While expensive network storage solutions have been available to businesses for many years, consumer NAS boxes are becoming a far more common and more affordable method of file storage and backup for personal or family use. Considering the sheer inexpense of drives a terabyte and above these days, the usefulness of either personal data redundancy, a central storage for the house network, or a very low power BitTorrent download box - all these are appealing prospects, and for under £100, we see if Raidsonic's Icy Box IB-NAS4220-B is worth the money over that upgrade.
The box is nicely informative and the Icy Box inside is lodged firmly between a couple of thick foam pieces. We found that the utility CD doesn't add much, because chunky manual is certainly useful because it's well detailed in how to setup all the features, and even includes labelled pictures to help guide through the process. There's the 60W DC power brick and several screws for the hard drives.
Click to enlarge
Space for two 3.5" SATA I/II HDD
One RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet socket
Three USB 2.0 ports with support for USB printers, disk, pen drive, card reader etc
LED indicators for Power, Harddrive and OS active
RAID 0, 1, SPAN/JBOD
File server function including Samba, NFS and FTP
FTP server can be accessed globally
USB Printer Server function
UPnP Media Server with DLNA and built-in TwonkyMedia Server (30 day trial included)
Group and User access manager
The IB-NAS4220-B lacks a lot of the extra features the QNAP TS-209 II had, but it's also a lot cheaper and, in our opinion, has more of the essentials for SOHO use. It might not have web server server functionality or a network recycle bin, but it does have the necessary Windows/Linux/FTP access, including remote login (providing you know your home IP address), USB printer server, iTunes server, UPNP server and a BitTorrent engine.
It is lacking a few features though: an http download web interface would be a nice addition to the BitTorrent client, and secure access by SSH, SSL and a more secure FTP access would certainly benefit too - opening up the function in addition to DMZing its port on the router just makes it a target for dragnet port 21 snooping. Encryption for partitions or folders would also be a benefit, especially for small businesses and the security wary, however it would require some beefier hardware inside the IB-NAS4220-B, thus increasing the cost. Finally, there's also no email system alerting users to failed hardware, overheating or a full drive/partition.
Despite all this though, we still think Raidsonic has virtually all necessary bases covered and the extra features we've listed above are usually confined to more expensive models anyway.
Raidsonic provides the usual RAID 0 and 1 support, as well as the JBOD and SPAN options but they are essentially the same thing. Unfortunately it doesn't offer the option of having two, single hard disks installed - they have to be tied together somehow, so unless you're running RAID 1, losing one drive inevitably means something important is gone and they might well as both have died. Bearing in mind that RAID 1 is NOT a backup though and does not prevent data loss from a malicious program, NAS drive failure, power spike, or accidental deletion. This is true of all hard drive only NAS boxes.