What’s the best NAS right now?

As I mentioned earlier, my current network-attached storage (NAS) box took a hit in a power outage. This is what it looked like after I took it apart to swap in a new hard drive.

Buffalo Tech Terastation

So I’m looking for a new NAS. Price isn’t really a concern at all, but here’s stuff that I require:

  • Ability to hot-swap drives. My current NAS requires 22 screws (!) to replace a hard drive.
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • Anything can reach it (Linux/Mac/Windows)
  • Lots of drive bays (four at least)
  • Quiet and fast

Some stuff that would be nice:

  • Ability to accept hard drives of different sizes
  • Ability to work with a uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
  • Ability to email if there are issues
  • Lots of server potential (Sonos, Squeezebox, iTunes, DLNA, FTP server, printserver)
  • Ability to run linux or otherwise ssh in

Do you have a NAS that you’d recommend?

98 Responses to What’s the best NAS right now? (Leave a comment)

  1. Recommendations from others discussing the same problem – some are a little dated, but it is easy to check current versions:

    http://www.engadget.com/2005/11/10/ask-engadget-best-nas-for-home-use/
    http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS7179002391.html
    reviews.cnet.com/4370-6605_7-157-103.html

  2. Is price an object? Is there a budget? Or is meeting the spec and meeting it well the only thing that matters?

  3. You might want to consider the ReadyNAS NV+ from Infrant (although, the company has been purchased by Netgear). It’s worked fine for me, although some folks find the fan a bit noisy.

  4. I have a terraserver 2TB model although mine looks a lot different then yours. It is 1000mb and but I am disappointed with the networks speeds. I am interested to see what other people offer.

  5. I certainly understand how having a redundant array of independant drives that require a tme consuming swap could be a disadvantage to a busy man like yourself. However, I do agree with your choice of brands. Buffalo makes some excellent products and they are probably best known for their high performance high quality memory modules. The Japanese focus on value added quality products is always a big plus whenever designing, buying, or building a robust system.

    I noticed that you are currently using a buffalo terra station 1 TB home model. I would suggest an upgrade to the buffalo Terrastation Pro II wich supports a robust array of features . Some improvements include better network performance, RAID 5 Support ( and a multitude of other RAID levels), 2 USB 2.0 ports (to accomadate external HD backups), Active Directory integration, DFS support, Gigabit ethernet adapter, Heavy Duty Power Supply w/ cooling system, Quick Swap SATA hard drives, and a status LCD.

    Overall it seems like a very stable, durable, cost effective, and robust alternative to the time consuming 22 screw model you are or were using. In addition it comes in 1 TB ,2 TB ,3 TB, and 4 TB models.

  6. Dave (original)

    With technology being out-dated daily and money not being an issue, why not hire/lease and always have the latest and greatest?

  7. Matt-

    Here is what I am thinking of switching to. Its the Netgear RND4475 NV+. It has no fans and a speedy CPU and boasts 500mb sustained transfer rates. With those kinds of speeds it should pretty ideal for home for itunes sharing/video and stuff.

    The 2TB model is on newegg for 2500ish

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822329047

    3TB model is on amazon for 3700

    http://www.amazon.com/Netgear-RND4475-ReadyNAS-Gigabit-Desktop/dp/B000Z2HX30/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1200983703&sr=8-1

  8. I’ve been waiting for the right technology to come around for a home NAS solution for quite a while, but I’m thinking we aren’t quite there yet. I’ve never played with one of these Drobo units before, but I keep revisiting the specs. They recently added a DroboShare add-on that makes it network accessible and therefore much more interesting. I have a few photog friends who swear by it for their vast production work, but they aren’t as tech-y or as … demanding as I know I’d be, so I certainly can’t endorse it, but it might be something worth investigating.

  9. That Terra Server Pro looks quite nice – a bit beastly in its size – bet it sounds rather loud – so I would keep that in the basement somewhere :) They have the 1tb for like 999.00 which is ok.

    Your a geek have you thought about just rolling your own? Thats is what I am thinking about doing -

  10. I like the LaCie 2big Network a lot, specially the extra security offered by its RAID1 capabilities:
    http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=10955

  11. Chip

    Great question and one I’ve struggled over for the last 3 years. Take it from some one who has been down too many wrong roads to count, buy a server, not a NAS. Every single “NAS” (that’s hardware self labeled as a NAS) I’ve owned has had the WORST throughput, on the order of 15MBps if you’re lucky.

    What I ended up doing was buying two servers, one for our colo and one for my personal use in my basement. The one I have in my basement which handles all my media and working files is one I built using a Supermicro case. It has 7x750GB drives in it right now, and holds another 5. I put in a dual proc capable mobo, but only have ever needed the one proc. Total cost, not including drives was a little less than $800 with 4GB of RAM. Throughput is at least 120MB/s, as the only thing I can copy to is my main PC over dual gig.

    The one I bought for our co-lo is this:
    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06a/15351-15351-3328412-241644-241475-3232017.html
    This thing is great, louder than the Supermicro, but better built and a much better raid card than I use at home. 14 HD slots and dual gig ports.

    Just don’t buy it from HP.com :)

    Chip-

  12. If you are willing to put some time into it and build something (this is a one time thing) and willing to need the occasional administrative time (depends on how you configure it), the best solution to get everything you want and more is assembling your own server.

    I don’t need to tell you that with a software RAID and decent hardware you can get reasonable speed, ability to have different sizes of drives (or partitions in this case, which means you can even have an encrypted part if you want). If you system blows up you can easily move the drives to a different machine and they will simply work (if they are configured is raid auto detect).

    I’ve assembled my storage server (you can read about it here http://eran.sandler.co.il/2007/10/09/assembling-a-linux-based-home-storage-server/ ) and its running Ubuntu Server 7.10.

    It took about 30min to have it up and running including configuring it with NFS and Samba (so its accessible to all).

    I’ve used XFS as the RAID’s file system since I’ve read in several places that people were able to extend a live running RAID with additional space without a problem.

    The ingredients you’ll get will determine its quietness levels, power consumptions and amount of drives it can handle, but all in all its a relatively small investment but gives you maximum freedom.

  13. I’ve been looking at bit at NAS /boxes/ lately and thought I’d share my current personal favourite; QNap’s TS-209. Haven’t tried it, though I’ve read a lot good things about it. Actually it’s the first “box” that’s made me consider replacing a standard PC (running FreeNAS) as the NAS/fileserver in the house. It’s relatively expensive, though it offers far more functionality than just storage on the network. Personally I’d say the highlights are UPnP/DLNA (media server), fairly low power consumption and a BitTorrent client. Though other features include web-, database-, iTunes-, FTP- and print-server(s) as well as RAID-1 and hot-swap support. Only thing that has stopped me is the price (reatails for around $460 here in Norway)…

    TS-209; http://www.qnap.com/pro_detail_feature.asp?p_id=82
    Review; http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30181/75/

  14. Kevin Scott

    I hear good things about the Infrant/Netgear ReadyNAS NV+. I’m thinking about replacing my TeraStation with one real soon now. The power failure was not kind to me either. :-(

    http://www.infrant.com/products/products_details.php?name=ReadyNAS%20NVPlus

  15. I am told the Infrant NV+ is the thing to get these days; friends who have it are happy.

  16. Hi Matt
    Just read a review of RoboShare from Data Robotics. Looks to tick the majority of the boxes on your list – http://www.drobo.com/

  17. Daniel

    The Infrant ReadyNAS fulfills everything on your list. I’ve got one, and it’s been extremely reliable and powerful for me. I use it with my Mac and Windows machines, and it works with Linux. It also serves iTunes and does backups and SSH. My fan is a little loud, but I’ve heard they’ve quieted them down quite a bit recently.

  18. +1 for the Infrant ReadyNas NV+. I’ve run one with 4 750GB drives for over a year with no hassles. Access from linux, pc, mac:

    http://www.steve-lacey.com/blogarchives/2006/11/infrant_readyna.shtml

  19. Peter

    The Netgear ReadNAS are quite good. Up to 4 drives, 4TB and 5 years warranty help. Does CIFS/SMB/AFS/NFS/HTTP/FTP as well as slimserver, upnp and printing. oh and works with a UPS too.
    http://www.netgear.com/Products/Storage/ReadyNASNVPlus.aspx

  20. I should also say that it’s survived multiple power outages and kids pressing “the shiny blue button”…

  21. My NAS server setup -

    Normal Celeron Computer 1.7 Ghz + 512MB RAM
    80G x 3 – Software RAID – 5 as need to do lots of reading
    Supports NFS / FTP / Rsync / CIFS [MAC/Windows] / SFTP / SSH / Other protocols

    Software FreeNAS.org boots from USB pen – it just works out of box [TM]. – http://www.freenas.org/

    HTH

  22. Hi Matt,

    I’ve been looking at this lately:

    http://www.dlink.ca/products/?pid=509

    It has gigabit ethernet and formats to ext2 or ext3. It’s pretty small and should be quiet. Not sure if it’s too mickey mouse for your needs but one of them can hold two 1tb drives and you can configure raid 1 or 0. I thought it was a pretty cool solution. If you swap in a couple of Seagate ES.2 Barracuda hard drives, that’s pretty much all the security you’ll need for your backups. Well, maybe not you but it would be enough for my needs. Plus I’m thinking that I could connect two or three up if storage needs grow.

    Here is a review if you need.

    http://www.techworld.com/storage/reviews/index.cfm?reviewid=469

    The Dlink is hot swappable also. I think that takes care of most of your list. Good luck.

  23. travis lane

    I never thought a geek like myself would go for a “toy”, but I absolutely love my DROBO (now with gig-e).

    Pop in any drive, any size, anywhere and the storage robot just does it all for you. No thinking, no fuss, no problem. It’s not the object of geek lust, but it is liberating. Mac like simplicity, but better.

    http://drobo.com/products_demo.aspx

  24. Hi Matt,
    I bought a Drobo (drobo.com) a while back and I’m very happy with it. Especially the design :) It’s not a NAS but they released “Droboshare” a few weeks ago which makes one or two Drobos into a NAS.

    The only thing I can complain about is the price…

    //David

  25. Sorry. Missed your point about multiple drive bays. This might be more to your liking:
    http://www.intel.com/design/servers/storage/ss4000-E/

  26. Brian

    Have a look at the Thecus 5200 Pro, 5 bays, 4 screws per drive, but slide in trays, very easy. Hot swapping, multiple raid options, several modules for media servers and other things.

    I’ve recently set one up using the WD RE2 1TB enterprise grade drives.

    Apparently the earlier firmwares were a bit flakey but seems like things are ok now.

    http://www.thecus.com/products_over.php?cid=12&pid=32

    Some Reviews:
    http://www.virtual-hideout.net/reviews/Thecus_5200Pro/index.shtml
    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/29616/75/

    Forums:
    http://thecususergroup.proboards106.com/index.cgi#n5200
    http://forums.hexus.net/thecus-care-hexus/

  27. One more. This one seems to get some good reviews and people say the front LCD is a useful feature. Sorry, no personal experience with it.

    http://www.thecus.com/products_over.php?cid=12&pid=32

  28. Hey Matt.

    Check out the Drobo along with the new DroboShare (to make it a NAS). I’ve been using the Drobo by itself for about 6 months now and am very happy.

    http://www.drobo.com/

    It seems to satisfy all of your must-have reqs, but not all of your nice-to-haves.

    Dylan

  29. hi matt:

    http://www.drobo.com/

    is looking good now with the droboshare extension. it can mix hard drives, what I like most …

  30. Matt, you might want to check out QNAPs product range, especially the TS-409 (http://www.qnap.com/pro_detail_feature.asp?p_id=86).
    They are based on a Linux system packed with all features, like UPnP Server, iTunes Server, SBM/NFS/Appletalk… (too much to list here ;), hotswapable drives…
    I use a TS-209 and it works perfectly.

  31. Mat S

    I would also suggest Infrant Readynas NV+ – multiple drive bays, I use mine running slimserver to play to my roku soundbridge. I can ftp/https to it from work, tie in with Active Directory or not etc
    I only have the NV but the + adds a LCD front panel.
    http://www.infrant.com/products/products_details.php?name=ReadyNAS%20NVPlus
    http://www.infrant.com/products/features.php
    Only concern I would have is that they have been bought by Netgear however if you check the forums out, the developers are still very active in support and feature requests. The support forums sold it to me as they made me feel so comfortable that if I had a problem I would be able to get help.

  32. Come on Matt – the best NAS is the kind you build yourself!

    Have you looked at:

    http://www.nslu2-linux.org/wiki/Debian/HomePage ?

    I paid around €50 for the Linksys box. Then you flash it and install Debian onto either a flash drive or an external HDD, then hook up as many 1TB disks to a USB hub as you like. Firefly media server is pretty good for a shared iTunes library, rTorrent is a great curses torrent client, samba etc etc.

    The best thing – it’s completely silent and uses only 10W, great for putting in a cupboard.

  33. Christian

    ReadyNas NV+, formerly Infrant, now Netgear.

  34. I couldn’t find anything that fitted my needs (well I could – but not in my budget!), I think I’m going to build my own now!

    I’ve definitely reached the decision that I need a file server with RAID 5 rather than just a backup NAS box (which I had before and realised I was using it purely as extended storage and not keeping a second copy of everything!).

    If anyone can find a better solution than building my own let me know!!

  35. sdf

    i’ve got the intel ss4000e model myself. it’s nice and all, but had a horrible firmware bug when it came out 1-2 years back that lost me a few hundred gigabytes of data. they somehow didn’t foresee someone shutting down the thing every night because it’s in my bedroom – so they didn’t test if the thing shut down reliably – every 50-100 shutdowns there was a chance that the raid got corrupted.

    it’s fixed with current firmware though.

  36. Matias

    QNAP, no doubt about it!

  37. I‘ve been thinking about doing something like this for a while and have been looking into building my own FreeNAS or Sun’s ZFS NAS device.

    For more info check out:

    http://www.freenas.org/

    and

    http://opensolaris.org/os/community/zfs/ here is a great post about a home built device, http://blogs.sun.com/PlasticPixel/entry/build_your_own_multi_terabyte

    From what I have read ZFS offers more possibilities but as it is based on Solaris hardware support is limited, but FreeBSD 7.0 will support ZFS once released.

  38. Check out the Drobo with the new Drobo Share. I think it hits most of your bullet points.

    http://www.drobo.com/products_droboshare.aspx

  39. how about GDrive.com?
    just kidding!

  40. Fikse

    Try the synology CS407….

  41. Matt, considering all this talk of NAS, do you simply scp/rsync files to the NAS? I’d like to know more specifically how people setup there backup systems to be automatic.

  42. Omar Yesid Mariño

    Honestly, I don’t understand why you do insist on doing this by yourself. I would prefer to hire a third party instead of wasting my precious time with this thing.

  43. What about the Drobo?

  44. I personally prefer an old Mac running OS X 10.4. Works great.

    * Ability to accept hard drives of different sizes

    You bet. No big deal.

    * Ability to work with a uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

    I use it with an old APC BackUPS from a few years ago.

    * Ability to email if there are issues

    Could be done. There are various products to do this, or a shell script can even help.

    * Lots of server potential (Sonos, Squeezebox, iTunes, DLNA, FTP server, printserver)

    print, FTP, iTunes, Samba, DNS included. Others should be possible too.

    * Ability to run linux or otherwise ssh in

    openSSH included.

    Only thing it doesn’t quite meet is hotswapable (at least in some cases), though I don’t know of any Mac that requires 22 screws to replace a drive. I’d say downtime can be < 10 min. Could go USB/firewire too and cut that out.

    I personally set my latest up a few weeks ago. Went with dual drives and have it copy data from primary to backup every night. I don’t believe RAID is real backup, so this meets my needs much better.

    Has everything you could need. I’m using an old B&W G3. A G3, G4 era machine can do a great job for a few years as a personal server.

  45. Troy

    Drobo. Drobo. Drobo. I am normally not a fan-boy/super-endorser of anything, but Drobo stole my heart this year. It is simple and amazing, especially they now offer the network ability with DroboShare.

    [steps off soapbox and hangs head]

    http://www.drobo.com/

  46. CDH

    Drobo!!

    http://www.drobo.com/

    If you use the code from the GeekBrief podcast, it will save you $40, also.

    I have one, and they are highly recommended. Mix/match drive sizes and it just works. very nice.

  47. i’ve got a 500 gb buffalo linkstation pro, you can hook it right into a network hub, web manage, and make it an FTP server

    http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storage/linkstation/linkstation-pro/

    Also drobo rocks but it’s only USB right now

    http://www.drobo.com/

    that’s what I’d have if it wasn’t USB

  48. Chris

    I currently have the QNAP TS-209 pro which matches most of your requirements except that it is only a 2 drive NAS which supports RAID 0,1. They just released a 4 drive version that supports RAID 0,1,5…

    http://www.qnap.com/PressRelease_detail.asp?pr_id=71

  49. Hey there Matt. Long time reader first time poster…
    We do managed services/networking for small businesses here in Utah and there are a few options that work for the smallest group that might work for you. Graywolf just mentioned one of them. Drobo is a nice little product for backups and shared storage. It’s USB 2.0 but as they just announced at mac world, there is a stackable NAS module now. Any drive size mix, redundant, hot swap, screw-less access. Add some 500 GB SATA drives now and migrate to larger ones later.
    http://drobo.com/products_droboshare.aspx

    Lacie makes some small 1U (or stackable) NAS machines that run embedded XP that have worked out too. They come in 1/2/3/4 TB models and the current version have Gb LAN. One draw back is the drives are stripped. Pretty fast access for the cost but not redundant on it’s own but @ about $1K for the 2 TB version it’s viable for mass storage if you have another back up option. You can then add USB drives via USB and use the built in backup utility to backup to those as desired.
    http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11017
    The “BIG disk” is a little slower for data access but can be mirrored.
    http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=10953

    Couple something like these with the CrashPlan backup software and you have a simple little backup and NAS system. I was going to mention CrashPlan on you last post when you talked about you storage woes but didn’t want to seem spammy but you pretty much asked for it this time. ;) CrashPlan has linux, windoz, and mac clients and the client backs-up to other clients that you invite to act as a backup destination or peer. You backup for them and they backup for you. All bandwidth, schedule, and storage limits are flexible and it’s simple and very fast to get going. You can even use a machine as a backup target for free so you could run the client at work and backup your home stuffs in a safe and secure location without having to buy a client for it. Your solution might be as easy as getting a couple/few low cost USB/Firewire drives and then backing up with CrashPlan on the “cheap” drives. While we do off-site backups for our clients there is also an option to have CrashPlan be a backup peer for you at about 10 cents a gig and they offer a crack like free trial.
    http://crashplan.com

    In the end, try to keep it simple and best of Luck!

  50. Joe

    I dont know what your requirements are or if it has to be NAS, but this is what I use to keep my files not only safe, but offsite in case of natural disaster.

    http://mozy.com/pro

    -File versioning (for corrupted files and boo boos)
    -complete control over what backs up and how often
    -Bandwidth throttle
    -Parses bit by bit. (If you change 10k of a 100mb file, it only uploads 10k.)
    -Download anytime for free or request DVDs for fee.

    Software is Mac and PC only but you can always use a mac or pc as a file server and have it mirror hourly.

  51. One more vote here for infrant/netgear readynas.

  52. Hi Matt,

    I’ll second Brian’s suggestion of the Thecus 5200. I’ve had mine for about a year now. Fast and trouble-free.

  53. I think the best bet is the ReadyNAS from Netgear (formerly Infrant) though some of their older models had some power supply issues.

    You may want to check out Drobo as it has most of the features you are looking for, though you will need the droboshare if you want to get it on your network.

  54. I just watched the Drobo demo video. I’m sold. I think I’ll get one for my Time Machine backups.

  55. i’me toying building a windows home server box to back up our home pc’s

  56. Have to recommend the ReadyNas NV+ as well. Does a great job and does everything that you listed.

  57. Aaron

    Another vote the for ReadyNAS NV+.
    I’ve had one over a year now and it works great for my wife and I to share files, put all our music/pictures/videos on there.
    Also, the ability for it to stream stuff to my xbox360 and with the new firmware on the xbox to play divx/xvid means I can stream all my videos to my tv really easily.

  58. I wrote up a piece on the troubles w/ the Infrant ReadyNAS, which is applicable to others as well.

    - http://yahooza.com/blog/2008/01/dumb-data.php

  59. Matt,

    Having run the global sales & marketing for the Enterprise Computing & Storage division of a $12billion + manufacturer, I think it’s fair to say that I can give you some good advice here.

    Candidly, with someone of your stature and job requirements, (dealing with spam and all), I wouldn’t fool around with the Buffalo or Netgear crap.

    Take a look at the EMC Symmetrix DMX series. It scales to 2,400 drives (plenty of bays), giving you a little over a petabyte of storage. Plus, if you can upgrade that DSL line to, let’s say – redundant 10GB/s Fibre Channel, and install a 2 ton Liebert unit to deal with the excess heat, you can probably pick one up for a couple hundred thousand. Either that, or back one out of the data center over at the Googleplex.

    Good luck!

  60. well I had a look a few months ago and my opinion was that to get 80% of the features I wanted I needed to pay way too much, and everything else only had the basic features I wanted (itunes, some way of backing up (to USB normally rather than RAID).

    If you want to get full performance then I suggest that you set up a Linux box to do it, it’s still the best way. Or, if you’re doing datamining at home (why else do you want *at least* 4 drive bays???) then set up a hadoop dfs (same as google file system) – you know the benefits already and I’m sure you have more than one machine on normally. Still waiting on a way to mount it though (rather than using the command line client) :-(

  61. rolygate

    Matt

    All mentioned the storage but no one talked about the UPS. You can go wrong here if you don’t know the score. Make absolutely sure you get an online UPS, not an offline one – and certainly not one advertised as an ‘inline’ model, there’s no such thing technically. The difference is the price – you get what you pay for, so avoid a cheap one.

    Offline UPS models, unlike the online ones, don’t run live – they switch in when the power drops out. You hope.

  62. Morgan

    Add me to the FreeNAS camp– using an old Cyrix type processor with no fans, little memory, and runs off a CF card with 4 data drives (that all just depends on the BIOS, thumb drive would work too). Quiet, low power, used old parts, love it.

  63. I guess the main problem with things like these is that almost nobody buys two, and even fewer people buy two of different kinds. So, there is a bit of self-deception to justify a purchase decision already made. I’ll do the same of course.

    I bought the Infrant ReadyNas NV soon after they released it, after reading a Tom’s Hardware Review on it’s predecessor. The last 3 paragraphs of that review were what originally sold me: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/h-2-h-infrant,review-515-11.html

    This was a 2005 review, and the ReadyNas hasn’t changed too much in 2 years. At the time Tom’s hardward presented a pretty good case on why the ReadyNas line trounced the Buffalo Terastations – I have no clue what the case is now. As for fan noise, I think my ReadyNas is quite silent. Unless you live in a dorm and have the thing next to your head as you sleep, I don’t see any problem.

    I also have no idea about this new player drobo. Tom’s hardware measures peak transfer rates for Drobo at 15MB/s read 11MB/s write and ReadyNas NV at 30MB/s read and 30MB/s write if I’m reading correctly. So ReadyNas is 2-3x faster). Still, speed probably isn’t the most important feature for you.

  64. Here’s a question for the ReadyNAS folks: just how loud is the ReadyNAS? I’ve heard from a couple people that it’s not that quiet.

  65. PC

    The company I work for uses the ReadyNAS, they do make a bit of noise but there are certainly noisier NAS boxes out there. Unless you have it installed in your bedroom it shouldn’t be a problem.

  66. this one is great, stable, fast (GiGaBit), uses Ext2 filesystem, SATA…you’ll really like this one…

    http://techgage.com/article/d-link_dns-323_nas/1

  67. I have heard the same from my buddies.

  68. Matt,

    Probably not what people would expect, but I have been using Windows Home Server for a couple months now (The HP MediaSmart Server to be exact), and am very happy with it. I made that decision after trying to decide how to set up a new home NAS. I’m glad I decided the way I did, and I have used a number of home and enterprise NAS products.

    It does most of what you want and hope for, and the few things it doesn’t do OOB could be added via the Home Server’s add-in capability. I have a number of add-ins already installed on mine, including ones for advanced drive management, email and text message notifications, etc.

    You can hot-swap drives, with ZERO screws. It has Gigabit ethernet and via standard protocols pretty much anything can reach it (and you can always add services to let more devices get there). I map network drives to it and do lots of file syncs and movement that way on the LAN. It has four drive bays (one occupied with a 500GB drive, and on mine I recently added a 1TB WD drive, which the Home Server immediate started using – it even moved all the data that was stored around to maximize performance and whatnot). It’s quiet and plenty fast.

    On your nice-to-have’s, it will accept hard drives of any different sizes and you’re not limited to the four bays; you can even add external USB drives and eSATA drives, pretty much as many as you want (I know it was tested with 25+ drives). Mine is plugged into a UPS, and I mentioned the email and txt notifications already. The HP model has an iTunes server built in and since this box is built on Windows 2003 server you have the ability to add a lot of other functionality for other server types (some people alread have via the add-ins). As far as remote access, you can share with people on the Internet, use a remote desktop connection via a special console for adminstration, or set up a variety of other services to do the same, pretty much as you would on Windows anyhow.

    It also has a number of capabilities not on your list, such as the ability to quickly and automatically back up and restore your Windows computers on the LAN (and it works very well – pretty impressive really).

    So, there you go. Certainly the Drobo stuff is cool, too – and the Netgear (or whomever owns it and whatever the newest highest price is) stuff is also pretty good.

    Be sure to let us know what you come up with, and for what its worth if you would like to see inside my server for evaluating and thinking purposes, let me know via email and I will set you up.

    My links to some limited information I wrote about my WHS:

    http://www.greghughes.net/rant/HPWindowsHomeServerMyFirstCoupleOfDaysAQuickReview.aspx

    http://www.greghughes.net/rant/MediaSmartHomeServer64bitClientComingSoon.aspx

  69. Hi Matt, that ReadyNAS looks like it uses a standard power supply. I find that the power supply fan usually causes the most noise when I build a computer. You could just swap it out with a better one from Antec or another supplier. You’d have to check first of course but it’s an option if the noise is a huge concern.

  70. I may have spoken too soon about the power supply. Check out their video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sD3BjhOjq8

    The guy does a review with it on and it doesn’t seem so loud. I have a Lacie external drive. It was louder than my Wife’s PC but when I upgraded the drive to a newer Seagate hard drive, it got really quiet. Maybe the people with the loud ReadyNAS just have loud drives.

  71. Matt,

    I also have noticed some technologies which were once reserved for the high end performance system designers starting to hit the main stream. New liquid cooled systems and cooling solutions for network attached storage devices are starting to hit the market. It looks like Fujitsu/Siemans, NEC, and Hitachi are or will be offering some rack mount systems with this technology.

    In addition Thermaltake, Coolermaster, And Corsair have some nice do it yourself packages for systems. Also, I noticed another interesting NAS which seems very nice for example th Thecus N5200PRO which utilizes low voltage processors which obviously creates and consequently leaks less heat. The specs can be found here: //http://www.thecus.com/products_spec.php?cid=12&pid=32 .//

  72. Remo

    Matt – off topic post but hopefully you can point me in the right direction – for all those who “groan” about using Matts blog as “please help me forum”

    He should hopefully remember “blackcatseo” (lolcats) and he will forgive me – There is a serious bug within gmail

    my gmail is myname.surname@gmail.com but any mails sent to mynamesurname@gmail.com come to me – same name different people. If I reply to an un known party saying “hey there is a prob” it comes backs to me

    So just to be clear if someone sends a mail to johndoe@gmail.com its coming through to john.doe@gmail.com – I reply to all to try and resolve the problem e.g. to johndoe@gmail.com and it comes straight back to john.doe etc…

    Been going on for months, if its happening to me its a bug in the system far wider as it can hardly be exclusive to any name but more a problem of differentiation, between joined and non joined names within the gmail system

    Hi jacking an informative post, but as happening for months logically I cant see this as being a distinct problem to me. Thats right I am answering your “what are the bugs within Goog Prods” you use around 2-3 months late

    The bug is right as its happening for months, but if its happening to others can you confirm the Dublin office really is called “Paddyplex” just curious as there is a company in dublin called Paddywagon which I see on my way to work. Still not sure if its a punishment vechile or a mode of transport for some workers

  73. Dave (original)

    Why not post YOUR email address so spam bots can harvest it?

    Read the BIG BOLD text before posting or contact gmail.

  74. Dave (original)

    Here’s a question for the ReadyNAS folks: just how loud is the ReadyNAS? I’ve heard from a couple people that it’s not that quiet.

    Define “not that quiet” :) Are you wanting to sacrifice quietness for performance? I would go the opposite.

  75. Sharper

    Just go grab yourself a NAS from NetApp (http://www.netapp.com/products/storage-networking/nas/index.html). For proper use, you’ll want duplicate shelves and head units for full redundancy and performance.

    The advantages are that you can connect them up to your computers pretty much however you want, multiple Gig-E NAS, SAN (iSCSI), whatever you like, including SAN and NAS at the same time. They’re fast and support all the useful file export protocols. Their Raid 4 setup also works very well. As a bonus you get automatic snapshot support and plenty of other fancy filesystem tools.

    Of course, the downside is that you’re going to be paying a lot more for it than some of the other mentioned options, but hey, you said price didn’t really matter. If it does actually matter, maybe try Ebay…

  76. Vibhu

    Infrant NV+: I’ve used it for a while and it does all that you want — email warnings, easy disk replacement sans any screws, etc. The fan is noisy, noisier than a Dell desktop, but not as noisy as some of the other PCs I’ve seen with cheaper fans — I’ve since moved both my PC and the NV+ to the garage. It does do the UPnP stuff, which is nice, since you can run your Sonos and iTunes servers off it without any of the other PCs being on.

  77. Lee

    +1 ReadyNAS. I have a 1 yr. old infrant model and I just upgraded to the new 4.0 version of the software. The new software adds ssh access, which has fixed most of my technical issues. I found the performance of the original box to be somewhat sluggish (eg, the web UI would stall if you were accessing a lot of files over a windows share). Upgrading to 1GB of memory solved that problem but the more expensive NV+ models come with that much already.

  78. I use a windows home server. It uses SMB shares, so it can support anything.

    The ability to add hard drives of any size and type and add them to the storage pool is great, and it does intelligent storage and duplication.

    Not to mention that it is a full windows 2003 install, so you can run things like VMware Server on it to get full use out of the power and storage.

  79. The QNAP’s are great. I’ve got a TS 109 Pro. Remote access is easy and it has support for Active Directory and Samba so you can mount it as a network drive remotely. Also has a web interface. Also comes pre-installed with Slimserver and Twonkymedia so you can access your media files all over the house (I have a Squeezebox) and also from friends houses or the office!

    Also built in FTP and HTTP servers if they are of use. Runs very quietly — fanless. I did quite a bit of research before settling on this. Its more like a small business/media server than a NAS.

    My other advice is to avoid the Wester Digitial MyBook World Edition like the plague — what a crock! I bought one and wasted hours of my time trying to get it to work and eventually got full refund as it was unfit for purpose. The remote access software just doesn’t work and is very flaky.

  80. BigGulp

    I’d get a Drobo. Mine kicks butt. Can use any size drives and the data is available when I switch out a failed HD. Also the size can grow with newer disks.

  81. Michael

    Guys, regarding the Drobo – 1) what happens when the device box itself dies? can I read the contents directly? need I buy another Drobo? 2) Isn’t Drobo meant mostly for external backup? Isn’t it slow going through the USB of the secondary Linkshare?

  82. Patrick

    I’ll second what “Nick – I think the original Nick here” said, except that I own the dlink dns-323. I really like it, and the file transfer speeds seem ok to me. I haven’t tested the speed though so I can’t really comment meaningfully on that.

  83. Lee

    On the fan noise – its probably worse than a reasonable pc, but I keep mine in basement. Also, there are discussions on the support forums about how to upgrade to a larger slower-rotating fan.

  84. John

    Lol! Here I am Googling for recommendations on a new NAS and I find this. Contrary to most of the folks here who have a ReadyNAS NV+, I’m not wild about mine. I have the RND4450 2TB model (4x500G) and have been fairly disappointed, particularly with the throughput.

    I bought the ReadyNAS back in September ’07 when I was looking to retire my home built Linux-based NAS. I wanted something smaller, quieter, easier to administer, and supported by a well known and reliable company. I also wanted a mixed bag of features like SMB/CIFS support for my Windows boxes, nfs support for my Apple and Linux computers, and DLNA support for streaming video to the Xbox 360 and (with some help from the nice folks at AwkwardTV.org), streaming to my AppleTV.

    OK, yes the ReadyNAS does all of those things. It is a bit noisy. Though not as noisy as an idle Xbox 360, if that helps put it in perspective. The noise isn’t the real problem – it’s the performance. My home brew Linux NAS built from spare parts had three times the transfer rate of the ReadyNAS. Everything else is the same, the only change is that the ReadyNAS is sitting where my Linux NAS used to be.

    To be sure I hadn’t configured something incorrectly, I spent some time looking through the ReadyNAS forums (http://www.infrant.com/forum) and followed their instructions for testing transfer rates and unfortunately, my ReadyNAS was performing exactly as it was designed to. I suppose you could say it’s my own fault for not checking the throughput of my homebrew NAS against the published figures for the ReadyNAS before I bought it, but it never occurred to me that a $2500 top of the line soho NAS from a major corporation would perform so poorly compared to my thrown together Linux box.

    So here I am, searching for the latest information on new soho nas products because I plan to replace the ReadyNAS with something faster and relegate it to tertiary storage (backing up my backups) when I saw your blog. If you’ve got the time, building your own NAS is cheap, easy, and beats anything on the market in this price range for performance. The downside is that it’s time consuming to pull all of the software together and configure everything the way you want it, so buying an out-of-the-box solution is an attractive alternative if you can find something that meets your needs. I’m still looking.

  85. Try the Snap server. Its an excellent nas.

  86. I know 2 excellent products thaht i can to advice:
    - the first is a very hig quality NAS, Synologi: http://www.raidsonic.de/en/pages/products/external_cases_gal.php?pid=2_3
    - the second is the best in proprortion quality/price Raidsonic : http://www.raidsonic.de/en/pages/products/external_cases_gal.php?pid=2_3

    Thera are some modelas with 1, 2, 4 disk (and for all models + 1 external disk usb or sata), gigabit, print server, server ftp, etc..

    good luck!

  87. it’s a mistake!
    the correct url for synology web site is: http://www.synology.com/enu/products/index.php

  88. Gauntlet

    Have a look at the Storevault S300, it can do iscsi, nfs, cifs and offers quite a bit. Is very quiet.

  89. Howard

    I have the drobo (DAS) and just bought the ReadyNAS NV+ 2 days ago. So far, speed is what’s killing me, on both of them. One of the previous user comments pointed out the max read/write of these NAS are average mostly around 15MB/s. Although it may not be an issue for regular users. When I was moving a portion of backup data to another NAS (about 900GB+), so I can reformat one of them, it’s a pain… It’s gonna take hours and maybe days. When an error popped up saying there’s some permission issue on one of the PDF files in on of the, I don’t even know which, folders. It interrupted the entire process forcing me to redo the whole copying. Also drobo only do SMB and ReadyNAS have some flaws with the AFP support (ie. wasn’t able to save the file attributes). I decide to save up and get a XSERVE RAID (like 5 grand) in the future and never worry about storage again.

  90. hi matt

    i’ve got the lacie 500gb home edition as can be seen here:

    http://www.lacie.com/se/products/product.htm?pid=10994

    now i know its not what you were looking for but all i’m going to say is stay away from lacie. buying the product is okay but support is horrible … seriously – the support is some of the worst i’ve experienced in a long time

  91. Stuart Brainerd

    I favor the idea of reusing the older desktop machines lying around my office which are too old to use as a primary desktop and too new to throw away. I have considered FreeNAS and will try this out next but decided to go first with Windows Home Server (available for purchase online for reasonable $$) on an Athlon 64 box with a decent 600 W power supply. It is a version of Windows Server 2003 though the initial install feels somewhat like the Vista install. I threw in a cheap SATA controller and a bunch of mixed size SATA drives, and have been very happy with the overall functionality and ease of use. There are a growing number of add-ins including a freeware version of Tivo Publisher to store your video files for playing on your home network.

    I have heard good things about the SYNOLOGY appliances as well.

  92. Bob

    I put together my own 16 drive NAS soon to be diskless booting SAN using a recently released Windows Open Source AoE driver.

    Below are the components I used:
    OpenFiler – I have had permissions issues with this that weren’t resolved using the control panel and required assistance from a Linux using friend.
    Enlight TSTCOM ESR-316 16 Drive Server Case

    Dual Intel Xeon Socket 771 Motherboard with 2 Onboard Gbe NIC Ports
    1 Intel Xeon Quad Core Processor
    2GB FB-DIMM DDR-RAM (Soon Replacing with 12GB of RAM since 4GB kits are so cheap now)
    16 500GB Western Digital Drives (Could probably buy 750GB or 1TB drives now)
    2 – 2.5 Drives in RAID1 for the OS installation
    1 – Intel PCIe Quad Port Gbe NIC

    For storage controllers I used the onboard SATAII ports, onboard Mini-SAS ports, and an add-on PCIe SATAII controller. A dedicated controller for all the drives might be faster, the slowest controller seems to be the Highpoint add on PCIe SATAII controller.

    I have it set up with software RAID10 and software RAID5 across all 16 drives using 2 partitions on each drive for each RAID array.

    The slowest link in the chain is the CPU usage on the client PCs accessing the NAS using Windows file sharing. Using AoE as much as possible to connect to the server should significantly reduce CPU usage issues.

    The biggest downside to the system are the 2 Delta 120 mm fans in the case. They are about 160cfm each and make an incredible amount of noise. A server closet or somewhere that is noise isolated is a bit of a necessity. I thought about swapping them out for low noise Panaflo fans but didn’t want the ensuing temperature increases which would decrease the life of the drives.

  93. Marc

    Matt, did you make your decision already? Post back with information please!!

  94. Jason

    I am a technology product researcher. There is no competition in the NAS sector against Synology. They are the most reliable and offer the most flexibility. For your concerns I would suggest the DS509 for hot-swap capability.

    http://www.synology.com/enu/index.php

    Jason Allen
    Conetica IT Research Manager

  95. I still get lots of referrals appearing back over at my blog from my original comment on this thread, so thought I’d pop over and provide an update!

    I went off building my own for a variety of reasons and now have a natty little MyXerver that fulfills most of my needs. I say most as I’m still ironing out an issue or two with the backups and file permissions!!! That said it’s a very stylish and swish piece of kit (especially when coupled with another USB drive).

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