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NAS or server?

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  1. #1

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    NAS or server?

    Looking for thoughts, suggestions etc.

    Looking to upgrade my home system. At present I'm running a Dell Zino HD as my HTPC and in effect my server. Its connected to a 2TB external HD via USB2 and shared across other computers via Windows Homegroups. Its pretty ad hoc, but pretty much does the job, but do get issues. Want to streamline and update.

    Firstly my router is pretty old and I think its a source of bottleneck, so will be updating that.

    Second thing is I'm debating whether I get a NAS or a server (something like the HP ProLiant Microserver). If I get a NAS then it will mainly be for storage and I will carry on running programs (like Plex, SAB, etc) from my Dell. If I get a server, I guess I could move all of these to my server.

    Other options are speeding up the Dell by sticking in an SSD and making use of its eSATA port for more storage.

    Any thoughts guys?

    Open for all sorts of suggestions.


  2. #2

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    Sounds like you have a few different things you want to achieve:

    - Speed up the Dell - why do you need to do this? What problem do you currently have? Your network is probably the bottleneck, not the computer.
    - Streamline - getting a NAS and keeping the Dell doesn't really achieve this
    - Share files
    - Home theater

    Personally I have a Synology NAS and love it. I can choose to play movies via the PS3, or Apple TV (with mac in the middle - tho a PC can also be in the middle). If you go the NAS route I would recommend Synology as they are regularly updating the firmware and adding new features.

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  3. #3

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    Hey hey....

    Couple things to note. You probably know this, but all components needs to be up-to-date.

    Wireless Router - Get a nice Wireless N router. I have a ASUS Router, and it is quite nice. I am happy with it. I just show the Amazon link below for your reference.

    http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Dual-B...4934754&sr=8-1

    The router itself makes my slow computer load pages faster, which is awesome. But it doesn't mean my slow computer and new computer are the same speed

    I also have a Western Digital 2tb my book NAS hard drive. I love this! I run a line from my NAS to my Router and run a line to my laptop. The speeds are great and I can stream HD movies.

    **Note, the new routers have many complaints online, not sure why as I haven't had time to read thru the comments.

    The router also has 2 USB ports, but only at USB 2.0 speeds. Hence, if you plug in a USB 2.0 or 3.0 hard drive, the speeds are limited to 480mbps

    Wifi speeds are also limited to, I don't remember the number for 802.11n. Plugging in 1000mbps is still the best bet as long as your computer and all components have 10/100/1000. Some older electronics only have 10/100.

    With that being said, I have a new macbook air on wifi to the router and I can stream HD movies too over wifi from my "wifi NAS hard drive", so I am happy.

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  4. #4

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    Can you tell us more about how to set up a server and its benefits.


  5. #5

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    Quick note: that HP Microserver is specified to run only RAID0 or RAID1, which is a very strange limitation on a storage server with 4 drive bays. So unless you are prepared to run something like ZFS that gives you a RAID5 analogue, the HP device would be a bad choice for any data that's hard to replace.

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  6. #6

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    Original Post Deleted
    It is a 4 drive device. Any storage device with 3 or more bays should be designed to be capable of RAID5. Any NAS manufacturer that makes 4 bay SOHO devices supports RAID5 or 6.

    RAID1 is terribly inefficient, RAID0 is risky. I guess you could run it as JBOD, but that's both clumsy and still leaves the device open to unrecoverable data loss.

    ZFS has been reported to work on the Microserver. It's not a bad option at all but you've got to be Linux-savvy to go down that path.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the discussion guys and sorry for not getting back over the weekend (decided to stop being a geek and brave the outside).

    Few points of clarification:

    - The Dell runs fine, but it has some issues meaning I can't leave it on all the time (basically it randomly restarts if I leave it idle. This is a well known problem with the computer I have. I can live with the problem until it breaks down though). This means I can't really use it as a server.

    - I will eventually run a media streamer in my bedroom, this is why I need some sort of server / NAS storage.

    - I will probably be getting the Linksys E4500 router. Yes its expensive, but it seems to do lots.

    - I'm not too worried about RAID array set ups. I don't mind if the stuff that would go on the NAS / server ends up getting lost / deleted / destroyed.

    - If possible I would like to install some programs on the NAS / server (things like a usenet client, and other background clients) - I do understand a server would be more suitable to this than a NAS box (but am aware that certain clients can be installed on a NAS box).

    - While cost isn't my biggest issue, it obviously does come into play. The reason I'm looking at the HP Microserver is that it is super cheap and you get 250GB HDD, 2GB RAM and four bays. In the uk it is selling for 250 pounds with 100 pound cashback at present (making it about HK$1,800). I've seen it in HK for about HK$2,300 - 3,000 depending on where you look. The cheapest four bay NAS boxes are no way near this cheap. Obviously I would have to sort out my own OS if I were to go down the HP route.

    - If I were to go with a NAS, I would be fine with a 2 bay box, so that could make things cheaper.

    - In terms of NAS from what I've been reading the big players are Qnap, Synology and Netgear ReadyNAS. Quite a few people have told me to go Synology's way.

    Anything else?

    Last edited by pin; 23-04-2012 at 06:35 PM.

  8. #8

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    Original Post Deleted
    I have 211j. I used to have a 207+ which served me for about 3 years, but the power button broke, so I got a replacement, and the power button seems to have been redesigned to something more robust.

  9. #9

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    I have both, a NAS Synology DS211J and a server, a home built Core 2500K, Raid 5, etc, etc..

    There are pro's and con's, If you need only typical file storage, a NAS will work just fine, uses less electricity and a much smaller foot print.

    In a nutshell pros and cons..

    NAS:
    File Server
    Smaller Footprint
    Less power and heat dump
    Limited but not necessarily included.. P2P, Media streaming, File system security and encryption, IP Cam recording, file serving across internet via FTP, proprietary or (VPN, usually comes with PPPOE connect and firewall), photo hosting for forums "img" tags.. Just some examples of what some NAS are currently capable of now-a-days.. Vendor and Models may vary, of course the more functions it has, the more you can expect to pay for it..

    Actual Server:
    Larger Footprint
    More versatile
    More power and heat dump is usually associated compared to NAS..
    Can pretty much do anything a NAS can do but better, You can't change a P2P or media streaming server on a NAS if you don't like it, on a server, you can...
    I use mine for SQL, VM Workstation, FTP, video streaming, video encoding and ripping, testing of various software ranging from linux to scripting..

    Really boils down to what you need it for, and do you want to deal with the headaches of setting up a real server.. My NAS was so simple, I just plugged it in, went into the interface and inputted a few settings. 30 hours or so later.... It takes this long as it needs to build the RAID 0 in EXT 4 file format (not all NAS requires this, just my model does), after that.. I was good to go once I mapped the NAS shares to my local workstations.

    Pretty much what Deleted said...

    NAS vs Server
    Approach - NAS is an appliance. You set it and forget. I only futz with my Synology when I want to not because I need to. Server is Swiss Army style. You want to run windows? sure. you want to run linux? sure? you want to upgrade your RAM? sure you want to slipstream features into your install? sure?
    The only thing I'll touch is the 211J vs 211+ example for my part, I am the only one using it and logging in, all my scripts that backs up to the NAS does so at 4AM automated when I am asleep, I didn't need the extra processing muscle, so I went with the cheaper model to save a few bucks and got me a pair of 2TB drives instead (highest model at the time of purchase)..

    Honestly I don't have much experience with NAS as some, I have only used a Netgear ReadyNAS (old school) and a Synology DS211J was my next purchase, I based my purchase off reviews from www.storagereviews.com and checking out their forums. In NOT sounding like a Synology fanboy, their forums does have good support as I see moderators answering a lot of user's questions, take that as you will and you can judge which brand you want to go with.
    Last edited by justsomebody2; 25-04-2012 at 04:24 PM.
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  10. #10

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    Thanks for your thoughts guys.

    Server would be great, but in all honesty given the lack of time I would have and the learning curve I think NAS is probably the way to go for me.

    From all the reviews and speaking to various people it seems all roads point to Synology! And it seems for me the best solution would be the DS212 models.

    Out of the 212 range I think the 212 or the 212+ would suit me. Now, which one!!

    The 212+ has a faster processor and more ram, but then again is about HK$1k more expensive (the price of a 2TB disk basically). If it were pure backup then I think the 212 would be a no brainer. However I would be using it to stream media and maybe run things like Sabnzbd off it. Would the 212 have enough juice for me or would I need the extra power of the plus?

    At present the DS212 is selling for around HK$2.4k and the DS212+ for HK$3.4k.


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