly on a separate controller. Raid10 can withstand a much larger failure... and you also get some serious performance++.

        My advice is that if you can't explain how raid5 will help you, then you most likely don't need it and should use raid10.
        Those that really need raid5 can explain how it is more cost effective over a given time span for them than raid10.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by turbidostato (878842)

        "I don't know why AC got modded troll..."

        It is not good advice, it only seems to. Let's see the typical home-grown near-site server, say three 500GB SATA disks on RAID5 for 1TB usable space. Now, go with RAID 1+0; that means you need four disks (that's 33% more money) to gain about 0.025% reliablity (over a conservative stimate that you are at 99.9% no disk will fail in 3 years, but if one fails you are 10% sure another one will fail within next week -but you must consider that if the one that fails is on

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drsmithy (35869)

          Now: for the same dollars go with RAID5+Hot spare: [...]

          Or use RAID6, giving you essentially the best of both worlds.

          Personally, I wouldn't touch RAID5 with big SATA drives with a 10 foot pole. Drives tend to go around the same time and if your second drive goes during the rebuild (which I've seen happen on several occasions) then your data is toast.

          There are three types of RAID levels worth considering today. RAID6 if you need space more than speed, RAID10 if you need speed more than space, and RAID1

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Amouth (879122)

      raid 10 is a waist of disks and power

      raid6 is the way to go

    • by digitalderbs (718388) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:24AM (#24001325)
      Just to add a bit of information to this post. I believe the RAID mode this poster is talking about is indeed RAID 10 and not RAID 1+0 or 0+1 -- stripped mirrors or mirrored stripes. This new RAID mode is supported by the linux md driver.

      Linux MD RAID 10 driver page. [unsw.edu.au]

      This RAID mode does not require an even number of discs. My understanding is that writes are much faster with RAID 10 than RAID 5 because parity checks are not necessary. However, this RAID10 mode gives you only half of your total RAID size, and RAID 5 gives you your total RAID size minus one drive in capacity.

      Some useful, more detailed (and likely more accurate) information [wikipedia.org]

      Some performance comparison results [blogspot.com] to RAID 5. It would appear that the read performance is close to RAID 0, and the write performance is close to RAID 0 divided by two -- because every write has to be done twice. Furthermore, RAID10 can be more robust for drive failure.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:29AM (#24001439)

      As a person who's suffered a RAID-5 failure and dealt with the poor performance I can say that RAID-10 is significantly
      better performance and significantly better reliability that is well worth it.

      RAID is just a reliability mechanism. It's not backups. Any NAS solution you look at should have a way to back up part of it, and many do.

      RAID5 is acceptable IF you regularly scrub the array AND you don't have too many devices in the RAID set, because it is designed to tolerate one disk failure. RAID6 in a 4-5 drive configuration should be plenty safe in quantities most people would use for home NAS's.

      RAID10 does offer much better performance, but the performance increase would be largely wasted in the home market. If you're watching video, anything over a couple megabytes a second just helps with seek performance (802.11N is just about perfect for most movie and TV "rips", for example- 802.11g is doable), and when you're uploading or downloading media, anything beyond the speed of local disk is also pointless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CharlieHedlin (102121)

        Agreed. At BEST raid protects against some (most common) hardware failures, but it doesn't protect against ANY software or user failures.

        And you are still vulnerable to fire, flood, lightning, or anything else that can take out the entire array at once.

        Never let RAID replace backups. NEVER!

        We use RAID 10 extensively on our main server, but we need every bit of both write and read performance for the database. We have 12 smaller drives in order to get the most IO operations per second.

      • RAID != RELIABLE (Score:4, Informative)

        by computersareevil (244846) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:59PM (#24003087)

        RAID is just a reliability mechanism

        No, it is not.

        Repeat after me: RAID is for high availability, not high reliability.

        If you want your data to always be available, you want backups, incremental backups, distributed chronologically and geographically.

        If you want your data to be constantly be instantly available, then RAID is what you want. You still need backups to assure the data will always be available.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pyite69 (463042)

        I don't want to nitpick too much, but RAID 5 is faster for most garden variety storage needs, and for any sort of read access. Obviously you would never want to use it for a database or a swap file if you can avoid it - it is much slower any time you are writing out data in sizes that are smaller than the block size (and some controllers just suck, too).

        I prefer RAID 10 though, but not for performance. And of course you must remember that RAID helps with failover, not backups.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:40AM (#24001653)

      As a person who's suffered a RAID-5 failure and dealt with the poor performance I can say that RAID-10 is significantly better performance and significantly better reliability that is well worth it.

      My RAID controller goes up to 11.

  • by dtremblay (700638) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:38AM (#24000355) Homepage
    I've got the WD MyBook WE 2 TB drive a few weeks ago. I haven't installed any of the MioNet software on my computer because I heard complaints about it. I've got it set up in RAID 1 mode (mode 5 needs a lot more drives). Performance is good so far. Powere consumption is around 20W, as opposed to a desktop PC at around 150W. Since it's running OpenLinux, I was able to add SSH and do more configuration of the SMB server this way. The linux partition is 2 GB; the Arm processor is somewhat underpowered for most other applications.
    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:45AM (#24000521)

      I've got it set up in RAID 1 mode (mode 5 needs a lot more drives).

      Sure, if by "a lot" you mean 1

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      That's interesting to hear that you think the performance is good - The ratings of that drive on NewEgg are abysmal mainly due to performance issues, average ratings of 2-3 eggs!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pla (258480)
      I've got the WD MyBook WE 2 TB drive a few weeks ago.

      I'd second this as a great option for a standalone hardware solution that costs only a hair more than the bare drives themselves.

      The MBWE's have a thriving "enthusiast" community as well, so you can pretty much mod it to do anything from the intended use to making your toast in the morning. Just throw away the Windows-side software it comes with, which reduces performance for the purpose of limiting your rights. Yeah, suuuuuure...


      One warning abo
  • Build Your Own (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:38AM (#24000359)

    Using Solaris Express with ZFS. There is an extensive set of articles on how to do this at Simon's blog http://breden.org.uk/ [breden.org.uk]

  • ReadyNAS NV+ (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrgreenfur (685860) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:40AM (#24000397)
    Since you didn't really say much about other requirements, I'll recommend the NV+. I just got one on ebay and it's awesome. It just works. Shows up on the network immediately, has lots of blinking lights and a nice web config interface. 4 bays expand up to 4TB. Plus, it's a shoebox and not a gigantic 4U rack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      I'll recommend the NV+. ... 4 bays expand up to 4TB.

      Is there any practical reason why the hardware is limited to 4 x 1 TB?
      Would it have cost them extra to code in support for 4 x 2 TB?

      • Re:ReadyNAS NV+ (Score:5, Informative)

        by pyite (140350) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:09AM (#24000999)

        Is there any practical reason why the hardware is limited to 4 x 1 TB?

        This used to be true. The new code version (free upgrade) supports volumes up to 64 TB. See here [readynas.com]. From that page,

        With RAIDiator 3, you were limited to a data volume of 2 terabytes. With four 750 GB drives, accounting for RAID and other overhead, you're roughly at 2 TB. However, with the latest 1 TB drives, usable space with 4 drives are around 2.8 TB, so you'll need RAIDiator 4 to take advantage of that extra space. RAIDiator 4 supports up to 64 TB, so you will be happy to know that your investment will be good for quite a number of years, especially with the way the ReadyNAS capacity is able to grow with X-RAID.

      • Re:ReadyNAS NV+ (Score:4, Informative)

        by Snover (469130) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:15AM (#24001113) Homepage

        Using 32-bit unsigned integers gives a maximum of 4GB of addressable space. It had been 2GB until their recent firmware update. Also, there are no disks larger than 1TB currently on the market, so 4TB is also a practical limit.

  • by scsirob (246572) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:40AM (#24000411)

    ... then you will end up with another Linux box. Not necessarily bad, but NAS devices in your range are what you already have. Just packaged a bit nicer, with a customised web gui.

    • by millia (35740) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:54AM (#24000701) Homepage

      And it should be noted there are still plenty of IDE drives out there in the larger sizes. If you really want to go with SATA, then get an adapter card.

      Lack of performance? Not an issue, since I've yet to see a NAS that- at the lower end pricewise- was competitive in this regard, anyway.

      Or, keep the server, and drop in a new $100 mobo/chip combo that allows for better power management. Regardless, I've found things are much better with a home server than they ever were with a NAS, and my DNS, DHCP, Samba all work better, plus I now can run squeezebox.

      Having just seen terabyte drives at $169ish this past weekend, the flexibility of adding storage also makes it a better solution, too.

      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:46AM (#24001765) Journal

        DO NOT get a SATA card, unless you're putting it on a very fast (high speed) bus. A regular PCI bus is too slow.

        I've found that MOBO's with SATA Raid on board are better performing and cheaper than separate MOBO and PCIe SATA Raid, but there are features on the PCIe SATA RAID controllers that many people might want.

        ASUS makes a couple of MOBOs with SATA RAID, that I've found very good. I really like the NVIDIA SATA RAID setup on this board [tigerdirect.com]. Though you may be able to find a similar board cheaper somewhere else.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:41AM (#24000425)

    .. but unfortunately all the pre-built NAS cubes I`ve seen are way over priced. They usually end up costing about as much as a home built file server _without_ the drives.

    The way I look at it, by building your own, at least you can also use it for other things (if it's just a personal file server). I have a 3 TB file server that I also host virtual machines on. Even in software raid, with many drives, there is not much resource usage. If you buy a NAS cube, you are paying the same price or higher, and _just_ getting a file server.

    • by tgd (2822) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:46AM (#24000543)

      The price difference may disappear quickly with the difference in power usage.

      According to my Kill-A-Watt, my old NAS box (old P4 desktop with two 750 gig SATA drives) costs me almost $20 a month in electricity more than those two drives in a USB enclosure hanging off my Airport Extreme.

      When I was using a rack-mount HP server, it was costing me twice that!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        My new NAS box uses less. But then I used a Via based board that uses 5W of power.

        Honestly, build a freeNAS right and you get a cube AND low power use. My old Netgear NAS worked as a space heater and used 120Watts of power.

        Cripes motherboards with a 1Ghz C7 processor are dirt cheap, stuff it in a cheap cube PC case and shoehorn in 4 drives and you are golden.

      • by SydShamino (547793) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:37AM (#24001587)

        I was looking to buy a NAS device earlier this year, to replace an aging machine running Ubuntu acting as a file server only.

        Every device I read reviews for had the same problem. The drives are never spun down, so they consume way, way too much power and die a premature death.

        I want a device that can go into low-power standby after 30 minutes of non-use and wake on any LAN event. I just can't find anything out there capable of this.

        Device needs to support Samba or another cross-platform utility. It needs to be able to interact with OSX / XP / Ubuntu desktops.

  • Drool over Drobo (Score:4, Informative)

    by mlawrence (1094477) <martin.martinlawrence@ca> on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:42AM (#24000443) Homepage
    http://www.drobo.com/ [drobo.com] Automatic RAID, hot-swappable and you can use any type/size/configuration of SATA drives. Upgrade as the price of drives go down. I've been using one for two months now and am very happy with it. I can watch a streaming movie while I yank out an 80GB to replace with a 500GB, and the movie doesn't even stutter once.
    • Re:Drool over Drobo (Score:4, Informative)

      by bchirhart (1317045) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:32PM (#24002629)
      Yea - I LOVE my Drobo. I know there are cool, hackable, low power, Linux/unix/mac/x-box, low cost, 64 TB, non-corporate-establishment options out there... but this is my data. My family pictures, movies, 1200 CD's blahblahblah... It was well worth it to buy something that I COULD NOT SCREW UP, and took longer to get out of the box than it did to get up and running. Movies stream from it just fine - why would I need anything faster than that? Is it REALLY imperative that when I copy my data it happens at six million gig a sec? To take it a step further, I back up my Drobo to an online service. Talk about your slow speed! But again - this is my precious data and well worth it. You need to figure out what you are really using it for and how much you want to manage it. There is no managing with the Drobo.
  • I had an Infrant (now Netgear) ReadyNas. This is not the unit to buy. The processor is slow so it can't handly plugins very well without bogging down completely. Transfers are pretty slow compared to the compeditors. Its a nice little unit, but I'm much happier with the Windows Home Server I set up. Its much faster and more responsive. And I only put a Geode in the thing.

    Windows Home Server might not be your thing, but the ReadyNas definitely is not the one to buy.
  • Storage and backup are mutually exclusive requirements. RAID is about providing high availability to a storage system or about providing high performance. It doesn't keep your data any safer, since corruption is replicated immediately anyway.

    If you need storage, figure out how important speed is, and high availability. Hanging a USB drive off something like an Airport Extreme may be enough for you. If you need high availability, use mirrored drives unless speed REALLY isn't a factor (I've found that in virt

  • I bought the Intel D201GLY2A Motherboard with preinstalled Processor, a 1GB stick of ram, two serial ATA hard drives, then re-used an old computer case.
    Then I installed Ubuntu on it. I also installed BackupPC on it as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DJProtoss (589443)
      Good idea, but skip the D201GLY2A and get a D945GCLF instead - afact its the same board approach, but its the atom version so only ~2.5W and a proper intel mobo chipset instead of the via chipset on hte D201GLY2A for the same sort of money. Not that the D201 is bad ( I have one at home and its great ), but it seems the D945 should be a better choice.
  • DNS323 (Score:5, Informative)

    by VMaN (164134) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:43AM (#24000485) Homepage

    Get a d-link DNS323 and toss in 2x1TB drives, and you are set.

    The firmware hasn't really matured until now, with FTP/iTunes/samba server, and the latest addition is a torrent client, for all your 24/7 downloading needs.

    It's quite hackable, with an USB port for printer sharing, or storage with a bit of hacking.

    I had horrible firmware problems the first ½ year i had it, but now it's smooth sailing

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eakerin (633954)

      I just bought one of these, and I'm really happy with it so far. I have it setup as a shared drive for the computers in the house. It's embedded Linux, easily hackable (just drop a shell script in a specific location, and it starts running your own stuff on startup) So getting telnet access is quick, and there's a Debian port for the processor it runs, if you want more.

      With the 2-disk mirror I have setup, I get about 6MB/s write performance (not bad considering it's over SMB...), It supports gigabit, but

    • Re:DNS323 (Score:4, Informative)

      by giminy (94188) on Monday June 30, 2008 @12:02PM (#24002073) Homepage Journal

      I've said it before, I'll say it again: the DNS-323 sucks. I have one.

      - It uses ext2 filesystem, which isn't great
      - Its ability to rebuild a raid-1 array is questionable (lots of people have reported the device 'Doing the Wrong Thing' when they slap in a new drive)
      - Its ability to deal with unicode characters on the filesystem sucks, even with the latest 1.04 firmware
      - The device has a tendency to pretend that it wrote a file when it actually failed. This is most noticeable when I copy huge directories that contain many thousands of small files (e.g. doing rsync backups). This failure occurs chiefly over the SMB server provided, and still occurs in the 1.04 firmware (so it could be a filesystem problem?). It has happened to me recently when running rsync from the DNS-323 to sync up to a remote machine over ssh, so I'm not 100% sure that this a samba problem...
      - There are quality control issues in the hardware (the leds tend to fail, often the ones that tell you that your hard drive has failed)
      - You cannot load your own firmware on the device to fix any of the problems that I've mentioned, without soldering a serial port onto the mainboard
      - D-Link support sucks

      It has been about two years since D-Link released the thing, and it still isn't right. I don't think that they have enough incentive to fix the problems that it has, which is funny because all of the problems are already fixed in the latest versions of the open source software that they use. I'd really like them to just make us able to load our own firmware on the device easily, as that would allow me to fix all the troubles. Anyway, I'd stay away from this one unless you want to play with a soldering iron.

      Reid

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by B3ryllium (571199)

      Word - the new firmware with the BT client is *awesome*. About all I could ask for now is some sort of linux/web-based clone of TVersity so I could stream directly from the DNS-323 to my XBox 360, instead of using my XP PC + TVersity as an intermediary.

      (The onboard uPnP server doesn't seem to act as an XBox 360-compatible media server. Go figure.)

  • by rtilghman (736281) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:45AM (#24000517)

    I've been using an old desktop with large HDs for years, always looking for that perfect, small NAS with minimal RAID that I could put in a corner. Unfortunately I was always frustrated since the majrotity of units were directed at business and ran over $1k (that's just too much to pay when a desktop is so cheap).

    However, recently there has been a real surge in the market, with a number of more home directed products available. These often include streaming services, in some instances are OSS friendly or even hackable, and have small form factors with RAID1 or RAID5.

    The best reviews I've found are at SmallNetBuilder.com... very thorough, always show the boards, etc. The best units I've found (or at least the ones that look the most interesting for my needs) are the following:

    Synology DS207+
    Looks like a great unit, with lots of control over the drives (RAID0, RAID1, and other drive configurations). However, it's a little pricey for a BYOD NAS ($350+). The support for NFS in external USB drives is nice, and the reviews are excellent. The fact that it doesn't have slimserver support (or not natively) is another weakness... I've been eyeing adding a squeezebox or other player to my stereo, and would like the option. One thing I can't figure out... is it worth going with the "+" unit, or is the old 207 adequate? It's a lot cheaper...

    Netgear ReadyNAS Duo
    This is obviously the most expensive option, and is about on par with the Synology unit from a performance perspective. I like the fact that it has Slimserver as a native option... seems very well rounded. Also has internal NFS support, which both the other units lacked. Negative seems to the weak photo sharing app (requiring a local install) and the lack of drive controls (RAIDX being the only option). The fact that the 1TB unit costs $600+ also sucks (that's with just 1 1tb drive)... I want a 1 terabyte x2 setup, and I can get a nice 1TB drive for a hell of a lot less than the $275+ (that's the difference between the 500gb and 1tb versions of this sucker). Basically means the 1 drive is a throw-away for me, which I have a hard time swallowing...

    Hard choice to make... but I think I'm going to go with the Synology and two 1tb WD caviar drives I can get for $160. Total cost around $650... a little more than I wanted to spend, but this should be good for years to come.

    -rt

    • Follow-up... (Score:3, Informative)

      by rtilghman (736281)


      To reply directly to your reqs (kind of lost track of the thread there) both manfacturers have other versions of those drives that are RAID5 (the NV+ line from Netgear, other Synology units).

      As for services, both can be used as FTP servers, web servers, or anything else (I think both are LAMP, I know the Synology is). The Syn unit also supports bittorrent natively.

      -rt

  • ReadyNAS (Score:5, Informative)

    by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:52AM (#24000647)

    Netgear's ReadyNAS line of products (originally made by a small outfit called Infrant before Netgear bought them out) strikes the best mix of NAS characteristics outside of rolling your own.

    The RND4000 retails for $900 diskless, although you can occasionally find it a bit cheaper. It has four SATA inputs and uses a "drive cage"-style design to eliminate wires and allow for hot-swap; it's 9" x 8" x 5". It has gigabit ethernet interface and 3 USB ports. You can set it up as a print server, interface to a UPS, set it up to auto-copy out to a USB HDD on a particular schedule, or set it to auto-copy in from USB flash card/drive to a particular partition.

    All the interface is web-based, and in addition to the usual NAS features it supports FTP and HTTP sharing of files, Active directory integration (if that floats your boat), user quotas, and other fun little stuff. The system supports automatic power-on and -off at scheduled times, a journaled file system, and spin-down of drives when not in use. My model states that it uses 60W spun down and 130W at full tilt.

    It supports RAID-5 and a RAID 5-based system that Netgear/Infrant call X-RAID. X-RAID allows for dynamic expansion of capacity, which is a very nice selling point in a NAS box. Got 4x250GB drives and want to upgrade to 4x750GB? Just pull one drive at a time, wait for rebuild, and repeat until all four have been replaced. Netgear/Infrant has never gone into the specifics of how it's done, but I'm guessing the drives are partitioned and the partitions are then RAIDed to ensure drive-level failure can't cause a problem. I know I've seen people do the same thing in software on x86 machines (in LVM, maybe?), so I'd guess that's what they're up to.

    I have an older Infrant ReadyNAS (the X6 ver. 2 model), and have been very pleased with it. I have heard grumbling that after the Netgear buyout the support channels have gotten a little more irritating. I haven't personally had to deal with it, so I can't vouch either way, but I do notice that the latest system update (which had been in beta a few months ago when I checked) is now listed as a proper release on their downloads section, so they appear to be maintaining the normal release schedule.

    You will hear some /.ers recommend rolling your own, and they'll definitely have good arguments. $900 diskless goes a long way in small, quiet, cool PC gear. If you want a NAS system, though, I've found this to be one of the best mixes of features (particularly the dynamic expansion) available short of a full-on PC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Netgear's ReadyNAS line of products (originally made by a small outfit called Infrant before Netgear bought them out) strikes the best mix of NAS characteristics outside of rolling your own.

      The RND4000 retails for $900 diskless, although you can occasionally find it a bit cheaper. It has four SATA inputs and uses a "drive cage"-style design to eliminate wires and allow for hot-swap; it's 9" x 8" x 5". It has gigabit ethernet interface and 3 USB ports. You can set it up as a print server, interface to a UPS, set it up to auto-copy out to a USB HDD on a particular schedule, or set it to auto-copy in from USB flash card/drive to a particular partition.

      All the interface is web-based, and in addition to the usual NAS features it supports FTP and HTTP sharing of files, Active directory integration (if that floats your boat), user quotas, and other fun little stuff. The system supports automatic power-on and -off at scheduled times, a journaled file system, and spin-down of drives when not in use. My model states that it uses 60W spun down and 130W at full tilt.

      It supports RAID-5 and a RAID 5-based system that Netgear/Infrant call X-RAID. X-RAID allows for dynamic expansion of capacity, which is a very nice selling point in a NAS box. Got 4x250GB drives and want to upgrade to 4x750GB? Just pull one drive at a time, wait for rebuild, and repeat until all four have been replaced. Netgear/Infrant has never gone into the specifics of how it's done, but I'm guessing the drives are partitioned and the partitions are then RAIDed to ensure drive-level failure can't cause a problem. I know I've seen people do the same thing in software on x86 machines (in LVM, maybe?), so I'd guess that's what they're up to.

      I have an older Infrant ReadyNAS (the X6 ver. 2 model), and have been very pleased with it. I have heard grumbling that after the Netgear buyout the support channels have gotten a little more irritating. I haven't personally had to deal with it, so I can't vouch either way, but I do notice that the latest system update (which had been in beta a few months ago when I checked) is now listed as a proper release on their downloads section, so they appear to be maintaining the normal release schedule.

      You will hear some /.ers recommend rolling your own, and they'll definitely have good arguments. $900 diskless goes a long way in small, quiet, cool PC gear. If you want a NAS system, though, I've found this to be one of the best mixes of features (particularly the dynamic expansion) available short of a full-on PC.

      We use these at work for secondary backup systems and as file servers for small offices. They are fast as they are one of the few that has hardware raid controllers rather than doing it with the OS. No complaints other than they cost a bit more but you are getting what you pay for.

      After using others that do the raid in software I would never go back to that.

    • by PseudoThink (576121) on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:08PM (#24003261)

      I did a ton of research on consumer NAS devices about six months ago, and eventually settled on the ReadyNAS NV+. The Qnap TS-409 and other similar devices were very tempting due to their extra features and lower cost, but their user communities seemed much smaller than Infrant's, and also seemed to report more problems with their devices. I didn't want to mess with "public beta" storage hardware, so I got a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ RND4250 from eAegis.com for $975, before shipping. eAegis.com had a promotion going on where they included a third 500 GB drive for free. All drives were new Seagate Barracuda ES drives, which are excellent drives. One arrived bad, (it was painfully slow, and I saw lots of SMART read/write errors in the ReadyNAS drive health report), and their great customer support helped me find the Netgear number I needed to call to get it replaced quickly.

      At the time I purchased it, Netgear was also running a promotion for a free Sony DV camcorder in return for the original UPC, which I redeemed, selling the camcorder on Craigslist for $150. In all, with the camcorder sale, it cost me a bit under $900 for my 1.5 TB ReadyNAS NV+. I've been extremely pleased with it for the past six months, I set it up with a RAID-1 array that performs scheduled incremental backups to the third disk each day, and monthly full backups. I chose RAID-1 so that if my ReadyNAS hardware fails, I can still mount the drives in my PC and get my data off them.

    • Re:ReadyNAS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Fallon (33975) <Devin.Noel@Gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday June 30, 2008 @02:12PM (#24004409) Homepage Journal
      I've got a ReadyNAS NV+ (formerly Infrant, now Netgear) and really like it. I'll happily recommend it to anybody. Prices after the Netgear buyout went up a bit, but it's still a decent option if you can afford it.

      Their forums have lots of good technical moderators who interact a lot. It runs Linux under the hood, and they will happily tell you how to tweak things that can't really be officially supported. Netgear hasn't seemed to mess up the good support and online community Infrant got started from what I can tell.

      I had the power supply die, and they RMA'd it quickly. When I got the replacement back I had some issues with getting it to recognize my old disks (OS version for the new NAS was lower than the one from the old NAS, and you need the disks in the NAS when you upgrade it as things get written to flash and the disks).

      It's very quite and doesn't use nearly as much juice as a real PC, and can be officially or unofficial setup to serve HTTP, SSH, pull BitTorrent, serve streaming media & piles of other stuff.
  • I like the buffalo (Score:4, Informative)

    by skiflyer (716312) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:52AM (#24000649)

    I used to set up my own linux fileservers... then someone else asked me to do one for them, then someone else... and so on.

    So I bought a couple of the Buffalo NAS TeraStations. Slightly pricier, but worth their weight in gold for 5 second configuration.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by joecasanova (1253876)

      I'm having hiccup problems with my Buffalo Pro II Rackmount... VMWare doesn't like accessing VMDK's off of the NAS because it apparently hiccups every 1 to 5 hours, which dumps VMWare to the floor. That and the speed degrades over the course of several weeks and I have to bounce the box. And thirdly, Apache on another box won't even start if a path to a share on the buffalo is referenced in the .conf file... and the apache box has full rights to the share and the NAS... I triple checked and had 3 buddies

  • SmallNetBuilder.com (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:55AM (#24000723)

    See www.smallnetbuilder.com. They review NAS devices regularly. As well, they have a set of NAS charts with benchmarks.

  • by Bandman (86149) <bandmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:09AM (#24000995) Homepage

    Let me say this, as someone who runs a small network which has something like 10TB of total storage, don't use a NAS device if you want anything more complex than a samba server with (probably) no security. Use a server with either attached storage, internal storage, or SAN storage.

    NAS devices suck. Either that administration is tedious and incomplete or nearly nonexistent.

    Are you hoping that your NFS permissions work right? They won't, at least without massive configuration on your part. Are you relying on the data always being available? It won't be, because even the semi-expensive ones use junk hardware. Wanting high availability solutions? Don't even think about a NAS device. Most of them don't have hot-swappable power supplies, hard drives, or anything else.

    They're essentially toys, overpriced, underpowered, hard to configure toys that break far too often.

    Use a dedicated fileserver. Do yourself a favor. I've got 2 snap machines (one with expanded storage), an IOMega StorCenter, and they're all crap. The other one's I've investigated are crap. Use a real machine.

  • Synology CS-407 (Score:5, Informative)

    by De Lemming (227104) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:14AM (#24001095) Homepage

    I heard a lot of good from friends of mine about the Synology Cube Station CS407 [synology.com], and that's the one I have on order now. I like the fact it's expandable, I'm e.g. planning to run a Squeezebox server [oinkzwurgl.org] on it. It has good support, and a large user community.

    Others I heard about: Intel SS4200-E [intel.com] (Helena Island). It exists in two versions, one with an embedded OS on a flash and one without any soft. The one with software included has not that much possibilities and is not expandable, it's in the category "it just works." For the other version, I heard installing Linux or Windows Home Server on it is a PITA...

    The ReadyNAS [netgear.com] by Infrant (recently bought by Netgear) also gets good comments.

  • What about UnRAID? (Score:3, Informative)

    by airjrdn (681898) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:54AM (#24001897) Homepage
    http://lime-technology.com/ [lime-technology.com] offers UnRAID which looks very interesting. There's even a free version to try. To me, it's not just that you need X amount of storage, it's also about growth. What seems like a lot now, won't be a lot in a couple of years.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:09PM (#24003303) Homepage

    Since you're already familiar with PC-based NAS, I'd suggest staying away from turn-key products. I personally find them all overpriced, feature-stripped and they can even be fussy about the brand and model of drives you use.

    What I would suggest is building a cheap, quiet, low-power PC in a smaller chassis. You could use something like an Atom CPU and board, or an Intel E1200 with either a 945GC board or an NForce 610. I've built some potent desktops using the 610, consuming 40-45w idle, 60w peak. If you underclock the CPU, you can probably drop even lower. The low heat output also means you can get away with a tiny chassis.

    RAID5 is going to kill your performance, no matter what kind of CPU you have. Don't expect much above 20-30mb/sec unless you spend a zillion dollars on a hardware-accelerated RAID controller. With the low cost of hard drives, I've switched over to RAID1+0 setups, which deliver high speed at the cost of 50% overhead. With today's prices, that means each TB of RAID1 costs roughly $320. One thing I've been meaning to try is RAIF, filesystem-level RAID-like striping/parity. RAIF allows certain files (or directories) to be mirrored for safety, while less important files can be singly stored to maximize capacity.

    If you choose carefully, you could end up with a near-silent, face-melting NAS. Myself, I run it as a combined firewall/NAT, NAS, print server and MP3 jukebox. Not bad for a $150 PC (excluding disks).

  • by mauriceh (3721) <maurice@@@harddata...com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @01:32PM (#24003685) Homepage

    It all comes down to what performance level you want and what budget you have.
    Generally using a good RAID card in a modern PC, with an external enclosure will give by far the best performance.
    This also has the benefit of allowing you to choose what software you are running.
    It also means you are not tied to a manufacturer of a standalone NAS solution for updates and bug fixes.
    Also beware, as a number of NAS manufacturers have used GPL software and have obviously violated GPL.

  • by davide marney (231845) <davide,marney&netmedia,org> on Monday June 30, 2008 @02:06PM (#24004299) Journal

    One aspect of the Synology product line that separates it from the competition is their software strategy.

    The only differences between any two Synology products is the hardware. The firmware is the same for all products. You get the same platform, the same services, and applications, but they just handle more data or run faster, depending on the hardware choice. I really like that I just pay for scale. There are no "kiddie" versions of the software.

    The OS is Linux (busybox), so it's very familiar. Busybox cannot be extended as endlessly as a traditional distro, but the company includes a pretty complete set of utilities, a full LAMP stack, and an impressive collection of applications. Documentation is good, including a nice integration guide for integrating your own apps with the device (http://www.synology.com/enu/support/3rd-party_application_integration.php )

    All in all, it was their vision of a NAS device as a no-excuses, true server platform for my content that won me over.

  • Thecus Line (Score:3, Informative)

    by dlapine (131282) <dlapine@ncs[ ]iuc.edu ['a.u' in gap]> on Monday June 30, 2008 @02:06PM (#24004303) Homepage

    Sounds like you want a NAS unit with capabilities for a Small Office, Home Office (SOHO). Strangely, I find no mention of the Thecus line of NAS units. http://www.thecus.com/ [thecus.com] These would be worth investigating. I personally run the thecus N5200, and two of my clients run the N5200 PRO's. The N5200 series are the only SOHO NAS units with 5 available slots and raid 5.

    One of my clients has a ReadyNAS, so I've had the opportunity to compare all 3 units directly. Note that this unit wasn't a ReadyNAS+, but from what I've read, there's been no increase in speed. The largest difference is speed of file serving, although the web-based configuration is a factor as well. The Thecus blows the ReadyNAS out of the water. ReadyNAS gets about 10MB/s on a good day, and the Thecus N5200Pro units approach 30 MB/s. My older N5200 unit does about 20MB/s over gige.

    Today's prices are even more convincing- The N5200PRO is available for about $750 at http://www.eaegis.com/ [eaegis.com], http://www.newegg.com/ [newegg.com] has the ReadyNAS+ for about $900.

    The N5200's have other advantages- 5 bays for instance. They also run linux, with the source for each model available at Thecus. They also have modules for special types of file serving, and you can even ssh to the box while it's running.

    Here's the thing. I fell into NAS because I needed more storage space at home, to hold all my business data. And system backups. And stuff. I started with a home-built linux server running samba, but quickly realized that stock linux raid fails in the areas of raid expansion (adding more drives) and raid migration (let's run raid 5, now that I have enough cash to actually buy 3 drives). You can migrate, but you have to put the data somewhere else while you're doing it. I wanted a simple box that would do those things for me. On my N5200 unit, I have personally migrated from raid 1 to raid 5, and expanded the raid from 250GB to 320 GB drives. I now have 5 drives, will be expanding the raid with 750's soon. That would be have rather painful on a simple linux based server. I don't know about Freenas, but the hardware it supports is rather limited. Same thing for a zfs solution, not to mention that I'd have run Solaris -yuch.

    If you're going to fully populate the unit from the start with the biggest drives available, raid migration and expansion won't mean much. The Thecus N5200PRO still wins as it's the only unit with 5 bays, so you get the full 4 TB's possible. That being said, the linux/freenas/zfs server options can be nice, because you'll have more control over your server, and can possibly be cheaper.

    The big point here is that raid is not backup. raid is high availability, and you'll need some way to back it up. What do I do? Well, since the raid is HA, all I need is simple windows box with raid 0 or spanning and a few drives. That's if I'm doing CIFS. It'd be a linux box and nfs if that were what all my home/office boxes were. As long as the Thecus or the backup is up, I'm good.

    Good luck on your search

  • Antec 900 (Score:4, Informative)

    by lucm (889690) on Monday June 30, 2008 @03:31PM (#24005577)

    Instead of a NAS, I use two Antec 900 cases with low-end pc. Each case can hold up to 9 HD (if you don't need an internal DVD), and the disks are located in 3-disk containers with a dedicated 120mm fan (yep, one fan for every 3 disks!). There is also a huge 200mm fan on top of the case and a 120mm on back. With all those fans the disks stay cool no matter how badly you ride them, and the fans can be set at the minimum speed; there is not much noise. Also there is 2xUSB and 1xfirewire ports on top of the case, which I use for the O/S.

    So in a single case (which is also quite the looker) you can get 9x500GB or even 9x1TB. Of course you need to find a mobo with enough SATA (or IDE if you prefer) connectors, but 2x SATA RAID 1 cards are cheap and reliable. And you also need a good PSU (I live and die by Antec!).

    I don't know where you live, but here in Canada this whole setup is quite cheap:
    -mobo+cpu+2GB DDR2: 225$
    -psu: 100$
    -SATA RAID cards (2): 50$
    -Antec 900: 125$
    -9x500GB HDs: 800$
    -USB stick (for the O/S): 20$

    So for less than 1500$ you get a 2.2TB fully redundant storage, on which you can connect using Samba, NFS or whatever protocol your Linux O/S supports. As for myself, I use iSCSI and LVM in my client PC to connect to my 2 Antec servers so my system is completely redundant.

    The only tricky part is to access the RAID cards from Linux, but even with no-name brands you can make it work with stock drivers and a good search engine...

  • by barcodez (580516) on Monday June 30, 2008 @03:54PM (#24006001)
    Don't buy one of these. The drives are non removable (voids warranty) and when it fails like mine did after 9 months they expect you to send it in for repair without take the drives out. As I have all my financial information on it there is no chance so now I have a very expensive door stop.

While money doesn't buy love, it puts you in a great bargaining position.

Working...