Standalone NAS recommendations?
January 19, 2008 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any recommendations for an off-the-shelf NAS that can handle at least 1TB and may be expanded as needed? Drobo, Buffalo TeraStation, etc.?

I want at least 1TB to start out, and ideally be able to add either more devices, or add hard drives to the enclosure. Any advice on the devices listed? This is strictly for media, but I'd like at least mirroring capability, and it needs to be able to handle HD data streams.

The setup I am envisioning runs data to my desktop which sees it as an attached network drive, and then the desktop pushes the media out as needed (I run both Vista Media Center and a SlimServer at the moment). Gigabit ethernet is running throughout, so no wireless.

Would any device do? Which is the most configurable, least maintenance? Any experience with the devices? Aessthetics don't matter, so the design of the box is irrelevant in this case (it is going into an unfinished basement).
posted by geoff. to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've had few problems with my ReadyNAS. A range of serial numbers in the NV/NV+ line had faulty PSUs, and mine was in that range, but I proactively swapped it without problem. That's something to be said - that Netgear would let me do that before it went, that is.

It's expandable with the "XRAID" proprietary setup, which is a downside if you want to migrate data. I think you might be able to convert that to RAID5 though.

I use mine with Roku Radio, XBMC, and Xbox 360 clients. I have Gigabit, 802.11n, and 802.11bg networks all talking to it in various ways. It's a tad slow but it's a consumer device and I didn't expect to be saturating a PCI Express bus or anything.

One recommendation I will give you is to use rsync (i.e. DeltaCopy for Windows) if you're moving large data around. Using Samba, etc., with any network storage is asking for large file transfers to fail halfway necessitating a complete re-transfer - especially on wireless, though you're not using that.

I still feel the ReadyNAS line is tops in this category in terms of reliability, performance, and expandability, even with cost in mind - it's a little pricier than most.
posted by kcm at 4:23 PM on January 19, 2008

Synology makes some highly rated NAS products out there.
posted by madh at 4:58 PM on January 19, 2008

Definitely seconding the ReadyNAS. The early X6 model I have has a few quirks to it, some stuttering when you push it's tiny little processor to the limit, but it's been rock solid since day 1.

For streaming to a small number of clients it's fine. If you need more speed than that (or if pure throughput is your goal) I'd say you'd get far more value for money by putting together a cheap home server and filling it with drives. Even a piddly Celeron will have far more grunt than the low-power chips in most NAS boxes, their value realy lies in their low power consumption, integrated setup and reliability IMO.
posted by Skorgu at 4:59 PM on January 19, 2008

I agree with kcm. I've only been using one for almost a month, but it is a fairly impressive piece of hardware. The speeds could be a little bit better (and I'm sure they'll be working on it, their forums are filled with people complaining about it after the latest firmware update).

It has a SlimServer on it and a media server (wizd). It can also act as an iTunes server (haven't touched that yet). It's running debian, so once you enable the SSH support on the device it is fairly flexible in terms of packages you can add.

I recommend it.
posted by purephase at 5:02 PM on January 19, 2008

I've got a Synology 106e attached to a Mac-only network (I chose it because it's one of the few NAS boxes that does AFP, which doesn't concern you). I use it mostly for backups. I've had a few hinky episodes where a backup directory got corrupted, though this may say more about my backup software than the hardware. Although it's possible to run a web server on this device (and it comes equipped out of the box with Apache, a photo gallery, and an iTunes [daapd] server), I've found it to be underpowered for some of these tasks (I did get LAMP running on it, and installed Wordpress to do some theme development, but running it was like swimming through molasses).

You might want to check out Small Net Builder, which has lots of thorough NAS reviews.

If you've got the scratch, you might want to get a device that houses two disks so that you can run a RAID-1.
posted by adamrice at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2008

posted by mmdei at 5:09 PM on January 19, 2008

I've use both a Synology 406e and a ReadyNAS NV+, and the ReadyNAS NV+ was the superior one; easier to install the drives, configure and set up. The Synology requires you to open the case to swap a drive; the trays on the READYNAS are hot-swappable. Both have been equally reliable; I ahven't had any major crashes on either device with at least 6 months of use. But the ReadyNAS NV+ feels to be the superior product, albeit at a higher price.
posted by baggers at 6:19 PM on January 19, 2008

We use the Thecus N5200 at work - 5 bays, with the option to use an eSATA drive as a 6th, hot swap and auto-rebuild, up to 5 TB (at least) in almost any RAID configuration you want PLUS an FTP server for remote access to data, if that's a desire. It does cost a bit more than a 'home' backup, but we've been running it 24/7 for 9 months without a single hiccup. It also serves as a print pass-thru with USB and DHCP server if you like.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:34 PM on January 19, 2008

Question for those running the ReadyNAS boxes: I noticed that NetGear has a few "special/limited edition" versions with 1GB RAM. Is the extra RAM worthwhile on this device? Is the RAM on these units soldered to the board, or can it be added later?
posted by mosk at 8:30 PM on January 19, 2008

We got a 1TB buffalo. Configuration was a little hokey and support is non-existent. We had a little trouble with active domain on our network - but once setup it has been reliable for the last year. We have another 2TB on the way, it is good cheap storage for us for non critical data.
posted by clarkie666 at 10:34 PM on January 19, 2008

The 1GB of ram is a standard pc2700 so-dimm. It's easy to install.
posted by mmdei at 11:08 PM on January 19, 2008

Response by poster: ReadyNAS it is. Wonderful comments, I just marked the first one best answer instead of every comment so it doesn't get cluttered.
posted by geoff. at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2008

Yes, get the 1GB RAM. It's really cheap these days and I anecdotally found about a 10% speedup on small file writes. I found about the same speedup using RAIDiator 4.x, though it's fairly new in its release cycle.
posted by kcm at 11:21 PM on January 20, 2008

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