(February 17, 2008)
After so many years relying on a single storage source,
the internal drives of my computers, I finally gave-up
to the stress of potential data loss. My motivation
for an alternate storage solution actually increased
with the risk taken using RAID 0 technology on my home
destop to increase performance: 4 hard drives in parallel
= 4 times the chance to lose everything (see the RAID
Technologies page for more details).
is when the race to find an affordable and reliable
solution with good performances began ... good luck!
If you search for NAS (Network Area Storage) devices
on the Internet and read all related reviews you start
to wonder if anybody managed to build one that works!
I am not talking about multi-thousands of dollars EMC,
HP or SUN storage solution large enterprises are using
... I am talking about a less than $2,000 solution (and
preferably less than $1,000) to backup my home computers
and office laptop data. After many weeks searching I
fanally came to realize a few things:
people posting review understand storage. Their expectation
in terms of performances would scare an EMC rep (or
maybe he would try to recommend a fully loaded DMX
with the proper fiber channel backend!)
is a mix of performance reports without focus on the
related usage that may explain variations. LAN speed,
wireless versus wired, bare remote disk access versus
backup application disk access, RAID configuration,
etc. are all impacting the system performance.
NAS (too far South of $1,000) does not seems to be
available and working. I could not have tested them
but cross-referencing reviews from what seemed to
be knowledgable people often confirmed that fact.
are not that many solutions (specifically worth buying).
Searches return tons of systems but many are only
different configurations of the same system (number
of drives, size of drives, connectivity type, etc.
but same backend).
to go for then?
On the long road to decide how much you will spend for
what, all I can help with is my technology choice and
feedback on the solution. But before I detail my choice
here is what I was looking for:
of storage capacity
resiliency through RAID technology or equivalent
real NAS meaning accessible through the network (not
Firewire, USB or other host storage attachment solution)
dependant (no need for ill-developed CPU intensive
to support Microsoft remote network disks
support (with proper shutdown capability)
alarming through Email for failures or busted capacity
or environmental parameters
may sound like a lot of requirement for a home/small
office solution but guess what: we have the technology
(ironic)! If nobody released such a system on the market,
maybe I would have created one. Lets face it, if you
can pack what the best multimedia PC can do into an
iPhone but cannot even do a minimum of storage into
a gallon-size device ... something is wrong.
all that, I selected the NetGear (Infrant built) ReadyNAS
NV+ RND 4250 platform configured with X-RAID
and two 500GB hard drives. The price was slightly north
of the $1,000 I wanted to stay under but considering
the perfect match with my requirements I did not mind
spending the additional one to two hundred dollars.
Reviews were extremly positive compared to most other
NAS and after a few days online I must say that I am
really pleased. Among the things I like most are:
easy setup (well, if you have a good understanding
of technologies without being a Storage expert)
fairly intuitive web based configuration interface
with online help.
X-RAID technology that will make my life easy when
I expand to 3 and 4 hard drives.
seamless integration of the UPS (I bought an APC Back-UPS
XS 1500 ... review to come soon).
mini-screen on the front panel with useful information
when changes happen.
one of the desktop firewall that decided not to let
me authenticate for network hard drive remote access,
the rest of the integration into our home network was
seamless. We are obviouly not using wireless to perform
any large backup. I installed a wired connection to
allow us to plug-in for laptop data backups that are
so critical (you learn that after a few crashes and
only 60% of the data recovered for $1,500 by the recovery
resiliency, I did not change the configuration for the
more classic RAID 0, 1 or 5 offered by the system. I
am sure some people would argue that at least those
industry standards will not reserve any surprise but
in fact they do ... the day you need to expand of upgrade
your NAS (or the day you lose a hard drive with RAID
0). At least with X-RAID
I have the best of all world (but for the performance
of RAID 0 wich does not really matter for a NAS application).
As shown on the RAID Configuration table (right), X-RAID
will adapt itself when disks are added providing expanded
storage space while keeing resiliency.
if you have around $1,000 to spare for a storage solution,
the ReadyNAS may fit your profile. For lower cost alternative,
there are good products not really working like a NAS
that may be good. Remember though, whatever you decide,
if your storage solution does not offer data resiliency,
do not use it as the only storage source for your critical
data or you may lose it! It can only server as a backup
for the data you already have somewhere.
Good luck in your storage quest ...
ReadyNAS Direct & Remote Interfaces