Buying a NAS Part I

This entry was posted on Apr 12 2008

I have been looking for a network attached storage (NAS) device for some time because keeping everything on my desktop was not the best solution. Here is what I needed my NAS to do:

  1. Connect to the wired network without adapters. Wireless would be nice but lets face it.  With media files you really want it on a wired network no matter what.
  2. Be quiet and use low power.  Not silent desktop kinda quiet (see refrigerator), more like the wife will forget it is behind the couch kinda quiet. I have free computers that I could easly put FreeNAS on and just have it sit somewhere but that would not be quiet enough and would draw more power than a dedicated device.
  3. Lots of storage! 400 gb of usable storage was my minimum and having expandability through USB would be a plus.  RAID 1 was also a desire but was out of the question for my price range.  Manual backups would have to suffice for now.
  4. SAMBA server and DLNA server built in. I have used XBMC for about four years to stream my media to my TV and it uses samba to stream all of it’s content.  I have just recently started using my PS3 for these tasks because it plays all the codecs I need and it is easy!! I don’t have to explain to someone how to search the network or share a folder on their computer. This has been a life saver for my setup because I don’t need to worry when a folder changes.  The DLNA server just scans it and shares the media exactly the same as it was.
  5. This was probably my biggest opsticle…I needed the solution to be under $300. I know that this may seem like a lot, and when I was first looking I thought I wouldn’t have any problems finding what I needed. It turns out there wern’t as many available options as I first thought.

I had been looking at the Buffalo Terrastation for a little while because it came with 4 drives and had everything I wanted, minus quietness, but the system started at $700 and quickly climbed in price from there. I had also been looking at the Terrastations lower priced cousin the Linkstation Pro‘s but they did not support DLNA and were quite expensive when I was looking.

I was at Fry’s one weekend and saw the Netgear Sc101 for $40. Wow, $40 for a two drive NAS enclosure how could I go wrong? The device only supported IDE drives but I wasn’t too worried because I had a few 200 GB IDE drives that I could use in this to get the storage I wanted.  I also figured that I could find some way to mod it, or follow directions online to mod it, to get some of the missing features to work. I brought the Netgear home and put in my two drives. I open up the manual to see how I can map the drive in Ubuntu and quickly find that the hard drive can only be used in Windows because it loads a proprietary driver into windows to mount the drive locally. So back in the box it goes and sits for another week until I am able to go back to Fry’s to return it.

I returned the Netgear and waited for the next weekend to see what new deals would spring up the following weekend. I went back the next Saturday and saw that they had the Linkstation Live 500 for $170. There was only 1 left on the shelf and I didn’t know much about it but I saw on the box that it supported DLNA so I bought it on the spot and brought it home with much anticipation of how awsome it was going to be. I open up the box and plug it into a local switch and start a disk format.  The drive already showed it was formatted but if this is going to be my main storage device I want to make sure everything is as clean as can be. The format seemed to be taking a little while (hours) so I just let it run through the night.  In the morning the format was still not done and I was getting worried. I let the format run while I was at work and when I got home I was greated with a nice “the drive is not formatted error” in the web interface.  I upgraded the firmware to the current one on Buffalo’s website, 2.10, and started another format.  This time it went much faster ~30 min. and I was ready to transfer everything over.  I started with everything on my desktop because my hard drive had 20mb left of free space and ubuntu was starting to complain.

Once I got most everything copied over from my desktop, 1 day of transfering, I enabled the DLNA sever and tested it with my PS3. I was very disapointed! I could see the server but couldn’t see/play any of the files. The drive also seemed pretty loud. So far this was not a good solution for what I wanted…

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