Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo

Introduction and Packaging

Data Robotics shipped their first product 10 years ago. Dubbed the Drobo (short for Data Robot), it was a 4-bay hot-swappable USB 2.0 connected external storage device. At a time where RAID was still a term mostly unknown to typical PC users, the Drobo was already pushing the concept of data redundancy past what those familiar with RAID were used to. BeyondRAID offered a form of redundant data storage that decoupled rigid RAID structures from fixed capacity disk packs. While most RAID volumes were 'dumb', BeyondRAID was aware of what was stored within its partitions, distributing that data in block format across the available disks. This not only significantly speed up rebuilding (only used portions of the disks need be recopied), it allowed for other cool tricks like the ability to mix drive capacities within the same array. Switching between parity levels could also be done on-the-fly and with significantly less effort than traditional RAID migrations.

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While all of the above was great, the original Drobo saw performance hits from its block level management, which was limited by the processing overhead combined with the available processing power for such a device at the time. The first Drobo model was lucky to break 15 MB/s, which could not even fully saturate a USB 2.0 link. After the launch, requests for network attached capability led to the launch of the DroboShare, which could act as a USB to ethernet bridge. It worked but was still limited by the link speed of the connected Drobo. A Drobo FS launched a few years later, but it was not much quicker. Three years after that we got the 5N, which was finally a worthy contender in the space.

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10 years and nearly a dozen models later, we now have the Drobo 5N2, which will replace the aging 5N. The newer model retains the same 5-bay form factor and mSATA bay for optional SSD cache but adds a second bondable Gigabit Ethernet port and upgrades most of the internals. Faster hardware specs and newer more capable firmware enables increased throughput and volume sizes up to 64TB. Since BeyondRAID is thin provisioned, you always make the volume as large as it can be and simply add disk capacity as the amount of stored content grows over time.

Read on for our review of the Drobo 5N2!

ioSafe Launches 5-Bay Xeon-Based 'Server 5' Fireproof NAS

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2017 - 09:58 PM |
Tagged: xeon, raid, NAS, iosafe, fireproof

ioSafe, makers of excellent fireproof external storage devices and NAS units, has introduced what they call the 'Server 5':

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The Server 5 is a completely different twist for an ioSafe NAS. While previous units have essentially been a fireproof drive cage surrounding Synology NAS hardware, the Server 5 is a full blown Xeon D-1520 or D-1521 quad core HT, 16GB of DDR4, an Areca ARC-1225-8i hardware RAID controller (though only 5 ports are connected to the fireproof drive cage). ioSafe supports the Server 5 with Windows Server 2012 R2 or you can throw your preferred flavor of Linux on there. The 8-thread CPU and 16GB of RAM mean that you can have plenty of other services running straight off of this unit. It's not a particularly speedy CPU, but keep in mind that the Areca RAID card offloads all parity calculations from the host.

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Overall the Server 5 looks nearly identical to the ioSafe 1515+, but with an extra inch or two of height added to the bottom to accommodate the upgraded hardware. The Server 5 should prove to be a good way to keep local enterprise / business data protected and available immediately after a disaster. While only the hard drives will be protected in a fire, they can be popped out of the charred housing and shifted to a backup Server 5 or just migrated to another Areca-driven NAS system. For those wondering what a typical post-fire ioSafe looks like, here ya go:

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Note how clean the cage and drives are (and yes, they all still work)!

Press blast appears after the break.

Source: ioSafe

What exactly is QNAP's NASbook for?

Subject: Storage | November 29, 2016 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: nasbook, NAS, qnap, TBS-453A

Network Attached Storage is nothing new, but a NASbook certainly is.  When you think of a NAS device you might picture a box with at least two network connections and limited controls on the device with a web based GUI.  QNAP have created something very different in the TBS-453A, a NAS in a notebook-like form factor with a lot of extra functionality.  You will find two HDMI v2.0 ports, two 3.5mm microphone jacks and an audio line out as well as a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports and three gigabit switch ports as it can function as a router, along with a total of four USB 3.0 ports and a single USB 2.0 port.   Unfortunately it lacks 10GbE ports which it would benefit from as it hides inside it four M.2 SATA 6Gbps SSDs which can easily overwhelm a gigabit connection, especially if multiple clients are accessing data simultaneously.

Curious what it is capable of and how well it performs?  Check out Nikktech's review.

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"Although we all like the concept behind the new TBS-453A NASbook by QNAP quite honestly it feels ahead of its time mainly due to the current pricing of M.2 SSDs and lack of one or more 10GbE ports."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Nikktech

Thecus Announces N4810 4-Bay NAS with 4K Video Output

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: UHD, Thecus, storage, NAS, N4810, N2810PRO, htpc, hdmi, DisplayPort, 4k, 4-Bay

Thecus has announced their newest NAS with the N4810, an 4-bay design based on the existing N2810PRO 2-bay model. The N4810 offers up to 40 TB of hard drive storage support, and an Intel Celeron N3160 (quad-core) processor with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 8GB.

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Image credit: Thecus

"With the N4810 built on the hardware of its little brother, the N2810PRO, users are equipped with the same immersive multimedia experience. Delivering superb sharpness and colour contrasts in 4K resolution playback, accessed through the HDMI output or DisplayPort output, guaranteeing that the picture quality from movies is just as the director envisioned.

Connection to your digital sound system via a SPDIF output is available, providing crystal clear audio for music and movies. A new USB 3.0 Type-C port has been added to the three already equipped USB 3.0 ports. This Type-C connector is the size of a microUSB and has a reversible plug allowing cables to be conveniently plugged in either direction."

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Image credit: Thecus

The NAS is geared toward the living room, with HDMI output along with DisplayPort, and display output up to UHD/4K. We took a look at the 2-bay N2560 NAS a couple of years ago, and on paper this new model offers a substantial upgrade as an entertainment/HTPC solution. Availability is set for this month.

Source: Thecus

Coming up on electronic hoarders, the Seagate 8TB NAS drive

Subject: Storage | April 26, 2016 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, 8TB, NAS

Seagate is not to be outdone by Western Digital and their 8TB Red drive and have released their own 8TB NAS HDD. The model which eTeknix reviewed is designed for SMBs and users that have a huge amount of content they plan to store in the long term.  That results in a 3 year warranty, a limit of 8 drives in a NAS and rated workload of 180TB per year, somewhat less than the Enterprise model, however it is also less expensive.  eTeknix uses a different battery of tests than we do here at PCPer, you can see how the drive is rated in AIDA, Anvil, Crystaldisk and others over in their full review, the numbers are similar to the WD Red drive even with the lack of a rarefied atmosphere.

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"Just as you wouldn’t use a low-end graphics card for high-end usage, you shouldn’t use the wrong hard disk drive in your storage system either. There is a reason for every product and you should always pick the one suited for the task at hand, especially when you deal with your storage. Today I’m taking a closer look at Seagate’s impressive 8TB NAS HDD and we will take a look at how well it performs."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: eTeknix

DroboAccess Enables SSL Encrypted Remote File Access for Drobo 5N and B810n

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: SSL, remote access, NAS, DroboAccess, drobo, B810n, 5N

We are currently testing a round of Drobos here at PC Perspective, and Drobo recently rolled out a new feature that I thought would be better written up as a quick news post. This is a remote access feature that applies to the NAS-style models, specifically the 5N and B810n, and leverages the Drobo Apps capabilities of these devices. If you are a current 5N or B810n owner, you can update your Dashboard application and firmware to unlock this newly announced ‘DroboAccess’ feature.

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DroboAccess falls under the ‘myDrobo’ category of Drobo Apps. These are apps developed and supported by Drobo (as opposed to coming from a third party). With Drobo more involved in the end-to-end aspect of this process, they were able to work some additional magic into their implementation:

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After a Drobo owner registers their device, they can install any/all of the supported apps (DroboAccess, Koken, and Wordpress). Upon registering, each app prompts for a public URL (a subdomain of .mydrobo.com). Drobo handles the behind-the-scenes registration of a 2k SSL certificate which is installed in the chain, which means that any browser access to the new subdomain is over an SSL (HTTPS) end-to-end encrypted connection. Drobo has set up a relay server that manages incoming internet connections to the 5N or B810n. Home NAT routers are not an issue as the device running the app maintains an outbound link to the same relay server. This eliminates any custom router configurations / port forwarding necessary on the user-side of things, and that free SSL cert keeps prying eyes out of the data coming across the wire. I stepped through this process myself and it was about as simple and seamless as it could possibly be. Once set up, I could browse to (chosen subdomain).mydrobo.com from any internet-connected browser and see the files on the B810n:

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The interface is similar to what you’d see from other remote access apps (Dropbox, etc). There is also an iPhone and Android app available, but Drobo has chosen to charge $0.99 for this app - an odd choice given the vast majority of remote file access companion apps are free downloads. I spent some time with the iOS app and while functional, I found it a bit clunky in its current form. As an example, sending a photo to DroboAccess from the iOS Share Menu gave an ‘Upload to’ prompt with no ability to choose a destination folder (images were simply dumped in the root, which is *not* mountable on the local network - only subdirectories of root are mountable on the LAN). This means that you would have to log into the Drobo via web browser to access those uploads and move them to shares so they would be visible to local SMB-connected machines.

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In testing browser access, I discovered a few more issues:

  • The data throughput rate appears to be capped at 8 Mbps by the myDrobo relay server.
  • Downloading files >2GB failed silently, resulting in a 0-byte file placed on the host.

…so while things are a bit rough around the edges right now, the setup was quick and painless, which was Drobos initial goal for this feature roll out. We’ve fed back our findings thus far, and I suspect the other parts should receive more polish and tweaking over the coming weeks. I’ve include Drobo’s press blast for DroboAccess after the break.

Source: Drobo

Synology Launches Portable DS416slim 4-Bay 2.5" Drive NAS

Subject: Storage | March 31, 2016 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: synology, SOHO, network storage, NAS, media streaming, DSM, ds416slim

Synology recently revealed a new small and lightweight NAS for home and small business users. The DS416slim is a small networked attached storage device that uses up to four 2.5" SATA drives to offer up to 8TB of storage that can be used for backups, media streaming, file synchronization, and offsite storage thanks to its dual core ARM processor and DiskStation Manager 6.0 operating system.

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This new NAS is fairly compact at 7.24" x 6.61" x 9.05" (18.4cm x 16.8cm x 23cm) and weighing just over one and a half pounds (700 grams). It is roughly rectangular with the front decked out in status LEDs and a single USB 3.0 port. The laptop-sized hard drives (up to 12.5mm so basically any 2.5" SATA drive will work) are loaded vertically into the unit using snap-in drive trays that slide into the back. The back panel also holds dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a second USB 3.0 port.

Interestingly, the DS416slim supports link aggregation as well as failover and load balance modes depending on your settings. Using link aggregation to connect to a Windows PC, Synology rates transfer speeds at up to 177 MB/s reads and 77 MB/s writes. Using a single Gigabit link the NAS can hit read speeds up to 112.77 MB/s.

With all four drives installed, users can choose from all the usual RAID suspects including RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10. Of course, single volumes and JBOD are also options with the total raw storage capacity being 8TB (4 x 2TB hard drives or solid state drives). A bottom-mounted removable 60mm fan module keeps the drives running cool and reportedly the Synology NAS has noise levels of 20.3 dBA.

Internally, the NAS is powered by a dual core Armada 385 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz with dedicated hardware encryption engine and 512 MB of DDR3 memory. The also recently released DSM 6.0 OS allows the NAS to be a backup destination for multiple PCs, a media server, file synchronization hub, and a source to sync files to all the various cloud storage providers for offsite backup. Synology's browser-accessed OS GUI also lets you add various services and features using downloadable applications to expand its out-of-the-box functionality (e.g. torrent box).

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The front and rear USB 3.0 ports can be used to easily transfer data to or from external hard drives to make offsite backups easy. The DS416slim is interesting in that its small size makes it a nice portable option for video editors, photographers, or other small business users that need on site access to lots of fast file storage at various job sites. The use of laptop hard drives means that storage is going to be a bit more expensive per GB and not quite as fast, but the drives are built a bit more robustly when it comes to moving them around versus your standard desktop drive. I do wonder about the reliability versus 3.5-inch drives over time, but the difference is likely marginal today and the lower power usage is much more suited to SOHO NAS duties. I would like to see this decked out with RAIDed SSDs though!

Synology rates the laptop-drive inspired NAS at 17.17W during disk access and 11.63W power usage while the drives are hibernating.

The Synology DS416slim comes with a 2 year warranty and with be avaialable early next month and retail (without drives) for around $290 (Amazon lists it at $289+shipping though once more units are available I would expect it to drop a smidge in price).

Source: Synology

The BayTrail powered lASUSTOR AS5002T 2-Bay NAS

Subject: Systems, Storage | February 10, 2016 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: asustor, AS5002T, NAS, htpc, baytrail

Being in the market for a Plex server and running low on patience and spare hardware I have been sniffing around NAS servers, which is why you are now reading about the ASUSTOR AS5002T.  Missing Remote just picked this NAS up for review, powered by a dual core Celeron J1800 clocked at 2.4GHz instead of an ARM processor.  The reason that matters is the inclusion of Intel HD Graphics onboard for real time encoding when streaming to remote devices.  On the other hand it is not the most modern of processors and the AS5002T also showed some peculiarity with drive sizes.  The processor is not going to be able to push 4k over some interfaces but HDMI 1.4a, IR control capability and broad support for the usual selection of HTPC programs does make this NAS a good fit for many.  Read the full review to get a better idea of the capabilities of the ASUSTOR AS5002T.

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"The ASUSTOR AS5002T is the first Intel based network attached storage (NAS) device tested at Missing Remote. So, I was very curious to see how its dual-core 2.4GHz Celeron J1800 would stack up against the strong showing we’ve seen from ARM Cortex-A15 based systems recently."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Synology Launches DiskStation DS416j NAS

Subject: Storage | January 13, 2016 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: synology, NAS, DSM, DS416j, diskstation

Synology has updated their popular DiskStation line with a new sleek looking 4-bay unit:

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The DiskStation DS416j is equipped with a Marvell Armada 88F6828 dual-core CPU running at 1.3 GHz coupled to 512MB of DDR3. This boost in specs enables a claimed 37% increase in write speed performance, bringing that spec up to just over 100 MB/sec. Reads are claimed at 112 MB/sec, which basically means it is saturating its Gigabit Ethernet link.

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In addition to the four installed HDDs, the DS416j can accept additional external drives via its rear panel USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports (one each). The new DSM 5.2 should run even smother and faster on this updated hardware. Despite the speed increase, the new model looks to be very power efficient, claiming 13W in hibernation (HDDs spun down) and 22W during access.

Full press blast appears after the break.

Source: Synology

CES 2016: SilverStone CS380 and CS280 Enclosures

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 10, 2016 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, NAS, mini-itx, enclosure, CS380, CS280, CES 2016, CES, case, atx case

SilverStone had a pair of CS Series enclosures on display at CES this year, with both ATX and Mini-ITX form-factors covered with these storage-oriented designs.

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Beginning with the larger CS380, an enclosure that had previously been shown at Computex in a Micro-ATX form-factor. This slightly modified final version now supports a standard ATX motherboard for additional build flexibility, but this enclosure is really all about the hard drives. With eight 3.5-inch HDD trays up front (along with a pair of 5.25-inch bays that can each be replaced with hot-swap HDD trays, sold separately), there is plenty of storage space for a NAS or storage server build.

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Inside, a pair of 120 mm fans keep the hard drives cool, and while the bare metal interior looks plain by modern standards these CS Series enclosures were build with enterprise standards in mind. The rest of the interior is pretty standard for an ATX enclosure, with a bottom PSU placement, 120 mm rear fan, and 7 expansion slots.

The smaller of the two storage enclosures, the CS280, is a mini-ITX design that scales storage support down to 2.5-inch drives.

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Offering 8 HDD/SSD trays and supporting standard mini-ITX motherboards with up to a 2-bay, full-height expansion card, the CS280 provides a lot of build flexibility. While it would make a very compact storage server or hold a tremendous amount of SSD storage for a high-speed NAS, the CS280 could also house a compact, high-power gaming rig with a GPU like AMD's R9 Nano - if you desired this much storage support, that is. 

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Panels in the front of both cases allow view of HDD activity lights

The two enclosures differ beyond size as the CS380 has a plastic front panel/door, and the smaller CS280 features a brushed aluminum front panel and a more rounded appearance. These enclosures will be priced a little higher than typical consumer drives given their construction and purpose, but we will await final retail pricing (and availability) to see where they fit in the market.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: SilverStone