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How realistic is a NAS for main storage?

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:55 am
by Jordan
I've just bought a 64GB SSD and I'm hoping to put my existing 500GB SATA drive in a NAS for storage and add another identical drive for mirrored backup. On the NAS I'll keep photos, music etc.

My reasons for wanting a NAS in order are: centralised storage for all computers; the security of a mirrored backup; further silencing of my main PC.

Very fast access from my main PC will be vital. Can I have a separate GbLAN connection directly from my PC to a NAS box without having to go through the router? Will I still find file access pretty fast this way? The other computers will connect via wireless and speed isn't as crucial, though the ability to stream music without clipping would be useful. Our computers and laptops are wireless G equipped only.

The NAS will go in a cupboard in the same room as the main PC so it needs to be quiet enough that it won't penetrate the cupboard door, though I can knock-up some dampened enclosure to help.

Any recommendations? I am worried this will cost a small fortune buying a NAS and drive, upgrading to a Wireless N/GbLAN router and then having fit all computers with Wireless N adapters!

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:13 am
by faugusztin
Gigabit LAN is usually at 30-80MB/s speed range, depending on many factors (but most times it is closer to those 30MB/s than 80MB/s). So it is slower than most HDD's.

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:17 am
by Jordan
faugusztin wrote:Gigabit LAN is usually at 30-80MB/s speed range, depending on many factors (but most times it is closer to those 30MB/s than 80MB/s). So it is slower than most HDD's.
OK, that should still be plenty enough for accessing photos and music then. I can copy files to the SSD temporarily if I need to edit them.

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:41 am
by washu
It really depends on several factors, but with the right equipment you can push gigabit speeds towards the higher end.

First off, what NAS are you going to use? Most cheap standalone NAS boxes can't push anything close to full gigabit speed. You need a higher end NAS box or a PC acting as your NAS to get really good speeds.

Second, make sure you have PCIe NICs. PCI just wont cut it. A low end Realtek PCIe will usually have better throughput then a PCI Intel. Of course a PCIe Intel is better than both. Check any onboard chips, just because you have PCIe slots doesn't mean your onboard NIC is using PCIe instead of just PCI.

Third, your OS matters. While you can tweak XP/2003 to give good gigabit performance, Vista/7/2008 have much better performance right out of the box.

With a 2008 R2 "NAS" to my Win 7 machines I usually get between 80-100 MB/sec and that is with crappy Realtek onboard PCIe NICs. When I was using XP/2003 I only got about 30-40 without tweaking.

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:07 am
by Jordan
On W7 and no on-board GbLAN, going for PCI-E NIC :)

I am completely undecided on the NAS. Looking for advice here to meet my needs. I'm not very network savvy so building my own NAS is a little daunting :oops:

I don't want to spend too much but I will remain realistic about performance. If I can browse 4MB photos without too much lag and Winamp remains quite responsive when access my library I'll be pretty happy. I was looking at the NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo and QNAP TS-210 Turbo.

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:34 am
by washu
Can't comment on the netgear, never used one.

You can always use another W7 machine as your "NAS", so that wouldn't be hard to setup.

As to browsing photos of that size you should have no problem. Music playback is easy, even a 10 Mb network would be fine.

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:59 am
by Jordan
Great :)

X-Bit rate this Synology DS210j. Seems to have good performance and is around the £150 pricepoint with no drives.

Should I get another F1 500GB so I have identical drives for RAID1?

Lastly, do most NAS drives let you back up to an external USB drive easily?

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:30 am
by washu
An identical drive is a good idea, but not 100% required in most cases. If one drive is bigger than the other you may loose the remaining space or it may be available separately but without RAID1 protection.

Be aware that you may have to format your original drive if you put it in a Linux based NAS like that Synology. I would assume your drive is NTFS and the NAS will likely want it to be formatted as EXT3. Plan to have a place to put all your files temporarily.

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:28 pm
by Jay_S
A great source of NAS reviews is Small Net Builder:

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:37 pm
by Vicotnik
Building a NAS can also be a great way to learn a little bit about Linux. I use Ubuntu on my file server, not because it's the best OS for that kind of use, but mostly because it's fun and flexible. I can run any kind of server on that box, right now it's mostly a torrent/file server but I've also used it for Mumble, Ventrilo and games like Urban Terror.

Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:43 pm
by victorhortalives
I've been using a NAS for main storage for a few years.
Now I have 2 in regular use (Netgear Duo and Netgear NV+) and another NV+ as a once-a-week backup.
The Duo has all the active files (400GB or so) and the NV+ has all the DVD files (3TB or so).

All the cables are Cat6 with GS108T smart switches connecting the LAN segments together.

In a local loop between 2PCs I can get 93MBps through one switch using Intel PCIe NICs but to/from the NASs it tends to max at 25MBps.
The limiting item is the NAS write speed.

I agree about the choice of NIC - always go for Intel. The onboard Realtek connections are not up to the job for heavy work.

I have 2 PCs in regular use - one without an add-in card (Zotac ION B) and one with an Intel PCIe (AMD Gigabyte Mobo). With the Zotac I can only get 15MBps or so.

There are newer Netgear NAS models (NVX and Pro) that can do up to 90MBps and even newer models (just announced - Ultra).
The Ultra range will have a Duo replacement (Ultra 2) so even this should do 3x the Duo speed.

I'm going to replace my stuff with the new range at the end of this year.

Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:59 am
by washu
victorhortalives wrote: I agree about the choice of NIC - always go for Intel. The onboard Realtek connections are not up to the job for heavy work.
Not true. Realteks are fine for NAS work if they are PCIe. While far from high end, the current crop of 81XX realteks are lightyears better than the old 80XX ones. My server can easily max out gigabit with it's onboard Realtek (980-990 mbit/sec in iperf). Even my Atom board can push more out of it's onboard Realtek PCIe then a server class Intel in the PCI slot. The bus used is far more important than the chip. Problem is that not every onboard NIC is actually PCIe, but that is not a problem specific to Realteks.

Now, a PCIe Intel is of course better in that you will get lower CPU use without sacrificing throuput. If CPU time is really critical to you then get one. But getting a PCI (no "e") Intel is going to hurt raw throughput compared to a PCIe Realtek and throughput is usually what one wants in a NAS.

Re: How realistic is a NAS for main storage?

Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:19 am
by stevea
I realize this thread is old but ....

The problem w/ reaktek81xx is that they generally don't support jumbo packets and that's IMO a disaster for high performance.

WRT NAS speed. A disk may have a 120MBPS sequential transfer rate, but after introducing non-sequential access of files and the overhead of a file system one is lucky to read-access files at 35-40MBPS. So a RAID0 or else an SSD seems a necessity to get really good NAS rates.