Nas Drive advice

Mark Grant

Canon user
I have an old Buffalo LS250GL NAS drive that has been working perfectly for years, it is just about full now so time for a new one as it is about 4 years old.

I have a new Samsung 2TB 5400 rpm HD203WI spinpoint F3EG ecogreen bare drive and am looking for an empty NAS box to put it in.

Have been looking at Synology and Qnap.

Does not need to be the fastest, really looking for low power consumption and reliability.

Any suggestions or links to good prices appreciated.

Hi Hamish,

We use Buffalo as well at the moment (Terrastation II and III's). We have 2 x 1tB and 3 x 2 tB all running in RAID 5. They are not the fastest but are very reliable. I bought a QNAP box to see if it was faster for large image files. It's a great system but not much faster - there is a new one with a faster processor that might be though. I also have a couple of IcyBox enclosures each containing 2x500 gB drives in Raid 1 (you can configure them as RAID O if speed is the main priority). They are small, nice looking and a pretty good price and probably a good solution for your 'spare' drives. Drobo boxes have a good reputation and are very flexible but are not the cheapest solution!
We use Buffalo as well at the moment (Terrastation II and III's). We have 2 x 1tB and 3 x 2 tB all running in RAID 5.

I have a 1TB Buffalo NAS which is all but full. It has four 250GB drives in a Level 5 configuration. Would you know if there is any firmware limitation that would prevent me from swapping in a new terabyte drive every few days, giving it time to rebuild the array before swapping in another, eventually making it a 4TB box? My worry is that it was built to just be a 1TB, making migration to a larger capacity impossible.
Hi Larry,

I'm pretty certain that the Terrastation II and II can both be configured up to 8 tB. You can certainly put a bigger drive into a RAID 5 configuration that uses smaller drives for the other 3 (but you can't put a smaller drive in even if the drives are not full). I guess you could do this a drive at a time and let it 're-build' the RAID each time in between. However, what worries me is that if it started as a 1 tB NAS, it would still think it was as the RAID would be mapped across 1 tB and not 4 tB. I guess if you hadn't added any new files to the RAID during the process you could, after the 4th drive swap-out, reset the NAS and build a new array at 4 tB. Your old files would then just be a backup and you'd need to remember the order they were in. I don't think that gets you where you want to be though. You could of course copy the files out onto a single 1 tB drive after all four had been swapped, reconfigure the RAID and then copy them back. Might take a while though especially on a II: the III's are faster.

I think the only systems that cope with the scenario without those steps are the Drobo boxes but they use a proprietary RAID technology as I understand it.
I wrote to Buffalo support a while back and the answer was quite ambiguous, but from that and what I saw on their site, I have a better than 50% feeling that it would work. Of course, if I did feed it four terabyte drives and it only showed one terabyte of capacity, I could return the original 250GB drives, let it rebuild and then stick it in a closet.

My graphics machine is due for a major upgrade to 64-bit along with most of the known RAM in the industrialized world, which means a new motherboard will replace the old one. My music production machine has been serving me since 1998 and though the most stable machine on the net, is due for retirement. (It managed to run just over ten months without a reboot!!!) I am thinking that I would have a new machine built to both serve music production and also be my NAS, so the drives would not go to waste.
Hi Larry,

Personally, I would keep the RAID containing the data away from the OS even if it is in the same machine. Then, when the OS commits hari-kari (I get the impression you are using an MS OS) you can rebuild the drive it was on without risking our image / music store.
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I ordered a Synology DS210j and it arrived today :)

Only installed one drive in it so far, plan to mess around with it before putting any serious data on it.

A steep learning curve with this as it has so many features compared to my Buffalo drive....

At the moment it has 1 x 1tb drive.
will copy a load of music on it as test data.

Will then try to upgrade to two x 1tb in Raid 1 without loosing data.

Then change one of the 1tb for a 2tb drive and see if it can work it out with odd drive sizes of a 1tb and 2tb drive in raid 1.

Then install another 2tb drive so ends up as 2 x 2tb drives in raid 1, just to try the upgrading options.
We have one Qnap box and it certainly is quite impressive. We also have 5 Buffalo Terrastations and a smaller 2 drive unit. They certainly are not quite as fast and lack the sophistication of the Qnap units but have proved very reliable. Hence the latest order. But I will be revisiting Qnap, especially now that some of the models have a faster processor. Do you have any specific recommendations (really just for NAS functionality with RAID 5)?
any reason you feel you specifically need raid 5?

a mirror over two drives is easier to maintain, and better when things go wrong you see... i dont recommend raid 5 for domestic applications.

IF (god forbid) the unit fails and stops working... a raid 5 array is useless in anything apart from another unit thats identical. a mirrored drive however, can be taken out and put into even a normal PC and read perfectly well without any issue.

I dont use raid 5 in anything apart from large commercial servers with standardised raid cards and formats.
Actually these units are in a commercial environment and we have duplicate units for each of the main storage applications plus live copies of the others elsewhere. The latest Terrastation was to provide the second unit for the only non-duplicated system. I do, however, want to move the main image store (currently on a 2TB Terrastation running RAID 5 and duplicated on an identical system) onto something with a faster transfer rate (over copper gigabit). We bought a Qnap as a test last year but it did not give the throughput boost that we'd hoped. RAID 5 isn't a must as long as we are robust and optimise capacity.
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Thanks David, we haven't looked at those but now I will. Speed is a bit of an issue when working with / backing up the files coming out of a PhaseOne P45 and even the DSLR stuff takes its toll. The Buffalo's have proved reliable but are not the snappiest of performers! Maybe we can relegate them to secondary storage one we get the primary sorted out (the work stations themselves both MacPro and PC run with striped RAIDS for speed but the data is only held there while being worked on if you follow my meaning).
Yes, e-SATA is certainly truly impressive. I have a Sonnet F2 Fusion that I use on the MacBooks and the thing blazes (it may well even e faster than the internal HDD!). I set it up as a striped array 'cos I just didn't believe the figures they were quoting! For the office based stuff (in Germany we are all Mac-based - except for one lonely PC - but in the UK we are PC-based except for the laptops due to some critical software that is not available on the Mac platform - and they are too expensive to be used as platforms for VMWare!), the network attached bit is the important part.