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Best NAS home media Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by irvsax, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    Hi all,

    I am looking for an external hard drive to use as a NAS server to my TV etc at home so that i dont have to have my laptop on and plugged in etc if i want to watch something i have stored.

    I also want to use it for remote access aswel from the laptop.

    I currently have 2X1tb usb hard drives so the NAS drive would basically be an online backup of these drives.

    I am very new to this tech, so all and any advice greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
  2. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    What's your budget?

    If it's around £50-60, then the D-Link DNS-320 ShareCenter Pulse or the Netgear MS2000 Stora seem good for the money - I'm trying to decide which to get myself.

    If you're happy to spend more, have a look at a Synology, QNAP or ReadyNAS.
  3. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    I think it will be a bit more than that. Want to get 2tB really to backup everything i already have at least.

    Just been reading review of a Buffalo Linkstation Pro that seems quite good, but they say transfer rates are not brilliant, but then again, i cant find one in a similar price band that is better for speed.
  4. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    You can put whatever size drive in you like. I think the biggest I've seen people use is 2 x 3TB, so either 6TB total or 3TB in RAID providing you get a 2 bay NAS like the models I linked to.

    Just to clarify, the ShareCenter and Stora I linked to are empty so you need to buy the drives separately, although if you buy the drives at the same time some retailers will give you a small discount - Dabs offer a bundle deal on the ShareCenter and 2 x 2TB drives.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  5. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    I see, so i then buy the Hard drives separately to put in these devices. Dont suppose any of these can use existing USB drives for storage, as i have 2X 1tb drives already?

    I notice one charges for premium services. I wouldn't want anything like that. Do they all do this, or do some offer all the functionality with no extra charges?
  6. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    If you are able to open the USB enclosures and they are 3.5" SATA drives you will be able to use them, BUT the NAS will need to format them so you'd need to copy the data off temporarily. You could plug them into the USB port on the NAS but I'd expect this may reduce performance and I'm not sure if they'd be any limitations - you could certainly try it before buying a new drive though to see how well it works. The Stora and ShareCenter only have one USB port available though so you wouldn't be able to connect both drives at the same time.

    The Stora does have paid for 'premium' featues, but if you have a look at this checklist you'll probably find that the standard features are enough - there's actually only 5 premium features (I suspect they've moved some into the standard feature-set over time). In any case, they have reduced the price for the premium membership to a ONE-OFF payment of $9.99 (£6.29) so hardly a deal breaker.

    There are lots of reviews around so you'd be best to have a look at some, but bear in mind that the Stora had firmware problems to start with which resulted in lower review scores, but apparently all of the issues have been long resolved.
  7. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    That sounds like it could be a good option! I will check it out and see if i can take the drives apart. I would rather have them installed properly than via usb. I may also buy a 2tb drive though to use as backup to the drives i already have. As they are two bay units, can you use just one bay with a 2tb drive?

    Fair enough, that is very cheap and i wouldnt mind paying that as a one off cost.

    I think my biggest requirement will be quick access to the files remotely. I dont really have much need for torrent streaming and automatic upload of photos etc, so performance is the key for me.

    Thanks for your advice, its very useful
  8. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    You can use one 2TB drive. With these 2 bay NAS, you basically have three options - use one drive (i.e. 1x2TB), use 2 drives and have the whole amount available (2x2TB=4TB) or use 2 drives in RAID (2x2TB=2TB). I'm personally going for the RAID option as this mirrors drive 1 onto drive 2 so you have a backup should a drive fail, but you only have half the total space. (Probably not explained that too great but the reviews will cover it and also have a read up on RAID). You can start off with one drive and add a second later, just bear in mind it will take a while if adding a second drive for RAID as it will have to copy all of the data across.

    Remote access speed will obviously depend on the internet connection at both locations - either the ShareCenter or Stora should be fine, but if you're able to spend more have a look at the Synology, QNAP or ReadyNAS options that I mentioned as they might be faster. The ShareCenter and Stora are so cheap, that I think it's worth trying them - if you decide they're not suitable for your needs you can always use the drives in a more expensive NAS, but just trial it first as most NAS will want to format the drives themselves.
  9. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    Ok, that makes sense. Will probably go for 1X2tb to start and keep the usb drives. Then probably add another 2tb drive later on and sell the usb drives or something.

    Yeah of course. I agree the netgear price looks very good, but i have just seen that this model has been replaced by the new ReadyNAS Duo v2 which is about £150 without the drives, so all of a sudden its not such a good value option (but not far off my original budget if i added the drives still).

    It would be good to trial a system though and then upgrade it if a felt i wanted better spec and hadn't spent too much in the first place.
  10. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    If you've got the money for the ReadyNAS it may be best to go straight for that, but it's up to you. It would be interesting to see a real world comparison so you can see what you get for 2-3 times the money. It all depends on your needs and how many simultaneous connections you need as I suspect a cheaper NAS wouldn't cope that well with more than a few people accessing it at once, whereas the more expensive more powerful models would be able to handle it.

    I would expect to get most of my money back if I sold the ShareCenter or Stora so worth a try IMO - they go for good money on eBay. I might end up ordering both as I'm struggling to decide between the two!

    Check out OpenStora and NAS-Tweaks.net | Your source for tutorials and tweaks for lots of info about these 2.

    Let us know what you decide to get!
  11. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    Well, i am looking at the moment, and i am struggling to see allot of difference between say the Dlink Sharecentre at around £55 and something like the Synology DS212J which is £159 without any drives aswel. I am sure there are differences, but the Sharecentre does seem like good value.

    As i am only using it for myself to stream to TV without PC on and remote access to files, i wont need multiple access configurations at all really.

    I do want something that has the itunes compatibility. Some list this and others dont, but i know that doesnt always mean that one doesnt have it.. its just they dont chose to use it as a marketing tool. I dont really know what the itunes stuff does yet....
  12. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    I believe that if a NAS has an iTunes server, iTunes will show the NAS in the left panel which you can then click to display your music. (Not sure though as I've never used it).

    Both the ShareCenter and Stora have this according to reviews I've read, and I'd expect most NAS to have it but double check if it's important to you.

    There are several threads on here about both NAS so I'd recommend reading those too as streaming is mentioned in them as well as a number of other things.
  13. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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  14. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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  15. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    Seems like a bargain to get a Synology setup!

    However I'm assuming it doesn't do RAID though so you'd have to consider other backup options, that is, if you want a backup.
  16. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    correct, it cant do raid as the drives aren't internal. It is basically a USB hub with the Synology DSM software built in - so you get audio station, itunes server, dnla, ftp, smb etc
  17. ChileanLlama

    ChileanLlama Member

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    plarkster, RAID1 is not a backup, it's redundancy. As you say if one of your drives fail you shouldn't lose the data on the other drive as it's mirrored. But it won't protect you from any changes the user makes which a separate backup would. I.e. you delete your precious memories folder accidentally, this deletion is replicated on both disks in the RAID and it's gone. A backup would be separate and remain intact allowing you to recover from your mistake.

    IMO you should always have a separate backup, if possible offsite, and then if you can afford it RAID which reduces your downtime when a disk fails.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  18. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    @ChileanLlama I agree - I personally only have a small amount of data that I would consider critical which I do backup elsewhere. Most NAS also have a recycle bin type feature so you could recover accidental deletions providing you do it quickly before the data is overwritten, so not ideal but could come in handy.

    What system do you use?
  19. ChileanLlama

    ChileanLlama Member

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    Good stuff plarkster - good to see you're playing it safe :)

    My setup is pretty stupid/overkill to be honest. 40TB on the server, RAID6 with hotspares for data, RAID1 for the OS and VMs. All running Windows 2008 and WHS2011 as one of the VMs. It's backed up (duplicated) locally to another smaller server with no redundancy. Then a backup to an 8TB HP Microserver which is held off site - just for the absolutely critical stuff.
  20. Matt_C

    Matt_C Active Member

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    Whilst RAID isn't a backup solution, if you don't need the full, combined, disk space, it's a good option to go with. Should one drive fail, the data, at that time, is still on the second drive. Replacing the failed drive with a new one, the RAID1 is rebuilt, and all data from the healthy drive is copied to the new drive. The downside to RAID1 is increased write times; you copy a file to the NAS from the computer and it takes longer to write, since it has to write to both disks, not just one. Fastest is single drive, then RAID0, then RAID1 (correct me if I'm wrong, this is how I've understood it)

    RAID1 is a worthwhile choice if you don't mind the fact you have say 4TB total, but only 2TB available to use. But you need a seperate backup solution. In my rig, I have a Buffalo NAS with 2x 1TB inside, set up RAID0 - striping. I also have a 2TB USB HDD as it's back up mirror. When one of my drives in the NAS failed, I lost everything - the second drive is useless and needs to be formatted, and a replacement fitted for the failed drive. Fortunately, I had a back up of the NAS on the USB HDD, so once a new disk was in, format done and RAID set up, I was able to copy all my data back to the NAS from the USB drive. Just over 1TB, took 33hrs! If I'd had 2x 2TB in my NAS, with RAID1, it'd taken a lot less time, and all been done from the NAS, not needing my backupdrive to be connected to repopulate it.

    Now another disk in my NAS has failed, I've RMA'd both disks back to Buffalo for replacement, which means I have no NAS at all while they're away. Fortunately, I can plug my backup drive into the USB slot on my Time Capsule and still watch movies and listen to music over my network, but of course I'm paranoid that something will happen to my backup drive while the NAS drives are away, and I don't have any other backups! :rolleyes:
  21. ChileanLlama

    ChileanLlama Member

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    Matt,

    RAID0 is the fastest. It stripes data (over a certain size) to both disks at the same time. For example if you had a 64K stripe size and a 128K file, it would write 64K to disk1 and 64K to disk2. The file would be split over the two disks. This is extremely dangerous for data storage, as if one disk fails all the data on both disks is generally useless.

    RAID1 shouldn't be any slower than a single drive, the mirroring should be done in parallel so writing should only be as slow as the slowest drive in the array. Additionally some controllers allow data to be read from either drive in the array, so improving read speeds.

    In general terms, if you can't afford a separate backup drive it may be more worthwhile to have separate single drives (one is regularly backed up/duplicated to the other - how WHS2011 now does it) rather than have a RAID1. This would give you some security against accidental deletions etc.

    Edit: Obviously on NAS units - which is the focus of this thread, they have limited CPUs. Using RAID can tax these processors and slow things down significantly, especially if you went for something like RAID5. So they can impact on performance regardless of your overall drive speed.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  22. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    Yes, this seems the perfect solution for what i need right now. The backup side of things is not vital for me, as these drives are backups of what i have on my laptop, and anything additional is not critical.

    I think i will try this method and if it works i may upgrade to a system that can do RAID etc at a later date. Seems this is the best VFM right now.

    Thanks for the link aswel.. looks a top price.
  23. Matt_C

    Matt_C Active Member

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    @ChileanLlama - that makes sense, just sure I read it different somewhere before is all
  24. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    @Graham how do transfer speeds with the USB Station compare to the Stora and ShareCentre? Is there a performance hit due to it being USB or are speeds similar?
  25. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    don't know. It'll be USB 2.0 speeds though which is 1.5mbs
  26. interbear

    interbear Member

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    I'm looking for something very similar.

    I would not recommend the Netgear Stora however, had one for a while and it's given me nothing but heartache. And it's why I'm seeking something new. Best options so far looking like the Buffalo Cloudstation and the WD MyBook Live Duo. The latter particularly. It supports either 2TB+2TB or 3TB+3TB with RAID so a level of protection provided. Or they could be 4TB / 6TB storage if preferred. Seems to also offer easy remote access, DNLA support and a USB port.
  27. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    Did you get anything yet irvsax?
  28. irvsax

    irvsax Member

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    Not yet. But so far i still still pretty certain on getting the Synology USB Station 2. As this is the first time i will be using a system like this the low cost of this (not having to buy any more HD) is ideal.

    I may even place an order today so should be able to report my thoughts next week some time.

    You?
  29. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    I actually bought the Netgear Stora AND the D-Link ShareCenter DNS-320 Pulse as I couldn't decide between them.

    Both were OK, and good value for money but I wanted something a bit faster and better so decided to send them both back and spend a bit more - I ordered a Synology DS212J last night for £160 from Dabs. It's a lot more money and I didn't really want to spend that much, but I love the software and I know someone with an older model and it runs flawlessly. Plus there are a range of free Synology iOS and Android apps so you can easily access your data on the go.

    BTW, you can try the Synology Disk Manager software online here to see what it's like.

    If I had USB enclosures I'd have been tempted to get the USB Station 2 - please let us know what the transfer speeds are like if you do get it.
  30. plarkster

    plarkster Member

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    Meant to reply to this earlier. I thought USB 2 had a max data transfer rate of 480 MB/s (3840mbps) or am I missing something here?

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