Introduction: This Is Not a NAS
The new WSS NAS series from Thecus contains some very interesting devices, and particularly so at the entry-level price with the unit we’re looking at today. WSS is the abbreviation for Windows Storage Server (in this case it’s 2012 R2), and this provides a huge increase in functionality compared to a standard NAS, as you might imagine.
Need a server? Just add a keyboard, mouse, and monitor
It’s really quite remarkable what Thecus is doing in partnership with Microsoft here in terms of value, as this entry 2-bay unit costs just $350. While this may seem high for a dual-bay NAS, we really aren’t talking about a NAS at all with this - which will be readily apparent to the user upon first powering it up. We are talking about a full-scale server here, replete with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials goodness. Of course a savvy user could easily deploy a small server in a home or office, and there are many advantages to managed solutions beyond the simple NAS appliances. But the advantage of a NAS is just that: it is significantly less complex and accessible for a consumer. The W2000 presents a very interesting option due to one particular aspect of its own accessibility: price. At $350 you are getting a very compact server with internal hardware much more akin to a standard desktop than you might imagine, and it ships installed with Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials.
What is “Storage” Server Essentials?
Ok, so I was a little confused as to the specific difference with the Storage version of the Server OS, unless it was simply a licensing distinction. My research first brought me to this quote from Microsoft:
“Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials is based on Windows Server 2012 R2. In fact, when it comes to functionality, you get key some features that aren’t included in these first two editions.”
After looking through the available documentation it appears as though Storage Server Essentials is, essentially, just Server Essentials with the distinction of being licensed differently. Microsoft TechNet defines it further:
“A computer that runs Windows Storage Server is referred to as a storage appliance. Windows Storage Server is based on the Windows Server operating system, and it is specifically optimized for use with network-attached storage devices. Windows Storage Server offers you a platform to build storage appliances that are customized for your hardware.”
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2015 - 07:32 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: synology, raid, NAS, iosafe, ces 2015, CES, 1515+
We've reviewed the awesome fireproof and waterproof ioSafe storage products in the past, first in combination with Synology NAS products. Then we later reviewed an ioSafe N2, which was basically a 2-bay Synology NAS *within* an ioSafe fireproof and waterproof enclosure. They didn't stop there, and have since expanded to 5-bay versions of the same. Today ioSafe launched an upgrade to one of those models - the ioSafe 1515+
With 5 bays, the 1515+ is considerably taller than prior models.
Here's what the inside looks like. A sealed waterproof enclosure sits behind a consumable fireproofing material, and inside that enclosure sits five 3.5" HDD's.
The rear is fairly simple, but if you note the quad Gigabit Ethernet, you realize this is actually a NAS powerhouse. When linked to an appropriate business oriented server (Windows Server 2012, ESX Server, etc) with a quad Gigabit link, 450MB/sec can be achieved. Similar read speeds are possible even with the integrated hardware AES-256 encryption enabled, but write speeds will then be limited to just under 200 MB/sec. Additionally, multiple 1515+'s can be chained together to support up to a single 90TB array. I'll leave you with a cool photo of a NAS on fire, followed by the full press blast after the break.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
The Thecus N2560 is a dual-bay NAS Server powered by an Intel Atom SoC. With the addition of HDMI output could this be the answer for some basic HTPC needs as well?
The Thecus N2560 at work in the living room
The N2560 is similar in some ways to the Thecus N2310 NAS we looked at a couple of months ago, but it builds on both the functionality and power of that unit. Both are 2-bay designs with support for up to 8TB of storage via dual 4TB hard drives, and they run the same OS (ThecusOS 6). There are some very big differences, too. The N2560 boasts an Intel Atom SoC which provides dual 1.60 GHz cores, compared to the N2310’s single 800 MHz PowerPC core. The N2560 also features a full-size HDMI output as well as SPDIF digital audio output, making it a potential alternative for some HTPC tasks.
The Thecus N2560 is an attractive-looking device, with the smooth lines and finish of a more expensive product. But beyond the N2560's appearance and basic function as a NAS, this is really a server. Digital audio and video output is certainly an impressive addition for a device that retails for around $180, making it a compelling budget HTPC option if the OS and media software work well. Since the basics of the Thecus OS and NAS usage were covered with the N2310, the media output potential of the N2560 is the area of focus for this review.
Introduction and Packaging
Late last year, Western Digital launched their My Cloud series, first with a single-drive My Cloud, and immediately followed up with a beefier small-office product, the 4-drive My Cloud EX4. Then earlier this year, they filled My Cloud gap (so to speak), with a 2-drive variant of the EX4 - the My Cloud EX2. As the EX2 was more of a business type of NAS, it commanded a bit of a price premium as compared to competing 2-bay NAS devices. The logical solution is was for WD to expand the standard My Cloud lineup upward by adding a 2-bay device to their existing consumer line.
The My Cloud Mirror is very similar to the My Cloud EX2. You get the bulk of the same features as compared with the EX2, but with some of the more workstation / enterprise features removed. Here's a couple of slides to help explain those differences:
Packaging is simple, with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.
The N2310 is a budget dual-bay NAS from Thecus and an interesting product beyond the low cost for this category, boasting a number of features that help set it apart.
Apart from the primary role of a network attached storage (NAS) device - you know, storage - there are some interesting things a piece of hardware like the N2310 can do. This inexpensive NAS is actually a server, too, so beyond storing up to 8TB of data it’s powerful enough to replace a dedicated PC for certain tasks - the kind of tasks that some of us leave a PC running 24/7 to accomplish.
In this review we’ll take a look at some of the functionality that helps set the N2310 apart, as well as the kind of real-world performance you might expect to see.
It’s All About the Gigabytes
There are more reasons now than ever before for large storage options. Even though SSD’s are at their lowest prices ever most of us still need to supplement a fast boot drive with some traditional spinning disks. Just think about what accumulates in an average year on your PC… photos, music, videos, program backups and images, you name it. All those GB’s have to go somewhere, and there are obviously internal and external hard drives to share the load. However, regardless of the local storage option you might chose, it’s not always so convenient to actually access this stuff again. Clearly, the easier it is to access your files, the better - and not just from one device. So, having centralized storage is a great idea, right?
Between computers, tablets, and of course our phones, there are generally quite a few connected devices in the average technology-inclined home. And while every device mentioned can connect to the internet - and cloud storage has become very popular - there's still something to be said for local content management. Beyond the convenience of sharing sometimes massive amounts of data easily at home, another benefit of always-on storage is backup. Ideally, every computer in the home would be backed up locally as well as the cloud, and a great way to take care of the local side of backup is with a NAS. Setting one up is very easy these days, with a growing number of affordable options from various vendors.
Thecus makes an interesting case for a budget NAS with the N2310. For a comparison, Allyn recently looked at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2 network drive, and this is a highly polished all-in-one solution is now selling for about $199 (without drives). The Thecus N2310 is less expensive at $149, and both offer two 3.5” drive bays. (The My Cloud is also offered pre-populated with drives providing up to 8TB of storage.) These “diskless” enclosures present a good opportunity to save some money up front, and whether you choose to run on two drives you happened to have around the house or office, or if you want to go out and grab a couple of Western Digital 4TB Red drives, they can accommodate your situation.
Let’s take a look at the Thecus N2310.
Subject: Storage | April 16, 2014 - 11:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asustor, AS-204TE, NAS, xmbc
The Asustor AS-204TE is an Atom powered Linux Network Attached Storage device for home use which comes with a respectable amount of applications. uTorrent will run on the device, it is capable of communicating with the XBone Media Centre as well as iTunes as well as FTP transfers and even PLEX to allow it to connect to your mobile devices. You can install up to 16TB of storage on four 3.5 or 2.5" disks which will run at SATA II and can be set up as single disks, JBOD and RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 + Hot Spare, 6 or 10. All of those features do come with a cost, the NAS will run you almost $500 without any disks included; if the sticker shock doesn't scare you away you should read techPowerUp's comprehensive review.
"Asustor is hard at work to establish itself as a good name on the NAS scene, and they are on the right track. Today, we will take a look at the AS-204TE, which Asustor says to be the best multimedia and storage-center solution for your home because it comes equipped with all typical NAS functions, an HDMI port, and XBMC support."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Synology DS414 High Performance 4-bay NAS Server for SMB & SOHO Review @ Madshrimps
- Thecus N5550 5-Bay NAS Server and XBMC Home Theater Computer Review @MissingRemote
- ADATA AE800 DashDrive Air Review @HiTech Legion
- Zalman ZM-VE300 USB 3.0 External Drive Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Portable HDD Review @ Techgage
- Should You Select MBR Or GPT When You Install A New Drive? @ TechARP
- Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 SED 4TB SATA III HDD @ NikKTech
- Keep your SSD Healthy ADATA SSD Toolbox @HiTech Legion
- MyDigitalSSD Pocket Vault SSD @ The SSD Review
- Samsung XP941 Native PCIe M.2 SSD @ SSD Review
- Plextor M6S SSD @ SSD Review
- Plextor M6e 512GB PCI Express Solid State Drive @ eTeknix
- Crucial M550 512GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel 730 Solid State Drive @ X-bit Labs
- OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 2, 2014 - 06:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Seagate, NAS
Seagate released a network-attached storage (NAS) device intended for businesses with "up to 50 employees", called the Seagate Business 4-Bay 16TB NAS. Dominic Sharoo of NitroWare reviewed one and, obviously/hopefully, gave his opinion in the process. In short, while he liked the connectivity options, he shies away from a recommendation without a price cut and a firmware update (its built-in software is not compatible with Windows 8).
As for what it did well, he was pleased by its relatively compact chassis, USB 3.0 support, and the inclusion of dual gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. It is configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, or "JBOD" (just a bunch of drives). He also liked that, in his testing, the unit did not seem to require drives from a specific vendor. If you buy the unit already loaded with drives, they are formatted in RAID 5. For a four-bay NAS, that seems like a good default. It also uses a standard laptop power supply, which should make finding a replacement (or a spare) easy.
While the device is a mixed bag, check out his review if you are interested.
Introduction and Packaging
Last October, Western Digital launched the My Cloud. This device was essentially a network connected version of their My Book line of external hard drives, but with Internet connectivity and apps that could reach back to the My Cloud even when you were away from home. One month later, WD launched the My Cloud EX4, a much beefier version which supported redundant arrays of 4 hard disks, redundant network and power, and a load of other features. There was a rather large gap in features between these two devices, as the only RAID option was more of a small business one. Today Western Digital closed that gap:
The My Cloud EX2 is essentially a My Cloud, but with dual drive bays, and a few additional features. Check out this projected trend below:
You can see there was a definite void in the 2-drive range that needed filling. With those two drives, you get a few options for redundancy or capacity+speed:
All standard RAID options for a 2-bay appliance are met here, though the vast majority of users should opt for the default RAID-1 mirrored set.
Packaging is simple here with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 10:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, gigabyte, brix, brix max, haswell, Android, NAS
While browsing the Gigabyte suite at CES I came across a very interesting new product from Gigabyte that falls into the Brix family. The Brix Max is a larger version of the Brix SFF chassis (taller) that includes support for four 2.5-in hard drives. Powered by a 4th Generation Intel Core (Haswell) Core i5-4250U processor, this system is aimed towards the NAS market. In particular, those that want tiny NAS devices.
With a total fluid capacity of 1.2 liters (please don't fill your Brix with liquid...), the Brix Max includes a USB flash port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3.0 ports. Maybe more surprising is the fact that this unit was running Android and marks the first time we have seen a Haswell platform running the OS.
Gigabyte demoed the Brix Max powering a handful of networked devices and providing media content and backup storage for all sorts of other operating system. I am still not sure what kind of software was running on the Android OS to facilitate the NAS functionality but the Max includes the ability to set users, partition different share locations and more. Hopefully we'll be able to get a sample in at the offices to test out and let our readers know how an Android-based NAS can perform.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2014 - 09:33 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: synology, NAS, iosafe, CES 2014, CES
Here's a quick video interview with ioSafe CEO Rob Moore:
Three of these devices can be chained together, and with 6 TB drives installed, you get a whopping 90 TB of disaster-proof on-site storage!
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Full press blast after the break.