Finally a NAS for the masses

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

I touted my love for my DROBO NAS device about 40 months ago.  I love the device’s simplicity in upgrading drives and space over time.  Though it’s an awesome little gadget, it certainly isn’t perfect.  I found that the ventilation system built in wasn’t nearly sufficient for the three stacked (closely together) 7,200 RPM Western Digital RE2 HDDs that was occupying it’s bays.  I solved it by literally cutting a hole in the front faceplate and mounting a push fan to it to help force airflow over the drives.

I’ve always been looking for a true NAS device that I can just plug into my network and map on my computers.  I’ve also been wondering why all NAS devices use 3.5” HDDs when the laptop 2.5” HDDs have come down in price so much recently.  Additionally, the smaller drives are also designed for smaller spaces with less ventilation… i.e. they’re designed for minimal residual heat production.  So why not use those kind of drives instead?

OK, OK, I hear the choir already… but, but, but… PERFORMANCE!!!    Yes, it is true that the 3.5” HDDs has better performance than the 2.5” HDDs so if I was going to put the drive into my server or a desktop, then I’d certainly opt for the bigger form factor, but let’s be serious… this is going inside a NAS device.  A device that is being read from via a common ethernet NIC port which, even with Gigabit speeds, is certainly NOT going to be waiting on the drive to read the data.

Well, Thecus just released their N0503 ComboNAS.

image_3_42E3930D

This little beauty, priced at $400 ( that’s Apple prices!) it’s a little expensive, but here’s what makes it stand out for me is the fact that it can hold 5 (that’s right FIVE!) HDDs, 2.5” laptop HDDs!  Given 1 TB sizes for these drives now, that’s up to 5 TB of storage.  Of course, if you insist, you can always go the 3.5” HDD route and plug 3 of those monsters in.  With 2 TB sizes there, that’ll give you up to 6 GB of space!

Add the two gigabit ethernet NICs and you have the ability to connect it to two distinct networks.  At my house, I run an internal and a guest network.  All my computers run on the internal network and all my friends and family that visit, gets to use my guest network.  Both completely separated with unique IP ranges and all.  This baby can plug into both and be used from either network.  Sweet!

Throw in the device’s support for RAID 5 with Auto Rebuild, Hot Swap and Hot Spare and it becomes something special.  With RAID 5 and hot spare (only available on the 2.5” option), it truly becomes self sustaining.  All you’d ever have to do is change a dead drive when it fails every so often.

2.5” HDDs 3.5” HDDs
Drives 5 3
RAID 5 Yes Yes
Hot Swap Yes Yes
Auto Rebuild Yes Yes
Hot Spare Yes No
Space 1 TB/drive 2 TB/drive
Total Space 5 TB 6 TB
Total RAID 5 Space 4 TB 4 TB
Total RAID 5 Hot Spare Space 3 TB NA


Cheers
C




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Cornelius J. van Dyk

Born and raised in South Africa during the 70's I got my start in computers when a game on my Sinclair ZX Spectrum crashed, revealing it's BASIC source code. The ZX had a whopping 48K of memory which was considered to be a lot in the Commodore Vic20 era, but more importantly, it had BASIC built into the soft touch keyboard. Teaching myself to program, I coded my first commercial program at age 15.

After graduating high school at 17, I joined the South African Air Force, graduating the Academy and becoming a Pilot with the rank of First Lieutenant by age 20. After serving my country for six years, I made my way back into computer software.

Continuing my education, I graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Computer Training Institute before joining First National Bank where my work won the Smithsonian Award for Technological Innovation in the field of Banking and Insurance. Soon I met Will Coleman from Amdahl SA, who introduced me to a little known programming language named Huron/ObjectStar. As fate would have it, this unknown language and Y2K brought me to the USA in 1998.

I got involved with SharePoint after playing around with the Beta for SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Leaving my career at Rexnord to become a consultant in 2004, I was first awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for SharePoint in 2005, becoming only the 9th MVP for WSS at the time. I fulfilled a life long dream by pledging allegiance to the Flag as a US citizen in 2006. I met the love of my life and became a private consultant in 2008. I was honored to receive my ninth MVP award for SharePoint Server in 2013.

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