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Windows 7: Recommendations for personal NAS?

10 May 2013   #1
biggles1000

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Recommendations for personal NAS?

So, soon I'll be looking to buy a NAS box with RAID. First off, I have no experience with RAID and exceedingly little with NAS, so some pre-assembled thing would be good rather than having to set it up myself.

Currently, I have one powerful desktop Windows 7 machine, and Android phone, a WP7 device, and an iPod touch. In the near-ish future, the situation will be the same powerful desktop PC, a different Android phone, an iPhone 5, and a MacBook Air (I'll buy the MBA when it's updated, likely within a few months). So it would be useful to be able to access media files on all those devices, but most crucially the two computers.

What I need is to be able to store around 4TB of data in one area, with a backup. To my understanding, this means I'd need an 8TB NAS box with a certain RAID configuration? Basically I seem to have bad luck with HDDs, so I want my stuff backed up (and dislike online backup solutions). In the desktop PC I'll be putting in an SSD as the C drive, which will contain Windows and Program Files (including Steam and iTunes library), but nothing else. On the NAS box I would like to put all my TV shows, movies etc., basically all of my video content. The box would be for my personal use and I don't particularly need to access the videos when out of the house, so really I want a quiet and easy to configure NAS solution. I think I've seen some 6TB ones around online, but 6TB isn't really future-proof, considering it'd work out at 3TB total space. Also, I'm not made of money, so as nice as those shiny LaCie business solutions would be, they're not really cost-effective in my case.

(one query, how would it work? Like, would it show up in Windows Explorer as a 4TB HDD, and whenever I put something on it it duplicates it onto two of the drives?)


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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10 May 2013   #2
kbrady1979

Windows 7 Professional 64bit SP1
 
 

What is your budget for this? I know you said a LaCie isn't in your budget, but what is?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2013   #3
biggles1000

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kbrady1979 View Post
What is your budget for this? I know you said a LaCie isn't in your budget, but what is?
I think a 500 maximum (converts to $766), but if there are no reputable options for that price or less for the specs I need, I'm willing to spend a bit more.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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10 May 2013   #4
kbrady1979

Windows 7 Professional 64bit SP1
 
 

If you want a preconfigured NAS, I would recommend the Western Digital Sentinel line of products. I have a friend that has one and he couldn't be happier with it. If I recall, it uses Enterprise grade drives and comes in different sizes and configurations. It is also very user friendly. Here is the model he has: Western Digital Sentinal ....it has 2x2TB drives in RAID 1. I personally would try to spend a bit more and get a 3+ drive system for RAID 5, but I understand how budgets work.

Here are the other models that Newegg offers: WD Sentinal

If you have a friend who knows how to build and configure a NAS(and not just some kid that knows how to upgrade a video card) you can probably come out cheaper with a diskless system and buying the drives separately. Don't cheap out on the drives though, some HDD aren't made to be used in a NAS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2013   #5
biggles1000

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Looks interesting; it appears to switch to RAID 5 automatically when 3-4 drives are in it. Some reviewer said that adding a WD drive to it that wasn't intended for use in it came up with an error message. The Amazon UK page says the 4TB version comes with 4x1TB drives, which seems rather odd, but would suggest that it has 4 bays? I'm assuming that I couldn't just buy that and swap all the HDDs out for 2TB or 3TB ones each? The Amazon reviewer said "You cannot add any old 3.5-inch hard drive and expect it to work; I tried swapping in a different (WD-manufactured) drive and the device flashed up the laconic message: "Invalid Drive".", which makes me guess that the HDDs it accepts are ones that were purpose-built for it?

The nuisance is that I need 4TB usable (so 8TB total as mirrored backup) yet 'personal' NAS boxes seem to only go up to 6TB, meaning that a 'small business' unit like the Sentinel line you suggested looks to be more the way to go for my capacity requirements. However, the 8TB variant on Amazon is 900 I have several friends who are programmers but they don't seem to be overly knowledgeable when it comes to NAS, although buying, as you suggested, a diskless system, would appear to be cheaper. For example, this appears to have fairly favourable reviews and at 250 for the unit and 360 for 4x3TB Barracuda drives, I'd be over budget but future-proof, or 250 for the unit and 272 for 4x2TB Barracuda drives I'd be only slightly over budget with the desired (but not completely ideal) amount of storage.

Therefore I guess if a friend and I could figure out how to configure the QNAP properly I'd have a cheaper but less user-friendly solution? From a brief glance at types of RAID configurations it sounds like RAID 1 is what I want, with, for example, if I swang for 4x3TB I'd have 12TB of space but 6TB usable as it'd be mirrored - what do the other numbers, such as RAID 5 mean? As I'd like the best balance of capacity and secureness in it all being safely backed up. So basically, what would RAID 5 mean for me if I went to the QNAP and 4x3TB?

(also, the 3TB Barracuda I was looking at was this, which has mixed reviews from some saying it's amazing to others saying it's unreliable. I'm as sceptical about 3TB HDDs as I am about 1TB SSDs in that I'm concerned about whether they work or not. It was my understanding that 2TB was the maximum you could fit in a standard height 3.5" drive, so it'd be rather inconvenient if I bought several 3TB drives and they then didn't fit However, drives may have evolved since then, and I suppose if they're being used in a NAS box I don't need to be concerned about a BIOS or Windows not accepting the capacity. Do you think that that 3TB Barracuda is up to NAS standards though?)

(just spotted the 3TB WD Red drives; they seem to be a bit more expensive than the Barracudas, yet lower RPM. Any idea why that would be? As the Red series seems to be designed for NAS use, yet is slower than drives designed for general storage.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 May 2013   #6
biggles1000

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Oh, also, the QNAP appears to have three USB ports on the back - if I buy it I'd prefer to have it physically next to my tower PC and connected via USB (I assume I can do that? Like, connect it and have it act like a massive external HDD?) but use the network for other devices. However, the QNAP only has USB 2.0, whereas the WD Sentinel you suggested has USB 3.0. I've used USB 2.0 all my life and I know it's not as fast as I'd like it to be. However, my computer doesn't have any USB 3.0 ports on it, so I guess a NAS box with only 2.0 wouldn't actually be a sacrifice on my part?
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