I just found out that my Dad's linux server (known as "Ward"), which was mainly acting as a file server for his Windoze boxes, recently lost the will to live. We're toying with the idea of either replacing its guts with some old stuff I have, or maybe getting one of those new-fangled home network storage appliances.

Ideally, I think we'd like an appliance that can take two standard IDE or SATA disks, put them in a RAID-1 mirror, and share that with Windows, Linux, and Macintosh computers on the home network. It should be administered via a web interface but also have telnet or SSH based access. As a bonus, it'd be great if the device provided a snapshot, backup, or versioning system of some kind.

Anyway, I'm only beginning the research into what's available, but if you have a recommendation, we'd appreciate it.

Posted by jzawodn at May 09, 2005 06:44 PM

Reader Comments
# Chris Malanga said:

Have you thought about anything from axentra.net? They make both server appliances and software.

on May 9, 2005 06:51 PM
# Mike said:

Is your Mom's server named "June"?

There are some NAS's at Newegg:

FASTORA NAS-T4 4x IDE, 1.2 TB Network Storage 1 Fast Ethernet & 1 Gigabit Ethernet with fail-over

BUFFALO HD-H1.OTGL/R5 1TB Network Attached Storage RJ-45

Main page:

These things seem rather expensive, but I guess after you factor in the hard drives, power supply, RAID card (if not software), and whatever else is in them...

on May 9, 2005 09:25 PM
# Jeff Lindsay said:

Linksys finally came out with a network (wireless in fact) device you can hook external drives up to... well only two. It's not quite a RAID, but it's pretty close to an appliance and is a really nice network storage solution, for cheap.

on May 9, 2005 10:18 PM
# tim said:

The Linksys NSLU2 has a great user community (search : unslung), only costs ~$75 and will take 2 USB2 HDs. It will backup drive 1 to drive 2 (not really RAID 1 I don't think, but maybe close enough?). My only complaint? Windows XP, firewalls and home networking (guaranteed to drive you insane). This of course has little to do with the NSLU2. It's a pretty cool little device.

on May 9, 2005 10:31 PM
# Scott Hanson said:

I have a NSLU2 with Unslung, and I'm real happy with it. I haven't set up a RAID with it, but apparently it can be done.

on May 10, 2005 12:00 AM
# Scott Hanson said:
on May 10, 2005 12:01 AM
# A not so distant relative... said:

Actually, June is the other Linux box in the room;-)

Beaver is an old IBM 700E setting next to ward.

I'm @ werk posting from Eddie Haskell.

So, I'm giving my age away...

The Geezer and curmudgeon in training :-)

on May 10, 2005 04:45 AM
# RichB said:

I've been running the 1Tb Buffalo Terastation for 2 weeks now. I access it from Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Ubuntu Linux.

Overall, I like the machine. It's heavy and therefore feels very solid. It's fairly quiet and only the base gets a little warm.

I have it configured as RAID 5. I've found it slow to read and write data (as has been mentioned elsewhere) - but I suspect that may be due to performing the RAID5 parity in software on the 266Mhz PowerPC which runs the unit. I plan on reformatting as a RAID1 device to test performance at some point.

The terastation has so many features it makes you lust for more. eg It has 4 USB sockets for plugging in external USB harddrives. However, NTFS support on those drives is readonly. It supports sharing of folders as SMB, AppleTalk and FTP (although the FTP file structure is a bit unusual). I wish it would do rsync too.

The web interface is reasonably good - The only bug I've seen is where the description I entered for an external USB disk was copied to all the shared folders.

Mapping those network drives via SMB into Windows Explorer sometimes detects them as a RAW file format and neglects to give it a name in Explorer and is unable to detect support for more than 8.3 filenames. This only happens occaisionally and only if I try to map the drive into a drive letter. As the Terastation runs Linux, this is probably a Samba bug. Using the Terastation as a print server seems to work fine.

I've not touched any of UPS, AppleTalk or automated backup features.

on May 10, 2005 04:49 AM
# James E. Robinson, III said:

Another plug for the NSLU2. Very happy with it; just be sure the throughput will keep up with your requirements...as with any NAS device.

on May 10, 2005 06:43 AM
# Matt said:

NSLU2 has worked well for me; it can also act as an SMB client to connect to multiple computers and do backups.

I'm also rather pleased with the Ximeta Netdisk series. It uses its own drivers and network protocol and shows up as a local disk instead of a network drive. (sort of a poor man's iSCSI) I've only used it on my Windows machines, but I think there may be Mac and Linux drivers available.

on May 10, 2005 07:31 AM
# Haidong Ji said:

Check out Terra server. It is Linux based and just for backup purposes. I don't use it myself but heard a lot of good words about it.



on May 10, 2005 08:04 AM
# rr said:

This thread on the BTS mentioned above may be interesting.


I bought one from buy.com but RMA'd it because Buffalo uses cardboard instead of foam to pack the things and it had completely collapsed into a pile at the bottom of the box. The unit was probably fine, but I'm not about to spend $1K on something that's been bouncing around inside its box on it's way to me.

I haven't decided whether to buy another. At $1/GB, the price is pretty attractive. Apparently it does RAID5 in software or can give you two hardware RAID1 volumes (no RAID10). The throughput is pretty thin in RAID5 (something like 5.4MB/s write, 11.4MB/s).

on May 10, 2005 11:02 AM
# Mike said:

There's no server named "Wally"? ;P

on May 10, 2005 11:04 AM
# A not so distant relative... said:


Lumpy before Wally ;-)

on May 10, 2005 12:06 PM
# Rob Labatt said:

I have a two drive SNAP server NAS box for my data and it is not only cheap, but it will e-mail me to go to Fry's and but a replacement drive if one drive fails. I bought it off eBay about 2 years ago and have it configured with 2 120GB drives RAID-1. I did have to upgrade the drives from the 40GB ones that came with it - easy enough to just swap the old for the new and no firmware troubles to speak of.
My $0.02. Good luck.


on May 11, 2005 07:13 AM
# odograph said:

I'd get some stuff from the recycling center, mirror the disks, and run it until it dies. Total cost, probably $100-200.

(My linux-based home file server is a ~1 GHz Dell that was being sent to the recycler as worthless.)

on May 11, 2005 08:54 AM
# Keith Ivey said:

We've had two 1-TB Buffalo TeraStations for a month now, and just got a third. I configured them as RAID 5. So far we're happy with them. Our data is mostly written once and then just read, and speed isn't a huge concern. I was surprised by the styrofoamless packing as well, but they seem to have survived shipping.

They're cute, with lots of blinkenlights, though it is annoying that red lights come on when they're 90% full, and the threshold isn't adjustable -- warning when there's 75 GB of free space is excessive.

There's no ssh, telnet, or other access to the operating system, as far as I can tell, so they wouldn't meet that part of your requirements. Everything's done through a web interface.

on May 11, 2005 12:46 PM
# Monkey Boy said:

I to will soon be in the market for a big NAS appliance. I read many reviews about the TeraServer and have talked to some folk that have one. I'm only mildly impressed. One the other hand the ReadyNAS does do everything you seem to want (including snapshots) can can be found barebones style on eBay for about $600. I have no experience with it yet but I will soon. :) You can read a review here: linky

The company site is here: http://www.infrant.com/

on May 12, 2005 12:17 AM
# Monkey Boy said:

Ok the linky doesn't work... Google it and you will find it... I think it should ba called "The Beav" :)

on May 12, 2005 12:19 AM
# RichB said:

There were 3 cardboard boxes to undo before I got to my Terastation. Which is lucky, because the hapless delivery men had left it by the path to my front door and it had spent several hours sitting under a gutter overflow getting drenched.

Everything seems fine though.


on May 13, 2005 05:28 AM
# rjsjr said:

I recently bit the bullet and upgraded to a real raid array (I've had mini raid 0 or 1 arrays on the desktops with build in controllers for a while). It's high performance, very reliable, and easy to manage.

After a bunch of research, I ended up with a 3ware 7506-8 (8 ide raid channels on 64bit/66mhz pci but backwards compatible) and 8 wd2500jbs (250g 8mb ide/100 drives) in hot swap array with one hot spare (I already had a bunch of those drives). I probably wouldn't have bought that high end for just my own uses (working on starting up a company in my free time), but at about $1K it really isn't that bad for some high performance, high reliability storage.

It sits in an athlon linux fc3 file server. I can run regular backup services for all of the other machines to it, host a wide array of media, get pretty high database performance without dedicated partitions, and stream out itunes via daapd easily. All without having to worry too much about offline backups or hardware. Yes, its pricier and a little more complicated than a network attached harddrive, but its a lot bigger, more flexible, and more reliable as well.

on May 15, 2005 10:55 PM
# jbetancourt said:

After much reading I settled on the ReadyNAS X6. Very surprisingly, so far it works as advertised and has great features.

on November 12, 2005 09:08 PM
# Framemaker FDK Hacker said:

Here's my thing about these appliances:

I am right now up against the wall on a data recovery from a Snap Server 2200.

The Snap was convenient and easy to set up and use, and served us well (or seemed to) for a couple of years... now, though, we are betrayed!

The problem with this device is that it uses some completely impenetrable system for representing disk partition information-- you can't figure out what partitions exist (no partition table in the normal place), what filesystem is used (undocumented), or how to read the disk with anything but the appliance itself (which at the moment appears to be hosed). So in the event of a failure, your data's really and truly gone, unless you want to go to the disk recovery guy and cough up $4K.

As it happens, one drive in a mirrored RAID setup failed, and so I had my sister ship me the server so I could get data off the other drive, and something happened in shipping that made that drive unrecognizeable by the appliance (though it is recognized by a PC, and other drives are recognized by the appliance).

So I'd be reluctant, even with RAID, to use something that used a nonstandard or undocumented file system that couldn't be read on a normal PC. I think my next server will be a Linux-based or even Windows XP-based PC, small, with a RAID controller and 2 drives, so I don't have to worry about this stuff any more.


on March 20, 2007 05:28 PM
# Paul said:

How about FreeNAS or Openfiler?

on June 5, 2007 03:42 AM
# said:

I'm doing the same thing so I found here on google.
I would like to share what I found. The NAS looks promising:

Deep review of the 1-bay NAS:

NFS, AFP, SMB/CIFS supported; FTP server, File Server, DLNA media Server, PHP+MySQL supported, Remote NAS-to-NAS Backup, ...12-in-1 server.

Their 2-bay one:

on August 19, 2007 10:14 AM
# george said:

I use a NSLU2 with firmware V2.3R63 and two hard disk (one is FAT and the other ext3 format). At my intranet it support greek language character but when i connect from the internet via ftp it don't display greek characters.
Please informe if firmware unslung 6.X support Unicode characters and correct this problem
Thank, george

on September 16, 2007 01:22 PM
# Craig said:

I am using the Linksys NSLU2 with two (2) SeaGate FreeAgent USB drives at 500 GB each. I have the unit configured to use drive #2 as a backup of drive #1. This backup occurs every night. The NSLU2 is a Linux box, and although it will support FAT and NTFS drives, I use the Linux EXT3 journaled format, which is very robust. Backup winds up being changes only, so after the initial backup, the daily backups only take a few minutes.

The unit has built-in FTP server, and web based administration.

on October 4, 2007 09:54 AM
# Marcello Sales said:

Is there any of those with built-in subversion for version control? I just bought a Iomega Home Network 500GB and I don't see any SSH support... I wanted to have version control on all the files...


on October 16, 2007 05:25 PM
# CC said:

It's axentra.com ;) I use their Ethernet Mini Home Edition and love it.

on June 3, 2009 11:17 AM
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