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IDC Predictions, NAS, Storage is still #$@#$

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Dec. 27th, 2007 | 03:56 pm

Today from Slashdot:
http://it.slashdot.org/it/07/12/27/1953245.shtml

From Boing Boing:
http://www.boingboing.net/2007/12/26/netgears-tiny-networ.html

First thing, 1TB drives are still too expensive. At around ~120 for a 500gig drive compared to ~$350 for a 1TB drive, bang for your buck still comes from buying 500gig drives.

For enclosures?

I like the concept of NAS, but the price point is not there. Netgear upped the price on the ReadyNas devices. The cost for one barebones is now around ~800. You can get cheaper NAS like what Synology (http://www.synology.com/enu/index.php) is selling.

My problem with Synology? They have "too much" for me. I just want storage. Their device has an embedded Apache/PHP/MySQL server. Interesting, but not what I am after. I just want storage (sure... disable it...). The box seems to be trying to do too much. With NAS I want the device to stick to basics.

Another option? Mac Mini plus USB drives. OSX has RAID software. I already have a spare one, and a drive enclosure for five drives sets me back around $250. Even if I didn't have the Mac Mini, the difference in cost between it and the Netgear makes the Mac Mini look attractive (though, it is a shame the Mac Mini lacks external SATA). The Mac Mini solution is tried and tested :)

And ATA over Ethernet? Coraid's stuff is still too damn expensive.

Finally I could build a linux box, and futz with it... but no, that sounds a bit too painful for me. I do not have the time, and do not want to find the time (...and I hear from others this is a bad solution if your girlfriend decides that it would be fun to pull out all of the drives from your enclosure and sort them for you).

So what will I do?
ReadyNAS -> Pay the premium, know it works.
Mac Mini -> Just buy another one, and get a drive enclosure.
Synology -> Trust in the unknown, and decide that I really am better off saving money (~300).

No sound easy conclusion for me on this one yet.

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Comments {13}

Lover of Ideas

(no subject)

from: omnifarious
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 01:13 am (UTC)
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I have two big problems with NAS. One a general problem, and one a fairly specific to me sort of problem.

The first problem is that there is no remote filesystem protocol that I think is worth a hill of beans. I use sshfs at home for some fairly limited sharing, but that wouldn't really work with a NAS device. The two biggest things they all fall down on are authentication and data security on the wire.

The second issue I have is that none of the NAS devices support data encryption. On most of my computers at home now, any data I consider in the least bit personal is encrypted. None of the NAS devices I've seen advertise even offer that feature. And that's a pity because they could make the encryption really fast with a few touches of specialized hardware.

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Tanjent

(no subject)

from: tanjent
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 06:46 am (UTC)
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You can create a Truecrypt drive on the network share and mount it locally - works fine.

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(no subject)

from: jamesd
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
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Linksys NSLU2 for $65 and a couple of USB drives and forget the problem. Or get keen and install one of the custom Linux distributions for it and turn off whatever you don't want.

If you want RAID 5 for a bit of protection the Synology CS407e for $520 or so seems reasonable with four internal bays and external USB drive support. Well, reasonable compared to some solutions - I'm not really keen on the price. Just the presumably reduced hassle factor.

Either locked away in a filing cabinet and connected to the outside world with a network cable if you have an employment contract that requires you to keep data locked away except while you're working on it - so that it's always locked away and you skip the hassle factor.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)
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I have a NSLU2. They sort of suck... through put is awful and if you want it to support anything beyond an old version of SAMBA you have to hack it.

Might as well just build a Linux box (which is a pain in the ass).

The Synology... I need to do more research on it. It looks to be good for the price.

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Been contemplating the same thing

from: tf23
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
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I have a ~1TB FS in my basement. I "built" it way back in 2003 (see So I'm buildin a fileserver). Over the years I've upgraded the drives a bit as other drives have become cheaper.

However, it draws a lot of power. Nowadays I could have two mirrored 1TB drives hanging off any machine and save quite a bit of electricity and complexity and still be able to store just as much information and have a full backup (that's off-siteable).

Luckily, it has been quite a few years (knocks on wood) since I've had any drive issues or raid issues or mother board/ram/NIC issues. It's been nice not to have to devote a whole afternoon (or more) to fixing the beast. So I know exactly what you mean when you say you dont want to deal with having to mess with things.

So I've been contemplating ebaying the entire setup and going with a Mac Mini w/ a few drives hanging off it. The NAS (and ethernet'd drive cages) have been catching my eye. But they all seem like big money.

One tip that has saved my bacon - I've been buying drives locally instead of mail order. There's a few shops that sell "bare" drives - they are just in a clear plastic case, along with drives that are in the full boxes. The trick is to read the warranty information for each drive. Sometimes those bare ones, which are generally cheaper, have a 3 year warranty, while the boxed ones will have one year. Then, 2 years down the road when one of the drives in the raid 5 array dies, well, I just file the support request and a new one's on the doorstep the next day.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: Been contemplating the same thing

from: krow
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
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For handing drives off will you use USB or Firewire?

This is the best case I have found thus far:
http://www.satagear.com/5X-DK2U2_SATA_Multi_Drive_Case.html

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Re: Been contemplating the same thing

from: tf23
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
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That's the problem with the Mac Mini (specs: http://www.apple.com/macmini/specs.html ). No fw800, no sata. No real way to add it, either.

I know supposedly USB 2 can be faster then fw400, but in real life w/ multiple USB devices in the chain, I've never seen it. So to answer your question, fw400.

Ideally I'd go with firewire 800. If they'd only upgrade the mini with it... or a SATA port that would be sweet.



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japerry

(no subject)

from: japerry
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 06:42 am (UTC)
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we were originally going to build a 10 drive USB/SATA NAS box, 5 internal drives, 5 usb drives. When we tried USB we found the transfer rates were so bad that we could only get decent transfer with SATA.

I also found most NAS boxes to be too expensive or complex to be very useful. So what I did was this:

Built a cheap AMD system (3500 / 939 chipset), 1GB ram, 4U case (65 bucks on newegg) -- Put in 10 (yes TEN) 500GB SATA drives, and one of the drives came with a SATA PCI card for 2 extra slots. (the motherboard had 8 onboard SATA)

I then installed Gentoo 2007 and put together all 10 drives with UnionFS. I don't really want RAID1 because the data isn't THAT important, and I didn't want RAID0 because I didn't want one disk to cause ALL my data to be lost. I then setup a storage folder that contained the raw access to the ext3 partitions that I organized, and created a SMB/NFS share called incoming to put my stuff in. Then on the server I can move stuff into organized folders and see them all appear as one drive through UnionFS. Installed the linux ethernet bonding driver and got trunking enabled for my dual GigE nics.

Not sure if this is the best thing to do for a 2 drive system, but finding a little embedded SATA device would be neat. If you're looking for bigger NAS, this might be a setup to look at.

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Tanjent

another option i've heard of

from: tanjent
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
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cheap old computer + VMWare Player + NAS virtual appliance.

I've been using a Buffalo Terastation for a few years now and it's been fine aside from mediocre bandwidth.

I've got an old 250 gig Buffalo Linkstation (single drive NAS) that you're welcome to have if you just need _something_, though it's not all that great.

-tanjent

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: another option i've heard of

from: krow
date: Dec. 28th, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the offer, but its too small :(

The terastations look a little expensive for their size.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

Re: another option i've heard of

from: krow
date: Dec. 29th, 2007 09:08 am (UTC)
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BTW Which NAS Virtual Appliance?

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Tanjent

Re: another option i've heard of

from: tanjent
date: Dec. 29th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
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I've heard good things about OpenFiler.

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