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Old 11-24-2012, 11:22 AM
Comp625 Comp625 is offline
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Default Basic NAS: D-Link DNS 320 or ZyXEL NSA320?

I am a complete n00b when it comes to Network Attached Storage. However, the need for an entry-level NAS (or something like it) has arisen. My budget is about $100-$120 and I'll be attaching two 2TB hard drives (leaning towards Western Digital Green's). Here is what I am looking to do with a NAS setup:
  • Share photos and music between all computers & tablets inside home Wi-Fi network. I do Photoshop work, so transfer speeds for large RAW and JPEG files are important.
  • Most of my devices are Windows and Android based. However, girlfriend's an Apple person, so it NEEDS to be Macbook & iPad compatible. (Also, am I correct to understand that I would need to format the HDD's as EXT2/EXT3 -- the only way that the drives will be readable/writable in both Windows and Mac environments?)
  • Stream music to other computers/tablets/speakers around the house (something along the lines of DLNA, or DLNA itself). This is somewhat crucial since I am tinkering with a whole-house audio ideas.
  • Dabble in video streaming, but this is a super low priority since I don't really rip movies into MKVs.
I've looked into Western Digital's My Book Live series, or Seagate's GoFlex Home equivalent products, but there are SO MANY complaints about reliability with both brands that have turned me off.

I also have USB ports on my Asus rt-n56u router that I can make (basic) use of, but unless I am mistaken, this option does NOT allow me to setup a mirror for backup purposes. Also, transfer rate is limited from what I understand. The Asus does have an advantage in that it has an "AiCloud" feature which lets you access files remotely...not sure if I can easily do that with a traditional NAS setup.

My research has pointed me towards the D-Link DNS-320 or the ZyXEL NSA320. User reviews on Newegg and Amazon say that the ZyXEL has feature-rich firmware, is DLNA-compliant, and is "quiet like a mouse." Meanwhile, user reviews seem to indicate that D-Link's more recent firmwares have drastically improved the usability of their enclosure. For example, it emails you to notify of disk failure. The enclosure seems to be faster than ZyXEL's, but runs quite hot and it's loud.

What should I do? Any advice is most appreciated!!
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:55 AM
Comp625 Comp625 is offline
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Also, I have been contemplating this...

Couldn't I build an old computer using old parts, as opposed to buying a pre-made NAS box? Would an old computer running Win7 be OK or do I have to use Windows Home Server (which I hear is a bit of a nightmare to use)?

Ugh, so many questions. I'm such a n00b in the area of NAS, but I have built many PC's over the last couple decades. Very frustrating, haha.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:19 PM
JoeJoe JoeJoe is offline
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Both those units aren't going to be speed demons, but they will be reliable and not use too much power.

Don't have any DLink experience.
I have a Zyxel NSA221, cheap, works great, not fast, but reliable. The DLNA server works well.

A NAS is going to be a lot easier to use than an older PC, a LOT less power too.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:02 PM
stevech stevech is offline
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(Opinion disclaimer) ... Avoid Netgear, D-Link, Buffalo, IoMega, LG, LaCie, Seagate. Go Synology or QNAP, ZyXel is a distant 3rd. Look too at Thecus.
Base decision on features and ease of use after trying the on-line demos at the vendors' web sites. Speed won't be hugely different among the named products in the same price tier.

Feature set for a DIY won't come close to that of the above - again, do the on-line demos.

Last edited by stevech; 11-25-2012 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:28 PM
Comp625 Comp625 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevech View Post
(Opinion disclaimer) ... Avoid Netgear, D-Link, Buffalo, IoMega, LG, LaCie, Seagate. Go Synology or QNAP, ZyXel is a distant 3rd. Look too at Thecus.
Base decision on features and ease of use after trying the on-line demos at the vendors' web sites. Speed won't be hugely different among the named products in the same price tier.

Feature set for a DIY won't come close to that of the above - again, do the on-line demos.
Interesting! A lot of the opinions that I've stumbled on vouch for a DIY using FreeNAS - the only exception is to not use the Software RAID feature, and to implement a true hardware RAID controller. Additionally, many people say to avoid a pre-built NAS if possible (probably referring to the cheaply-made Buffalo's, Lacies, Seagates of the NAS world).

1. Can you elaborate on why using a pre-built NAS from a quality manufacturer (e.g. Synology) would be preferable?

2. If I were to do either a pre-built NAS or DIY, but continually backup the NAS onto the cloud (via "Crashplan"), would I still need a RAID mirror setup?
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:22 AM
stevech stevech is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post
Interesting! A lot of the opinions that I've stumbled on vouch for a DIY using FreeNAS - the only exception is to not use the Software RAID feature, and to implement a true hardware RAID controller. Additionally, many people say to avoid a pre-built NAS if possible (probably referring to the cheaply-made Buffalo's, Lacies, Seagates of the NAS world).

1. Can you elaborate on why using a pre-built NAS from a quality manufacturer (e.g. Synology) would be preferable?

2. If I were to do either a pre-built NAS or DIY, but continually backup the NAS onto the cloud (via "Crashplan"), would I still need a RAID mirror setup?
re (1)... In my case, I wanted a NAS that was easy to setup and forget, and with all the essential applications managed by simple web browser pages. Apps had to be of course file/folder storage with permissions, in-the-NAD Time Machine for n months of changes, extensive scheduled backup options, including targeting SD card for essentials, ext. USB3 for weekly backup of the backup of VIP folders, media server, FTP server, and so on. I tried FreeNAS and a couple of others; not even close.

re (2)... NAS backup to the cloud... is way too slow for those of us with 1Mbps upstream on cable modem, or less with DSL. And I just don't trust on-line backups... even if I encrypt before asking for an upload. Berserk or vindictive (ex-) employee is the greatest risk, I think. So I prefer USB3 or eSATA backups then keep those out of sight or offsite.

Re RAID: Opinion: use RAID if you buy 4+ drive NAS. A 2 bay is, IMO, best done with each drive as a separate volume. One is the backup for the other. Not mirroring, not RAID. Wholly independent file systems. This protects you from drive failure and file system corrupts. Time Machine lets you go back/get back. Ext. drive protects you from theft of NAS. "RAID is not a backup" is the mantra.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:27 AM
JoeJoe JoeJoe is offline
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see the review on this site.

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas/n...viewed?start=4
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:02 PM
stevech stevech is offline
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With all due respect... I think the reviews of home and SOHO NASes put way, way too much emphasis on which NAS brand is 15% faster than the other.

To me, assuming near equality, the key issue is robust NAS software, all the features you need/want/may-want, ease of use, and ability to forget-about-it.

Typical uses, accessing small files or streaming video/audio, the speed is not important as to whether it's 50MB/s or 90MB/s. And you have to move big, contiguous files (Gigabyte sized files) to reach those speeds.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:37 AM
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I agree.

My two Qnap and one Zyxel NAS units have been very reliable for what I use them for.
The Qnaps tend to start getting buggy when using the additional software packages such as Twonky and Surveillance Station, which have run the cpu to 100%.

I feel the NAS unit makers have starting making them 'too capable' which adds piles of bugs instead of making them do what they do best.
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:07 AM
stevech stevech is offline
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yes... my Synology runs this subset of features:
  • Web browser admin interface
  • file/folder sharing on the LAN for PCs and tablets... several folders/access permissions
  • Synology's Time Backup or Time Machine if you will. Keeps all versions of thousands of files as they changed in the last few months. Has saved my buns several times.
  • Backup to second internal volume (non-RAID)
  • Backup to external USB3 NTFS drive - every few days; then goes offsite
  • Backup key files to big SD card.
  • Push files to Amazon S3 (cheap)
  • FTP server occasionally opened to internet or run on non-standard port #
  • Auto-scheduled power off/on during non-use periods.

I don't use its capabilities for
  • web server ( I do that on a windows PC because I have a lot of asp coded server scripts)
  • DLNA server (no teens here)
  • video camera archiving (surveillance)
  • rSync/iSCSI across Internet
    and others I don't recall

I now put all PC files on the NAS and on the PCs, I run SSD boot disks and do not store data and static file like the download collections.
Used to have a big mpeg video collection (recorded from cable box), but that's no longer being done here.
I also copied all my data DVDs and CDs to the NAS and pitched the optical disks which were evermore in disarray.

Last edited by stevech; 11-29-2012 at 01:10 AM.
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