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TRENDnet TN-200 NAS Box Review

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SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 10:31 Quote
If the OS is a little dodgy, would it be possible to wipe it and install FreeNAS instead?
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 10:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
If the OS is a little dodgy, would it be possible to wipe it and install FreeNAS instead?
No: FreeNAS is only available for x86 processors, and the TN-200 (in common with the majority of NAS boxes) runs an ARM chip.
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 10:45 Quote
Ah, that makes sense. :)
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 10:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Ah, that makes sense. :)
For £25 more - after cashback - you can get an HP MicroServer N54L, which includes four 3.5" bays with hot-swap capability (if you install a modified BIOS,) gigabit Ethernet, six external USB 2.0 ports and one internal, an eSATA 3Gb/s port, a 5.25" bay, VGA output, 2GB of RAM (expandable to 16GB) and a dual-core x86-64 AMD Turion II processor. Sure, it's a little bigger - but not that much - but by *god* is it a lot more flexible. I've seen people stick four 3.5" drives in the main bays, four 2.5" drives in an adapter in the 5.25" bay and boot from USB for a total of 24TB of raw storage before you even start thinking about an external eSATA chassis. Oh, and you can stick whatever OS you like on it - I've even seen people running Windows and adding in a low-profile graphics card to the PCIe x16 slot for gaming and high-definition media playback, although why you'd do that I really don't know...

I love mine. Getting 120MB/s raw throughput over the network, and around 90-odd encrypted via SSH using the AES128-CBC cipher - a higher throughput than any of the NAS boxes in the test group, I note...
tonyd223 19th February 2014, 11:12 Quote
Have to agree with Gareth - that Microserver is a no-brainer, and it's tiny and quiet. It's so small that the missus probably wouldn't notice it. Problem is the cost of the Operating system - perhaps an article on replacements for Windows Home Server?
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 11:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyd223
Have to agree with Gareth - that Microserver is a no-brainer, and it's tiny and quiet. It's so small that the missus probably wouldn't notice it. Problem is the cost of the Operating system - perhaps an article on replacements for Windows Home Server?
Ta-da: open source alternatives to Windows Home Server. It's a little old, but a good place to get started. These days, I'd probably recommend FreeNAS for a pure NAS experience, OpenMediaVault for multimedia storage and streaming, and Ubuntu Server for general-purpose server usage. I'm running the latter on mine.
Matticus 19th February 2014, 11:14 Quote
Looks like quite a nice little box. The interior looks very similar to that of the D link DNS 320, which was just a little bit too loud for my liking, certainly couldn't have it in a bedroom or living room while it was whirring away. If noise isn't an issue and you don't use all the features of a Synology then this seems like a great buy.

That said, if I were in the market for another NAS I would certainly go with a HP Microserver (again) as Gareth recommended. I got stupidly fast speeds with that thing and the new ones are that little bit quicker.
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 11:54 Quote
The MicroServer has intrigued me. Is this the item being discussed? As some of the specs don't match up as suggested, RAM being upgradeable to 16GB for example (Specs state 8GB max).

http://www.ebuyer.com/430446-hp-proliant-g7-n54l-2-2ghz-microserver-ebuyer-704941-421

If items such as this cost less, perform better and offer more options, all while being roughly the same size, why do people go for dedicated NAS boxes in the first place?

Gareth, I am also a little confused how 8 drives can be connected (4xHDD and 4xSSD) if there are only 4 ports.

The main use I want is to RAID drives, possibly in a 2x2 mirrored stripe array (is that the best for speed and parity?), dumb all my videos, music and general documents and then be able to stream the media from any network connected PC or device in the house.
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
The MicroServer has intrigued me. Is this the item being discussed?
Yes, but it's cheaper from ServersPlus (use code MSFREENDUK at checkout for free delivery.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
As some of the specs don't match up as suggested, RAM being upgradeable to 16GB for example (Specs state 8GB max).
Officially, it supports 8GB; it works just fine with 16GB, though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
If items such as this cost less, perform better and offer more options, all while being roughly the same size, why do people go for dedicated NAS boxes in the first place?
Simplicity - they want a plug-and-play solution; space - the MicroServer has a larger footprint than a two-bay NAS, so if you're only needing two drives it's a bit of a waste in space terms; ignorance - they don't know it exists; price - the MicroServer is under £100 at the moment 'cos HP is offering a £100 cash-back deal to clear stock of the old generation, but when the offer isn't on you'll likely pay upwards of £200 for the same hardware.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Gareth, I am also a little confused how 8 drives can be connected (4xHDD and 4xSSD) if there are only 4 ports.
There are actually six SATA ports: four on the hot-swap backplane, one internal for the 5.25" bay, and one eSATA. Your options include using a SATA multiplexor or - the cheaper and simpler method - sticking a four-port SATA card in one of the two PCI Express slots. Added bonus: you can get a PCIe card offering SATA 6.0Gb/s, instead of the on-board ports which are SATA 3.0Gb/s.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
The main use I want is to RAID drives, possibly in a 2x2 mirrored stripe array (is that the best for speed and parity?), dumb all my videos, music and general documents and then be able to stream the media from any network connected PC or device in the house.
Don't do a mirrored stripe - you just bring down the likelihood of losing all your data to the same as running a single drive, and the added performance will gain you nothing 'cos the network is limited to an absolute maximum throughput of 125MB/s. Literally, it wouldn't matter if your array could handle 500MB/s - the most you will see out of them over a gigabit network is around 120MB/s.

My advice: if you're comfortable with RAID (which is for availability, not backup - sorry, I am obliged to point that out in any given RAID discussion) then run a two-drive mirror. That's what I do: two 2TB drives in a Btrfs mirror. One drive dies, no data lost; silent corruption gets detected in a monthly scrub and corrected using the intact data from the second drive; and I have the added benefit of snapshotting, offline deduplication (currently broken, sadly) and fast LZO compression. This is all in *addition* to regular backups, though: Btrfs is still experimental, and there's a non-zero chance I'll wake up one day to find the filesystem has gone non-linear and deleted everything.
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 12:06 Quote
Thanks for that info Gareth... I edited my comment above to state my idea of requirements although I admit to being new to actually using RAID.
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 12:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Thanks for that info Gareth... I edited my comment above to state my idea of requirements although I admit to being new to actually using RAID.
We're getting increasingly off-topic here (my fault entirely), but I've replied to your edit above. If you've not used RAID and you're not using Btrfs or a similar filesystem with in-built RAID-like functionality, I'd honestly suggest not bothering. Instead, set up a single disk to use as storage and a second disk to use as a backup for the first. Set up a nightly schedule to copy new and changed content from the first disk to the second. Much simpler than RAID, and you can use something like rsync with the --link-dest option to create dated and incremental backups, allowing you to take any file back to any version in its history - something that pure RAID doesn't offer, always giving you the latest version of any given file even if said version is corrupt. (Have I mentioned RAID isn't a backup?)
wuyanxu 19th February 2014, 12:20 Quote
Advantage of ARM based devices are power consumption.

My Synology Ds213j consumes less than 4w idle, which is what a NAS will be doing 80% of its on-time. less than 30w operating. My Microserver consumes about 10w idle.

Then there's the fan noise.

This is a nice little NAS in terms of hardware, shame the OS let it down. There's a reason I paid for Synology. :D
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 12:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
My Microserver consumes about 10w idle.
Blimey, how did you get that so low? Mine, measured at the wall, draws 21W idle and 35W under load - and that's after a *lot* of tweaking.
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 12:22 Quote
Nevermind. :)
wuyanxu 19th February 2014, 12:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Blimey, how did you get that so low? Mine, measured at the wall, draws 21W idle and 35W under load - and that's after a *lot* of tweaking.
Erm.... that was an estimate based on HDD spinning power usage. I didn't want the microserver to sound THAT bad.

about 35w idle with 5 HDD spinning. I estimated 5w for each HDD.

But I have measured Synology with HDD off, and it does indeed consume less than 4w, as advertised.
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 12:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
Erm.... that was an estimate based on HDD spinning power usage. I didn't want the microserver to sound THAT bad. about 35w idle with 5 HDD spinning. I estimated 5w for each HDD.
If you've done no tweaking, I'd expect that your MicroServer (assuming it's the same N54L model) will draw more like 25W at idle - mine did, out-the-box and with three drives spun down.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
But I have measured Synology with HDD off, and it does indeed consume less than 4w, as advertised.
Aye - a saving of £23 a year at current electricity prices compared to my 21W MicroServer. Certainly something to take into consideration!
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 13:02 Quote
I seem to be back at square one trying to decide between a NAS box or a Micro Server... I guess I'll have to hit the forums to try to learn more and decide, especially as the HP is listed as over 30cm wide (31.5 x 37.47 x 39.98 cm from HP website) which is huge.
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 13:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I seem to be back at square one trying to decide between a NAS box or a Micro Server...
If it helps put the above into perspective, the Synology DS213j is £60 more expensive (wiping out three years' of energy savings), only two-bay, and slower. The Synology software is lovely, though, I'll give it that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I guess I'll have to hit the forums to try to learn more and decide, especially as the HP is listed as over 30cm wide (31.5 x 37.47 x 39.98 cm from HP website) which is huge.
Dunno where HP's measuring it from, 'cos mine is just shy of 21cm wide, 26cm tall and 26cm deep. About 4cm wider, 2cm taller (remember there's a half-height 5.25" bay, hot-swap sleds and room for two low-profile PCIe cards in there) and 3cm deeper than Synology's four-bay DS413j. Which, incidentally, is £230(!)

EDIT: Just to confirm, and with apologies in advance for the terrible quality - the server's in a relatively inaccessible and dark corner of the office - here's a rough measurement:

http://gareth.halfacree.co.uk/pubimages/servermeasure.jpg
Cthippo 19th February 2014, 13:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
We're getting increasingly off-topic here (my fault entirely), but I've replied to your edit above. If you've not used RAID and you're not using Btrfs or a similar filesystem with in-built RAID-like functionality, I'd honestly suggest not bothering. Instead, set up a single disk to use as storage and a second disk to use as a backup for the first.

You run into capacity issues pretty quickly though since the largest consumer drives I've seen on the market are only 4 TB.

I need to finish my new fileserver soon (current one is getting disconcertingly full) and I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to configure mine. Tossup between 2 x 3TB in RAID1 or 3 x 3TB in RAID 5. Haven't played with the higher RAID levels before and I admit the leap of faith that that parity thing really does work is a bit scary!
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 13:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
You run into capacity issues pretty quickly though since the largest consumer drives I've seen on the market are only 4 TB.
Three letters for you: LVM. No worries about striping: if you lose a drive, you lose only the files that were stored on that drive. Can use any number of storage devices, which can be of any size - add a 500GB drive to your storage pool using LVM, and you've got 500GB of extra space in the pool. Add a 2GB flash drive, you've got an extra 2GB. S'great.
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 14:19 Quote
See, this is where these things start to go beyond me. I feel even 4TB drives are restrictive and so RAID would help me there, but I also wanted to have a back-up in case a drive failed on me as I have hundreds of movies and at least 3000 music albums and I have no intention of ever going through them again. I thought that was the point of RAID. To provide increase volumes for storage over a number of disks while providing parity so that if a single drive failed, you could replace said drive, the array would 'heal' and you would carry on as before having not lost any data.
I wanted to use striping not so much for speed but to link 2x 4TB drives for one single large 'Entertainment' volume and then stripe another 2x 4TB drives to work as a mirror to back up the first 2 drives. NAS boxes seem to be good for one or the other, either using 2 drives together for storage but without back up or to only have limited space but a second drive for back ups. Unless you go for very expensive 4 bay NAS but then I am back at my original issue of wanting a large single volume and a system for backing it up just in case.
As for using Linux, I don't even know where to start having never used it at all.

P.S. The DS413j is even more expensive (around £275) as £230 is before VAT.
Combatus 19th February 2014, 14:22 Quote
I think there are two definite camps when it comes to NAS. The MicroServer/DIY route is great if you've got the time and expertise to deal with installing and setting up an OS, be it Windows-based or FreeNAS and the like, and yes the hardware is certainly faster and more flexible for the cash.

However, even the basic £130 Synology boxes are ridiculously streamlined and have everything all in one package, mostly preinstalled and ready to go. I literally had a personal cloud, raid array and itunes server set up in less than 15 minutes and had friends streaming videos from it over the Internet too. They are more expensive but as has already been mentioned, you'll likely recoup the costs in electricity over a year or two of 24/7 use compared to an x86 system. It's just about convenience really and of course you do pay more for it.
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
See, this is where these things start to go beyond me. I feel even 4TB drives are restrictive and so RAID would help me there, but I also wanted to have a back-up in case a drive failed on me as I have hundreds of movies and at least 3000 music albums and I have no intention of ever going through them again. I thought that was the point of RAID. To provide increase volumes for storage over a number of disks while providing parity so that if a single drive failed, you could replace said drive, the array would 'heal' and you would carry on as before having not lost any data.
No, no and thrice no. RAID is designed to increase availability. It's built for servers. Imagine if your bank had a single machine doing all the internet banking stuff. Unlikely, I know, but bear with me. Now imagine that it has a single hard drive. If that hard drive dies, the server is down until a new drive can be procured, filled with data from a backup and inserted into the system - meaning irate customers. Now, if the same machine has a RAID mirror across two drives and one dies, the server continues operating as normal - the customers see absolutely no downtime. Grab a fresh drive, stick it in the array, remove the failed drive and watch as the system automatically copies the data from the remaining drive to the new one - and all the customers see is, at worst, slightly reduced performance while that's happening.

'But Gareth,' I can't hear you say 'cos I'm employing a linguistic device for the sake of the discussion and projecting the words I need to hear to continue my lecture into your mouth, 'doesn't that mean the second drive acted as a backup?' No, I answer. No, it does not.

Here's a new scenario. A new sysadmin starts, fresh from an MSCE. He makes a whoopsie, drops the customer table from MySQL. The changes are written to disk. Now, the RAID mirror ensures that both disks contain an exact copy of those changes - in other words, there's no way to get that data back. It's gone. The bank gets infected with a virus that overwrites all its spreadsheets, which for the sake of this argument are stored on the same server. It's a small bank, OK, get off my back about it. Again, RAID ensures that both drives have exactly the same data - meaning again, all the spreadsheets are lost. A program goes none-linear and starts spewing garbage across the disk. Whoops, thanks to RAID both disks are now trashed.

Now, a backup would, in all cases, mean that none of this is a problem. If the MSCE drops the table, restore from last night's backup. If the virus overwrites the spreadsheets, restore from last night's backup - or if the virus was dormant for a while, walk backwards through the backups until you find clean copies of your data. The program that overwrote the disks? If you've any sense, your backups are held on another machine - or, as is common, on offline storage in off-site facilities.

That is a backup. It's frequently used with RAID, for obvious reasons.

To ditch the bank example and use your own: imagine if you accidentally deleted a folder with a bunch of irreplaceable videos in it, 'cos you thought it was a different folder. RAID would offer you no help in this scenario; your videos have gone, unless you want to start faffing around trying to undelete the - likely corrupted - files. A backup, on the other hand, would mean you could recover your videos quickly and easily.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Combatus
They are more expensive but as has already been mentioned, you'll likely recoup the costs in electricity over a year or two of 24/7 use compared to an x86 system.
By my reckoning, if we take the easy route and assume it spends 100% of its time idle, the four-bay £230 Synology DS413j would take five and a half years to make back the £130 more it costs compared to the four-bay N54L MicroServer, based on a 17W difference in idle power draw. That's ignoring, of course, the fairly-equal active power draw and the fact the Synology will spend more of its time with the disks spinning 'cos it's slower than the MicroServer. Call it six years, then.

You're absolutely right about paying for simplicity, though - although I reckon I could get FreeNAS running in about 15 minutes on any given hardware too.
SchizoFrog 19th February 2014, 15:28 Quote
OK, thanks for the story Gareth but the one scenario you didn't seem to cover was that of 2 RAID arrays comprising of 2 disks each in the same system, 1 striped array for a large volume as in general use, the other as a striped array and set up to run as a nightly back up. Is that possible, practical with both NAS boxes or Micro Servers? Bearing in mind that it is mainly for media streaming too.
Gareth Halfacree 19th February 2014, 15:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
OK, thanks for the story Gareth but the one scenario you didn't seem to cover was that of 2 RAID arrays comprising of 2 disks each in the same system, 1 striped array for a large volume as in general use, the other as a striped array and set up to run as a nightly back up. Is that possible, practical with both NAS boxes or Micro Servers? Bearing in mind that it is mainly for media streaming too.
Absolutely: in that case, you've got RAID and a backup. Just be aware that a one-box solution is risky: if there's a hardware failure or power surge, it could damage all the drives - likewise the malware or something's-gone-non-linear scenario, which would have full access to both the main data and its backup. Personally, I'd have two boxes separated geographically - even if it's only a question of having one upstairs and one downstairs - but another option would be to unmount the backup disks when they're not in use. Won't protect against the "my PSU has blown and taken all the drives with it" scenario, but it would protect against the malware/non-linear-program - providing you've noticed and fixed the problem before the next time the backup volume mounts, of course.

Also, be aware that RAID0 striping doubles your chances of losing data: if either drive of the stripe dies, you've lost 100% of that data. Sure, you've got a backup, but then you've just returned the odds back to that of a single drive. Call the drives in the main array A and B, and the drives in the backup array 1 and 2. If A or B dies on its own, you can restore from backup when you replace it; if 1 or 2 dies on its own, you can recreate the backups when you've replaced the drive - although you'll lose your existing backups, which is a pain when you realise you want a version of a given file from six months ago; if A and B die, you're fine; if 1 and 2 die, you're fine; if A and 1, A and 2, B and 1, or B and 2 die together, though, you're shafted: you've lost the originals and the back-up. Sure, it's unlikely - but it can happen.

EDIT: To clarify: if you lose one drive, you have a 0% chance of losing any data in the above scenario; if you lose two drives, you have a 67% chance of losing all your data, including the backup. Those aren't odds I recommend. In my case, with 2x2TB mirrored and a 2TB backup drive, I have a 0% chance of losing data if I lose two drives.

If I were you, I'd get two NAS boxes or MicroServers and have one back up to the other. I'd even have the second physically power down when not in use, with the primary server using Wake-on-LAN to power it back up again before beginning the nightly backup.
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