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Promise NS4300N: NAS For Small Offices

Increasing Floods Of Data

In the days before digital cameras, most photographers had to rely on the services of a third party to get their film developed. Music was dubbed from record players to tape, so that you could listen to a wide range of your favorite tunes in the car. And watching a Super 8 film at home or at a friend’s place was a cause for celebration. All this changed with the introduction of digital media into our everyday lives.

Today, processing digital video on tape is just as much second-nature as post-processing photographs and publishing them on the Internet. A home theater PC in the living room can play the results of creative editing on common commodity hardware, and also let us listen to music in .mp3 format. At the click of a button, a selection of music can be transferred to a digital music player, which can then ensure the right background is available for a trip to work.

Your Data Requires Increasing Digital Storage Space

But the introduction of digital devices into our everyday lives didn’t just bring benefits. Alongside the usual trials and tribulations caused by cutting-edge technology—complicated menu systems, incompatibility between files and players, or computers that no longer respond—one aspect is usually swept under the carpet: the secure storage of data.

Programs and files, whether they be created by the user or purchased online, require ever-increasing amounts of storage space. Digital .mp3 collections, pictures, and home-recorded videos from digital cameras can add up to a considerable volume of data over time. You don’t just want to archive this data. You want it to be available at all times, and if possible, made available for use on the widest possible range of players and computers.

Network Storage

This is where Network Attached Storage (NAS) units come into their own. These devices can make several terabytes of storage space available within a network, independent of any one computer. This is made possible through a lightweight embedded operating system, generally based on Linux, and stored on a flash storage module in the NAS unit.

Fitted with a Gigabit Ethernet interface and USB ports, these NAS units are designed to have low power consumption. Many NAS models, however, aren't just limited  to making data available in a Windows network. They can also act as media servers in the home and provide a download manager able to retrieve files from the Internet. A NAS unit can be set up in just a few minutes, and is generally designed to be operated by less technically-minded users.

NAS Units Are Increasing In Popularity

With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that NAS units are moving from being solely the domain of professional user within companies to becoming more and more popular with home users. In the past we have introduced, among others, the QNAP TS409 Pro Turbo NAS, the Maxtor Shared Storage II, and the Vox Blackbox. The following pages will show you what you can expect from the Promise NS4300N. As we’ll see for starters, the unit makes a very good first impression.

  • ecka
    On the second page:
    The current maximum is 6 GB, made up of four 1.5 TB drives available from Seagate.

    I think it should be 6TB
    Reply
  • danielkza
    Actually it should be 8TB with the introduction of WD's new 2TB drives.
    Reply
  • chovav
    Can someone explain me why all of these NAS devices are delivering such poor performance over 1GBit LAN? they should be able to get to (more or less) 100MB/s in an uncomplicated raid 0 or such.. is the processor so slow that it can't handle it? not enough cache? what's going on?! :)
    Reply
  • russofris
    Unfortunately, the article is as light on details of the internal components as Promises' so-called datasgeet at http://www.promise.com/upload/datasheet/NS4300NDatasheet_20080709.pdf

    I would really like a thorough investigation of the internals, including the processor (it's a SoC, but which one), controller chip, and underlying OS. I suspect that it is a BSD derivative due to the lack of published source code available on the promise website, though "Billy" from the promise NAS focus group seemd to indicate that it was Linux using a special promise RAID technology (and not LVM or MDRAID)

    There are multiple posts on the avsforums regarding the unit. Of the 25 or so pages that I read, I found that the unit is not a stellar performer, and can be purchased for around $300.

    Ultimately, it looks as if you're better off purchasing a full featured $200 Atom based platform, tossing in 4 disks, and utilizing linux LVM/MDRAID for a full fledged NAS.

    Frank
    Reply
  • Sad Panda
    Seriously? You want us to pay 420 bucks for a POS that will underperform a standard desktop machine you can put together on Newegg for less?

    MicroAtx MOBO with onboard video = $80
    Dual Core CPU = $60
    2 Gigs of DDR2 800 Ram = $24
    Case with 6 HDD slots and 4 external slots = $40
    Linux Operating System = $0

    Total = $204 aka half the fucking price for more hard drive slots and much more customizable.

    Seriously who buys this over-priced NAS shit.
    Reply
  • SilentBob999
    Many NAS have poor power supply coming with, it will be a good idea to test with high consumption hard drive or at least talk about this fact... I heard about some NAS system of this type that come unstable with 4 1.5TB hard drive...

    For people who talking about the price, don't forget that its a Ready-To-Use solution, a lot of people want this type of gadget but doesn't have the technical knowledge require to setup a linux system able to share data over a network with an web interface for configuration....
    Reply
  • @sad panda:
    So true... not to mention you'd still have enough left over to buy a real RAID card and absolutely blow these things out of the water.

    4-port Hardware RAID cards going for under $300 on newegg.
    Reply
  • Sad Panda
    asdfzxc@sad panda:you'd still have enough left over to buy a real RAID card and absolutely blow these things out of the water.4-port Hardware RAID cards going for under $300 on newegg.
    What's wrong with getting a MOBO that does RAID for you?
    Reply
  • FreeNAS on an ASUS + RAID board. Does all the protocols not just the three mentioned and FTP. Oh boy, hardly call that NAS-centric.
    For RAID10 to be worth the effort the minimum you should use is 3 pairs of hdd (didn't see RAID 10 as an option). 6 hdds with 50% redundancy. So if you were to use 2TB drives you would get a max of 6TB storage and 6TB of redundancy.
    Want to run a heavy database driven application?
    RAID 100 or plaid RAID would be the better one to go for. Many small businesses or startups do this. This product couldn't support that.

    $420 can buy you a small form case with a number of designs that house many drive bays, mobo with onboard RAID, Graphics, multiple Gigabit ethernet adapters, good powersupply.

    You can then go even further and utilise USB2.0 and throw external USB drives for another layer of data sharing.

    All this and more and not stuck with a poorly put together product that limits the imagination because of its short comings.

    All that and more from your local computer needs store.
    Reply
  • chookman
    Im with you sad panda, i just don't get why people buy these when a cheap low power dedicated box is superior in every way.

    As for the additional card, a good hardware RAID card will give you a noticeable speed increase over any motherboard controller, provide more features and better security (failure wise). So if you needed speed and had the cash it would be better for sure.
    Reply