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Network Storage Question

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March 25, 2012 4:25:40 AM

So I've been looking at buying an external hard drive so that I can finally clear my internal hard drive a bit, but I am having trouble deciding how exactly I should do this.

I've got a network at my house which includes a TV and 2 computers, and I thought that it might be a good idea to get network storage so that my TV could access all the media on the HDD and also be able to back up both computers there.

Everything in my house is wired, but I'm not sure what to do; should I get a regular external hard drive and then find a new router that has a USB slot, should I use NAS, or should I just avoid network storage altogether and use it locally?

I've been looking at these so far:

USB 2.0:
http://bit.ly/GP25lv

NAS:
http://bit.ly/GP27dl

I mean, it isn't imperative that both computers be backed up, but I thought that it would be kind of nice to be able to do that. I also realize that I can still use the HDD as a media server even if it's just locally on my laptop and that I need Windows 7 Professional in order to back up the computer via network storage.

I was leaning more towards USB just because it is compatible with more, but I don't know if that's the best option. Any suggestions?

Thanks for any help!

Best solution

a c 88 G Storage
March 25, 2012 4:56:38 AM

External hard drives aren't the fastest and they require a host computer. I do not know of any routers that are capable of serving up media from a USB attached hard drive, it would have to be hooked up directly to a computer on the network and shared.

NAS drives tend to be extremely slow. They're fast enough to serve up SD movies but you'll have a hard time serving up HD movies reliably on most of them. Newer models are significantly better than older ones and are probably more than capable but I have no experience with anything after 2008. Most NAS drives plaster "gigabit" all over the box yet the controller's internal limitations limit it to a little bit over 100mbps speeds (my old D-Link DNS 323 would get around 20MBps read / 15MBps write, by comparison a good ICHR10 RAID can get 10 times that on the same disks).

There are a few very good NAS drives but these are typically from niche manufacturers such as QNAP and will cost upwards of 500 dollars for a two bay drive. They're effectively mini-computers and offer far more than just file storage, definitely worth looking into if money isn't a huge factor.

My suggestion is to avoid going the USB/NAS route and actually get a compact formfactor PC. They will cost about half again as much but are many times more capable. Most compact cases only support 2.5 inch hard drives but 3.5 ones are around, you'll have to look though. Pair this with a µATX mobo and a cheap CPU. I would recommend going with an AMD Fusion APU as you can then have the box handle all of your media decoding as well, you can get far greater codec support on that than your TV will offer. Most µATX mainboards have HDMI out which implies 5.1/7.1 audio codec support and of course you always have DTS/AC3 pass through.

Ultimately the value of going with a dedicated media box which serves as a backup box as well will greatly outweigh anything you will find on USB 2.0 or in a comparably priced NAS. You're basically killing three birds with one stone
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March 26, 2012 2:29:15 AM

Alright, well because I'm pretty cheap, I am now looking at another alternative as well; using an old computer as a media server.

I was looking at this article, and I was wondering if this would be another solution as both a way to backup my files on a network and use it as a media server.

I'll be checking if it will allow RAID 1 pretty soon, and I'd also like to look into getting a formfactor PC as you suggested, but I yeah, I just thought that perhaps this would work as well
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a c 88 G Storage
March 27, 2012 12:22:05 AM

yes that would work just as well as long as it has HDMI output.You will of course need a way to control it but there are some really neat wireless minikeyboards
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a b G Storage
March 27, 2012 8:19:47 AM

There are several consumer-grade routers that allow you to connect USB devices and allow it to be a poor-man's NAS. This won't provide the best speed but it will work and will be more efficient from a power perspective than a dedicated computer. Some external drives even come with 2 drives in a RAID1 config for high availabilty. There are also several consumer-grade NASes out there that are pretty good deals. I run a 4bay WD NAS with 4 x 1TB drives that I picked up probably 2-3 years ago for $499. It's not the fastest thing in the world, especially for writes but it serves my purposes well. There is always the option of building a computer/NAS. This will provide good performance depending on the components you use but will generally draw more power and can have increased maintenance as compared to the other solutions.
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March 28, 2012 9:34:05 PM

I will definitely be avoiding the USB-connected external HDD route then, as well as the DIY dedicated computer as it does NOT have an HDMI port and I'm a bit concerned by power usage.

Now in regard to the NAS I had previously posted, I actually found this performance comparison right here on the main website. I have been looking into that WD a LOT as of late, and I've been looking through many reviews posted on Amazon.ca, and even though there are MANY negative reviews, the majority of these are issues that have been resolved via firmware updates.

For this, I am really not very concerned about write speeds at all. From the above review, it seems like it outperforms the rest of the devices there in almost all categories (that was just for 1-bay NAS). Do you think that I would perhaps get better performance from that 4TB, 2-bay NAS, or would it be similar? I am only really concerned with reading speeds and perhaps cloud transfer speeds over write speeds as I only plan on backing my computers monthly or bi-monthly. That, and would RAID1 significantly lower those read speeds?

Thanks
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March 29, 2012 6:05:09 AM

After doing some more research, I am slowly moving away from that WD NAS and leaning more towards what Pinhedd suggested. I'm seriously considering getting the Synology DS212j as I can't really find many negative reviews at all. Actually, out of the 50 or so I read, only 2 reviewers gave this drive below 4/5 stars.

Based on these reviews, it sounds like this device is going to fulfill what I am looking for in a RAID capable NAS. I will include some specs below:

Features & Specifications

• 24/7 Power-Saving Download Server
• DLNA® Certified Media Server
• Effortless Backup
• Anywhere Access
• Power-saving with only 17.6 Watts in Operation
• Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Hardware Specifications

• CPU Frequency: 1.2GHz
• Hardware Encrypted Engine
• Memory: DDR2 256MB
• Internal HDD/SSD: 3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X2 (Hard drive not included)
• Max Internal Capacity: 6TB (2X 3TB HDD)
• External HDD Interface: USB 2.0 Port X 2
• Size (HxWxD) : 165 X 100 X 225.5 mm
• Weight: 0.94KG
• LAN: Gigabit X1

• System Fan: 92x92mm x1
• Wireless Support
• Noise Level : 18.3 dB(A)
• Power Recovery
• AC Input Power Voltage: 100V to 240V AC
• Power Frequency: 50 / 60Hz, Single Phase
• Power Consumption: 17.6 W(Access) ; 5.5W (HDD Hibernation)
• Operating Temperature: 40 to 95°F (5 to 35°C)
• Storage Temperature: 15 to 155°F (-10 to 70°C)
• Relative Humidity: 5% to 95% RH
• Maximum Operating Altitude: 10,000 feet
• Certification: FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
• Warranty: 2 Years

Now I realize there's no hard drive included, so my next step if I were to get this device would be to locate fairly cheap-ish 1Tb or 2Tb HDDs. Are there any decent hard drives under $100, or will they all be around that price?
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April 1, 2012 7:18:59 PM

Alright, for now, I have decided to go with Synology's NAS because it seems to be very highly reviewed universally. Thanks for all the help!
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April 1, 2012 7:19:39 PM

Best answer selected by MR_AWESOME55.
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