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SoHo NAS With Good Network Throughput?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the small-office-home-office dept.

Networking 517

An anonymous reader writes "I work at a small business where we need to move around large datasets regularly (move onto test machine, test, move onto NAS for storage, move back to test machine, lather-rinse-repeat). The network is mostly OS X and Linux with one Windows machine (for compatibility testing). The size of our datasets is typically in the multiple GB, so network speed is as important as storage size. I'm looking for a preferably off-the shelf solution that can handle a significant portion of a GigE; maxing out at 6MB is useless. I've been looking at SoHo NAS's that support RAID such as Drobo, NetGear (formerly Infrant), and BuffaloTech (who unfortunately doesn't even list whether they support OS X). They all claim they come with a GigE interface, but what sort of network throughput can they really sustain? Most of the numbers I can find on the websites only talk about drive throughput, not network, so I'm hoping some of you with real-world experience can shed some light here."

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517 comments

SMB (0)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138949)

The network is mostly OS X and Linux with one Windows machine (for compatibility testing)

Well it looks like SMB is your best bet for compatibility. For a budget, just go with a small Linksys or Cisco device, as you can specify the hard drive and the network around it governs the speed.

Re:SMB (4, Informative)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139007)

One more thing: if it says gigabit ethernet, for me that usually means anywhere between 200-800Mbps of speed on a fairly busy network, which should suffice for large data backups in a matter of say 2-5 minutes tops for moving several gigs. Your throughput really depends on other factors, so yours may be higher or lower than mine but typically that range should suffice with the proper switching and routing equipment.

Re:SMB (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139307)

Well it looks like SMB is your best bet for compatibility. For a budget, just go with a small Linksys or Cisco device, as you can specify the hard drive and the network around it governs the speed.

This isn't really true. For *lots* of low-end NAS devices, the performance limitation is their puny CPUs, that can barely shift bits fast enough to saturate a 100M link.

Re:SMB (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139387)

Depending on their budget, linksys/netgear is cheaper, yet trades off quality as you mentioned due to lower-end hardware. For a little more (going a long ways) a smaller Cisco NAS would suffice as an out-of-the-box solution that does not sacrifice speed and throughput (depending on the model, of course).

A custom-built box, as many commenters suggested, seemed a tad inappropriate to me as he asked for an NAS device, not a server. Installing Ubuntu or whatever on it seems like more of a performance hit than a properly optimized "off the shelf" NAS box, since they most likely don't run Dbus, GNOME, Hald, bluetooth or any other desktop software atop the basic kernel and networking services.

Re:SMB (4, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139603)

A custom-built box, as many commenters suggested, seemed a tad inappropriate to me as he asked for an NAS device, not a server. Installing Ubuntu or whatever on it seems like more of a performance hit than a properly optimized "off the shelf" NAS box, since they most likely don't run Dbus, GNOME, Hald, bluetooth or any other desktop software atop the basic kernel and networking services.

While this is true, for noticably less than you'll pay for a NAS appliance, you can build a PC with vastly more CPU power and RAM (in particular, storage vendors - even with high-end, full-blown SAN solutions - are offensively stingy with cache), which will more than make up for any extra stuff that might be running.

You need to spend a LOT on an "appliance" type storage system to get something that has higher performance and/or better features than a "server". Particularly with cache, storage vendors across the board are offensively stingy (16 gigs of high-quality ECC RAM costs maybe $800, but you'll be lucky if your $100k SAN comes with half that amount).

Personally I would recommend the OP looks at Server/NAS-style "appliances" like Dell's NF500. They're the only sort of "cheap" turnkey devices he'll find that will deliver the performance he seems to want, and will probably only cost a grand or two more than DIY.

Re:SMB (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139385)

Well it looks like SMB is your best bet for compatibility.

OS X doesn't support NFS? Linux doesn't support AFP?

Besides which, don't the better NAS boxes support pretty much everything, all at once?

You could roll your own. (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138959)

FreeNAS or OpenFiler on a PC with a raid controller and GigE should work. It might even be cheaper than a NAS box.
As to OS/X support. I thought OS/X supported Windows networks out of the box. Odds are very good that if it supports Windows OS/X will work.

Re:You could roll your own. (1)

sizzlinkitty (1199479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139061)

I agree, out of the box solutions never work great and are not really dependable. My vote goes to FreeNAS OR a normal Debian installation. If network throughput is a issue, look into bonding the adapters going back to the switch.

Re:You could roll your own. (5, Informative)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139265)

My situation is similar to yours. I bought and tested several off the shelf solutions and was continuously disappointed.

My solution was an off the shelf AMD PC filled with HDD's and linux software raid.

It's MUCH Faster (90MB/Sec) then any of the NAS solutions I tested.

With Christmas specials abounding right now, HDD's are cheap. Use independent controllers for each port and a reasonable CPU. Also make sure that the GIGe interface is PCI-E.

Re:You could roll your own. (2, Informative)

AngelofDeath-02 (550129) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139533)

Sadly, my off the shelf pc is woefully insufficient ... I get 24MB/s max from a raid over gigabit ...

The pc was originally an AMD 1800+ with SDRAM.

there are 8 drives total, one boot (80 gig IDE)

7 250 gig Seagates, all IDE - Originally they were all on a separate controller, and I used a raid controller to do it (acting as ide, no raid, in this case) the 7 250 gigs are setup in a software raid5 configuration in linux. Individually hdparm rates them as 60MB/s, and the whole raid as 70MB/s but for whatever reason file transfers from the raid to the boot drive topped out at 20-30MB/s. The gigabit card was also on the same PCI bus. However, copying from the boot drive over the network went at 50MB/s.

Thinking it might be a PCI bus limitation somehow, I moved the raid into a newer motherboard, sporting a 2200+ and ddr memory. Now being limited in ide controllers, all 7 drives are plugged into the raid controller in a master/slave setup. I get similar performance (average is now 23MB/s vs 20) and the gigabit ethernet controller is onboard.

I can't figure it out -_- I also don't have the money for a second raid controller (to put them all on their own channel) or to rebuild the pc with a PCI-E bus and sata.... so for now, that 20MB/s will have to be sufficient.

Re:You could roll your own. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139273)

Having to terminal in to it in a time of need and reconfigure it, or solve package dependencies on it is probably not what the poster had in mind. Speaking of which, since this is not a story why isn't this ask slashdot?

Re:You could roll your own. (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139427)

I thought OS/X supported Windows networks out of the box. Odds are very good that if it supports Windows OS/X will work.

Yes, OSX supports SMB via Samba, which means it has solid support for Windows file sharing. You can run AFP on Linux or Windows, but frankly it's not really worth it. I'd be interested to know if anyone wants to make a case that AFP is necessary, but my personal opinion is that it's only worth using if you're running an OSX server.

Re:You could roll your own. (1)

haemish (28576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139561)

I've had phenomenal success with OpenSolaris. ZFS is the coolest way to run a whitebox JBOD. The box I built can easily drive a GigE to saturation.

Cmon people... (5, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138961)

You might as well build it yourself.

Go get a lowbie Core2, mobo, good amount of ram, and 4 1TB disks. Install Ubuntu on them with LVM and encryption. Run the hardening packages, install Samba, install NFS, and install Webmin.

You now have a 100% controlled NAS that you built. You can also duplicate it and use DRBD, which I can guarantee that NO SOHO hardware comes near. You also can put WINE on there and Ming on your windows machines for remote-Windows programs... The ideas are endless.

Re:Cmon people... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139105)

If they have a windows machine for "compatability testing" and the rest of the units are Macs, you know damn well this guy couldn't "build his own"! Guy has probably never formated a floppy let alone be able to create a NAS.

Get a big fucking thumbdrive asshole! And save Slashdot headlines for important shit, like, um,...yeah! Fuck you!

Re:Cmon people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139397)

Mac users aren't helpless babies. I've been a Mac user since the early 90s and I've built plenty of PCs. It's not exactly rocket science, you know.

Re:Cmon people... (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139425)

If they have a windows machine for "compatability testing" and the rest of the units are Macs, you know damn well this guy couldn't "build his own"!

For what it's worth, I have worked in a place that almost exactly matches that description -- ton of macs, some leftover Windows PCs (rarely if ever used), and I ran Linux.

Everyone in that office could have built their own, if they had a reason to.

It is possible to actually like a Mac and not be technically illiterate / incapable of assembling a PC.

Re:Cmon people... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139539)

Yeah, it's not like a mac runs UNIX or has a freeBSD userland with a full ports tree or anything.

Re:Cmon people... (1)

emmons (94632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139415)

I'll second this with a couple notes:

Encryption isn't so important unless you're worried about someone coming in and physically stealing your hardware, but it will complicate setup a bit and will slow down IO a bit (depending on CPU speed).

Webmin is great for this type of thing.

Your network connection is the limiting factor here. On large sequential reads, modern SATA drives with a mobo's onboard controller can easily maintain the 100MB/s or so it takes to max out your gigE connection.

Spend your money on some decent networking kit that can actually get you close a full 1 Gb/s. If you're only getting 6 MB/s with your current 100Mb/s hardware that tells me you've got some crappy hardware and/or bad wiring. Work on that.

None (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138987)

If you want decent throughput build it yourself. Seriously. I have a coworker that bought 5 different NAS devices to do a bakeoff for a small skunkworks office and they all sucked for throughput. We ended up buying a $1K NAS that still wasn't great but sure beat all the SOHO ones. Numbers were ~8MB/s max on the fastest SOHO unit vs 25MB/s on the midrange one.

Re:None (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139325)

That mirrors my experience with a ReadyNAS NV+ - reliable, not particularly cheap, slow. For my purposes (just a backup of terabytes of photographic images) it's fine. For anything needing throughput, I'd roll my own.

I'd avoid Drobo as well. Although cute and brainless it's really not a NAS (has to be hooked to firewire or BogForbid, USB2. Software is proprietary and they use a non standard RAID format.

Re:None (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139437)

Software is proprietary and they use a non standard RAID format.

Sounds exactly like ReadyNAS.

Not that it matters, as a user -- doesn't it just present itself as a mass storage device, no software needed on the host box?

dedicated PC (4, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139013)

In terms of cost/benefit ratio, nothing beats a stripped down PC with a lot of drives stuffed in it or in an external esata enclosure. I run a HP NAS MV2020, and a linksys NAS200 and they both cant hold a candle to a PC in throughput. Ive heard of some commercial systems out there, but they cost a small fortune. Just my $.02

Re:dedicated PC (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139205)

I've had a similar experience. When I decided I wanted to make myself a small home file server I just took an old 3GHz P4 and put it into a new case with a big hard drive cage. Add a SATA card and a couple terabyte drives and I've got a nice Gigabit NAS setup with a much faster processor / RAM than anything you're going to get in a consumer level NAS. Best of all, I only had to spend money on the hard drives and the SATA card. Everything was already laying around.

Re:dedicated PC (0)

willow (19698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139413)

Is this OK?

"They're saying their sister is loose but you're going to lose if you go there."

Re:dedicated PC (0)

willow (19698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139471)

Amend to:

"They're saying their sister is loose but you're going to lose your head if you go there."

HP Media Vault may work out for you (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139021)

According to the CNET reviews I saw,located at http://reviews.cnet.com/external-hard-drives/hp-media-vault-mv2020/4505-3190_7-32104518-2.html [cnet.com] the actual 5GB copy tests they did show it being faster than the rest, even one other system using RAID5

Re:HP Media Vault may work out for you (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139071)

Replying to state that the unit they reviewed, the mv2020, is compatible with MAC, Linux, and Windows, as shown below:

        * Min Operating system Linux, Apple MacOS , Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional SP4

More from the review: ...the Media Vault is quite a speed demon at both reading and writing. In the CNET Labs' tests, it averaged 15 minutes, 12 seconds to write a 5GB folder of mixed file types from the PC to the Media Vault. It read the same folder back in 13 minutes, 25 seconds. None of the other NAS units we've tested beat the Media Vault's read or write times.

Re:HP Media Vault may work out for you (2, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139353)

I hate to point this out, but 5G in 15 minutes is about 5 megabytes per second.

GigE peak theoretical throughput is like 125MB/s.
Consumer grade hard drives can average throughput in the 60MB/s range.

If this is the fastest NAS solution they tested and CNET is thrilled with their blazing 5MB/s sustained throughput to the NAS - I don't want one.

I'm going to have to suggest going with a cheapo 2.8GHz HyperThreaded P4 based 'server' w/ GigE, 1G of RAM and a few SATA drives on a RAID controller. Use whatever OS you're familiar with, set it up as shared space and get the bandwidth your application needs.

Drobo (1)

rhuddusa (240650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139041)

Just got a drobo myself with a droboshare front end. I did some testing and can get about 15 MB/s reads with 13 MB/s writes with 4 250 gig seagate hard drives. i was hoping for more speed, but traded it for the other features of the drobo. tested on a GigE network.

Some quick&dirty SMB file transfer numbers (1)

Ekuryua (940558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139051)

I have both a dlink DNS-323 and a readynas duo (netgear), and they're dealing fairly decently on GbE.(though the netgear does quite better) Typically that's ~30MB/s with my dns-323 in RAID1, and ~40MB/s with the netgear. Still far from full GbE saturation, but seeing how cheap they are, and easy to replace/manage(as well as being compact) they're quite useful imho.

ReadyNAS (2, Informative)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139059)

We have a ReadyNAS 1100, it's alright, but I wouldn't call it stellar. I get around 80Mb/sec to it over the network, but the management interface is IE only (as far as I can tell, since it has problems with FF and Chrome), and it has these odd delays when opening shares and browsing directories. Some of the nice features are the out-of-the-box NFS support and small, 1U size.

Re:ReadyNAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139159)

I manage my ReadyNas Duo entirely on a Mac, usually in Safari without issue. Are you on the latest RAIDiator?

I'd say that mine keeps up with the network just fine. We have an Intel one at work, and it's as slow as a dog.

Re:ReadyNAS (1)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139249)

You know I actually just assumed that the new RAIDiator would work the same with Webkit and didn't even try it out with Chrome since it was only a minor revision. Good to know.

Re:ReadyNAS (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139381)

I've been using the ReadyNas (NV+) web interface on FF 2 and 3 for a couple of months. Just checked, still works. I assume you mean the "Frontview" application?

Re:ReadyNAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139207)

I have 2 Infrant (Now netgear) ReadyNAS NV+ the throughput is 80MB/sec and the unit does have issues with Safari and Firefox 3.0 but the latest radiator update does fix that.

Worked on Buffalo's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139069)

I worked on an older version of Buffalo's NAS. It has a good, standard design (how you would probably do it if you were rolling your own anyway) and has good throughput, but it may try to do a lot of extra work if you are uploading media to it due to some media streaming capabilities in some versions.

Dlink DNS-323 (2, Insightful)

speeDDemon (nw) (643987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139073)

I have evaluated a few different products (I have a retail store) and so far I have been very happy with the DLINK DNS-323 [dlink.com.au]
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with DLINK other than I stock some of their goods

Re:Dlink DNS-323 (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139131)

I had a DNS-323 and never could get what I would consider good throughput with it (why bother with gigabit when it can barely fill 100 megabit). I ended up building a cheap PC out of spare parts and a few new things for not a lot more than the DNS-323, and it performs much better.

Re:Dlink DNS-323 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139557)

Mod up. I can get 10MB/sec on 100mbit via on mine. And fun_plug is great.

Not Buffalo (1)

rworne (538610) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139085)

They have neat solutions, but their throughput is horrible. They support GigE, but the CPUs they use in their boxes are so underpowered they never achieve anything reasonably higher than 100-base-T (if that).

I'd post links, but typing "Buffalo NAS throughput" in google comes up with multiple hits of reviews complaining about throughput.

Mac Mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139093)

If you're going to buy a NAS we've found the QNAP ones give around 30 to 40 mbps

however

if you have os x clients if you use an os x machine then they will be able to search the drive with spotlight. any other operating system and they will have to do a normal slow search.

Re:Mac Mini (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139187)

I second that. It works, it is way faster than those nasty NAS with crappy linux distributions fitted into a 400mhz processor, and you can simply attach external usb drives for more space in hot-swap.

Besides, the external HDs may fit as a time machine.

Have you though about the apple's Time Capsule?

Addonics NAS - usb connector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139103)

Addonics NAS [addonics.com] is a $55US device with a USB on one side and RJ45 on the other. I dont know anything about it other than it was written up recently on Gizmodo [gizmodo.com]

"For only $55, Addonics claims that this tiny gadget can easily turn any USB storage device into a full-fledged Network Attached Storage (NAS) server with support for both SMB and FTP access."

Re:Addonics NAS - usb connector (1)

Gary0G (526256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139503)

From the Addonic FAQ [addonics.com]: "The NAS adapter supports only FAT32 file system at this time." Back to shopping for a NAS...

Infrant (now netgear is awesome) (1)

Wild_dog! (98536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139115)

Infrant Ready NAS+ is very nice. I have had it on my gigaE network with OSX Ubuntu and Windows XP MCE as well as various other machines and laptops running win2k and XP professional. It is very fast and snappy with gigaE. I had been running it on a slower network and it was still able to reliably stream video content and simultaneously do large file transfers without a hiccup. With the HP procurve gigabit ethernet switch it is all just much faster. I am not a technical user, but it has been very reliable with no problems and seems very very speedy. Big thumbs up for this option.

Synology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139117)

Synology [synology.com] has a fair amount of good data on their website, and I've found the interface to be nice, though I'm a lite user. They're one of the relatively few companies that I've read about that has consistently good reviews. Their items are pricey, however.

Timely (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139135)

I'm in the same boat as of last week. I have 2 machines, an XP box and a Linux server, both with GbE adapters from different manufacturers (Intel and Broadcom). Last week I decided to reduce a few TV programs I had captured using the firewire connection from my cable box. One was about 12 GB. Nothing like transferring a 12 GB file to clue you in to the fact that the little router you THOUGHT was doing 100 Mbps is actually only doing 10 Mbps. What a nightmare. So now I'm also looking for something that can support my GbE adapters. The router I can replace, but even if it did handle 100 Mbps traffic, even that would be too slow for these files.

Buffalo Tech Mac compatibility (2, Informative)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139141)

I have a Terastation 2 (by Buffalo) and I am plugged into 100Mbps ethernet at work, so I can't tell you about the throughput, but I can tell you that the Terastation Mac stuff is very half-assed. I couldn't get AFP/Appletalk to work at all and while SMB is rock solid for large files, it cannot handle large amounts of small files. It chokes on directories with huge amounts of files (not sure if that's a limitation of the Finder or the Terastation's fault, though). I had a user's backup program run amok and generate millions of tiny .tmp files over the course of about a month, and I was unable to delete them from OS X, even when waiting days. I had to use Windows Explorer, which was slow but eventually worked.

The built-in webpage used for administration is pretty terrible too. It works best with IE 6 on Windows, but even with that, sometimes the columns don't line up properly. If you misclick, you could end up changing the wrong shared folder.

On the plus side, the Terastation 2 is pretty cheap. I'd give it about a B minus in terms of what I need it to do.

Re:Buffalo Tech Mac compatibility (1)

geekmansworld (950281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139439)

I second regarding Buffalo's half-assedess.

Our organization has been using a Terastation for a few years now. While its generally a solid product for basic usage, it becomes difficult to work with when attempting any particularly complex configuration. And don't ask the Buffalo support staff for help, they don't know anything about the backend of their product.

If you're looking for flexibility, I'd recommend ditching the NAS idea entirely and going for a basic file server.

Re:Buffalo Tech Mac compatibility (1)

richard_weller (641060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139587)

I recently got a LinkStation Pro Duo 1TB for backups at work - its very slow. A Duron based box (1Ghz) with 2, 3-4 year old IDE disk's transfers data nearly twice as fast over gigabit.

I can't get it to store timestamp's properly either.

Although cheap, I would avoid Buffalo NAS boxes.

I got a linksys NSLU2 (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139147)

Great little debian server, really bad performance as a NAS. Even with Debian on there.

I like the idea of the QNAP Turbo stations - effectively a modernised NSLU2 with 256 MB of RAM and a 500MHz chip, but then I want another server rather than an actual NAS...

NAS Charts (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139151)

www.smallnetbuilder.com maintaines a NAS Chart, I find it quite complete and recent.(http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/component/option,com_nas/Itemid,190/)

Re:NAS Charts (1)

fool (8051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139245)

this site (smallnetbuilder) is the best i found doing research on similar topics recently. i am less concerned with bandwidth so was more interested in what's behind the curtain and featuresets which is covered well, but they certainly also have some bandwidth charts, including performance w/use of jumbo frames (which sounds like it might be of interest to you).

personal Drobo experience (1)

jurv!s (688306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139183)

Drobo v2 connected via FW800 maxes out at 50MBps reads and ~35MBps writes.

Go to SmallNetBuilder.com (3, Informative)

sco_robinso (749990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139209)

They have the most comprehensive benchmarks and NAS's around (that I've stumbled across, at least). Also, lots of good tests showing various things like Jumbo frames, etc. Very good overall.

I frequent the site a bit, and there's a couple tricks to getting good performance out of a NAS, or LAN throughput in general.

1. Use Jumbo Frames, period.
2. Use PCI-e NIC's, onboard or PCI just can't deliver the speeds offered by GigE. You can find smiple intel PCI-e nics for under $20.
3. Drives make a big difference, obviously.

www.smallnetbuilder.com -- Good site.

Re:Go to SmallNetBuilder.com (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139571)

I've benchmarked onboard and PCI NICs and get over 850Mb/s throughputs with iperf and netperf. Sure you could get another 50-100Mb/s with PCI-e, but that's practically a rounding error.

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139215)

Check Tom's Hardware. They reviewed the Synology DS207+ this week and have benchmarks for similar products for you to compare.

How automated is your testing? (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139227)

If your testing is highly automated, I can't help you as I don't have a lot of experience with high speed networking.

If your testing is reasonably manual, consider storing your data set on removable hard drives which are manually plugged into one computer, data is copied, then disconnected and moved to the other. A USB 2 interface will give you the most compatibility given the wide variety of hardware you're using, but perhaps there may even be hardware that does hot plugging E-SATA properly if you're willing to pay a premium.

Remember, for really high bandwidth physical media being shipped from one location to another is still a solution which should be considered.

Refund policy? (1)

arootbeer (808234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139237)

The nice thing about hardware like these is you can call up newegg, order one, play with it for 15 days, and wipe and return it if it doesn't fit your needs. I don't know exactly what your timeline is (from the question it doesn't sounds particularly time-sensitive), but unless you need the last word today, just buy the different ones you're thinking about and try them out.

Build it yourself (1)

kosmosik (654958) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139239)

Off-shelf NAS device will be not only slow but also full of various bogus bugs with which you need to wait for vendor to issue firmware update...

Just build it yourself - build a PC. You have plenty of options:

1. If you have a rack somewher buy a low end rack 2U rack server with enclosures for SATA disks and some decent RAID controller.

Or:

2. Build yourself a PC in tower enclosure. Get some Core 2 Duo mobo (cheapest), medicore ammount of RAM - SMB and NFS and AppleTalk servers with Linux operating system will eat up something like 80MB for the system and 10MB per client computer - go figure, the rest of RAM is for I/O buffers. Stuff as much as you can get SATA disks into that (like 4x 1TB). Setup it with software RAID. And you are done with it. Probably it will be much cheaper than decent NAS box (so called SoHo boxes are no worth even looking at).

Do so and you have a decent storage that is more efficent that your network.

You said about network efficency? Well - this has nothing to do with NAS box. You can have the best performing NAS box - but if your network is weak - well here goes your efficency.

So as for network buy managable switch that can cope with Linux channel bonding - with that you can bond N ethernet channels and get network transfers somewhat lower than N*interface speed.

You don't want software raid and the (cheapest) MB (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139349)

You don't want software raid and the (cheapest) MB sucks way out of data chipset also you don't have to have on board vidoe as it takes up system ram and chip set i/o even if you are useing the system for much.

you will want 2gb or more ram + dual gig-e or more in teaming + some kind of a raid card a good pci-e x4 or better one is about $250+

Yes you want software RAID and lots of memory. (2, Insightful)

Technomancer (51963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139547)

Actually, you dont want any RAID card, because it limits your upgrade and recovery options. Any modern CPU is not going to have any problems doing memcopy and XORing required for RAID.
You do want as much memory as you can afford, especially that memory is cheap now.
My little home server has 8GB of memory, it can sink huge write transfers very quickly. It uses 3 laptop SATA HDDs in RAID5 so it can take it's sweet time to write the data to HDD later because it effectively has 8GB disk cache.

Re:You don't want software raid and the (cheapest) (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139551)

What if it's for a small, say =6 person office? 4 (5400RPM) SATA drives are perfectly fine.. if they're document and spreadsheet workers. The situation is completely different if these were video editors or CAD/CAM software types. Then you need 10GBps server, hardware raid10, say 15 drives, quad-core, and max ram.

DIY is Your Best Bet (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139241)

Most of the embedded-style NAS will crap out WAY below whatever throughput you are looking for.

The trick is going to be maxing out the transfer bandwidth by identifying the bottlenecks in a Linux file server.

The most direct route I can imagine is a proper SAN and fibre channel controllers. Not cheap, but my time isn't either.

Thecus N5200 Pro NAS.. (1)

hunter44102 (890157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139255)

http://www.thecus.com/ [thecus.com] has a whole line of NAS's from SOHO to Enterprise. I believe they are linux based.

Re:Thecus N5200 Pro NAS.. (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139465)

Yes, they're Linux-based. I've just installed an ssh server on my N3200, now I have a very cheap hackable Linux box with space for 3 disks.

There's a Wiki [onbeat.dk] for more information about hacking Thecus products.

Btw, they're using netatalk for Mac-Support, which appears to work really well.

Re:Thecus N5200 Pro NAS.. (1)

hunter44102 (890157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139493)

I have the N3200 also. Will have to check out the Thecus hacks. Thanks.

Re:Thecus N5200 Pro NAS.. (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139573)

Note that you have to unzip the files there ONCE to get the .mod-file to upload to the device (which is really a .tar.gz-file). Took me a while to figure that out.

Drobo makes a great product (1)

analogueblue (853280) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139267)

I've been VERY pleased with the reliability and speed of my Drobo. If you don't want to spend the time rolling your own, dealing with linux raid drivers and related issues, etc... Just get a Drobo.

Roll your own (2, Insightful)

Phred T. Magnificent (213734) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139271)

Your best performance is likely to come by rolling your own. Off the shelf SOHO devices are built for convenience, not throughput.

Grab a PC (need not be anything top-of-the-line), a good server NIC, a decent hardware RAID card (you can usually get a good price on a Dell PERC SATA RAID on ebay), and a few SATA hard drives. Install something like FreeNAS or NexentaStor (or, if you want to go all the way, FreeBSD or Linux and Samba).

SmallNetworkBuilder or DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139279)

Just visit small network builder [smallnetbuilder.com] and look up their NAS charts. Contains benchmark for every device they ever tested.

Building your own is still strongly recommended. If you want a quality system, buy a dirt cheap HP Proliant ML115 server and four fast >1TB SATA II drives. Use software raid 10 mode (mdadm can handle this) and it'll fly. It's also reusable, I just converted mine to run whitebox VMWare ESXi without any hassles.

UnRaid: when build-from-scratch isn't fast enough (3, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139301)

Okay, unRaid is not particularly fast compared to an optimized system, but it's expandable, had redundancy, is expandable, is web managed, plays nice with windows, sets up in about 20 minutes, costs $0 for a three disc license and $69(?) for a 6 disk license.

My total unoptimized box on an utterly unoptimized Gb network (stock cards, settings, with 100 and 1000 nodes) and unmanaged switches just transferred an 8.3GB file in a hair under three minutes. From a single, cheap SATA drive to a Vista box with an old EIDE drive. Now 380Mb/s is not blazingly fast, but remember that it took almost no effort.

http://lime-technology.com/ [lime-technology.com]

No connection except as a happy customer with a 4TB media server that took longer to assemble the case than to get the SW running. If only my Vista Media Center install has been this easy.

ReadyNas NV+ (1)

davew666 (555119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139305)

I have one of these with 4x750GB seagate drives. I get 35mb/sec read and about 15-20 write. I'm using OSX on AFS and SMB shares

Look at the Promise SmartStores (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139323)

They support all platforms, including the Apple networks, include RAID. The four drive one even has RAID 5 support.

You'll have to buy drives for the unit, but they are very nice and perform well. Try and stay away from the media sharing add-ons for it, they'll lock the unit up from time to time.

Depends on how many simultaneous dataset transfers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139363)

The type of NAS will depend on how many simultaneous transfers. It wasn't said if the large datasets were being transferred sequentially or in parallel. ATA does not handle simultaneous IO as well as SCSI/FC. If they are sequentially, a NAS with ATA disks would be sufficient and RAID3 might be more optimal. If there are many simultaneous transfers then fiber channel drives and a more expensive NAS might be needed.

NAS disk architecture (5, Interesting)

anegg (1390659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139405)

If you use a single disk NAS solution and you are doing sequential reads through your files and file system, your throughput can't be greater than the read/write speed of a single disk, which is no where near GigE (1000 Gbps is about 125 MB/second ignoring network protocol overhead). So you will need RAID (multiple disks) in your NAS, and you will want to use striped RAID (RAID 0) for performance. This means that you will not have any redundancy, unless you go with the very expensive striped mirror or mirrored stripes (1+0/0+1). RAID 5 gives you redundancy, and isn't bad for read, but will not be that great for writes.

As you compare/contrast NAS device performance, be sure that you understand the disk architecture in each case and see oranges to oranges comparisons (i.e, how does each one compare with the RAID architecture that you are interested in using - NAS devices that support RAID typically offer several RAID architectures). Also be sure that the numbers that you see are based on the kind of disk activity you will be using. It doesn't do much good to get a solution that is great at random small file reads (due to heavy use of cache and read-ahead) but ends up running out of steam when faced with steady sequential reads through the entire file system where cache is drained and read-ahead can't stay ahead.

Once you get past the NAS device's disk architecture, you should consider the file sharing protocol. Supposedly (I have no authoritative testing results) CIFS/SMB (Windows file sharing) has a 10% to 15% performance penalty compared to NFS (Unix file sharing). I have no idea how Apple's native file sharing protocol (AFP) compares, but (I think) OS X can do all three, so you have some freedom to select the best one for the devices that you are using. Of course, since there are multiple implementations of each file sharing protocol and the underlying TCP stacks, there are no hard and fast conclusions that you can draw about which specific implementation is better without testing. One vendor's NFS may suck, and hence another vendors good CIFS/SMB may beat its pants off, even if the NFS protocol is theoretically faster than the CIFS/SMB protocol.

Whichever file sharing protocol you choose, its very possible it will default to operation over TCP rather than UDP. If so, you should pay attention to how you tune your file sharing protocol READ/WRITE transaction sizes (if you can), and how you tune your TCP stack (windows sizes) to get the best performance possible. If you use an implementation over UDP, you still have to pay attention to how you set your READ/WRITE buffer sizes and how your system deals with IP fragmentation if the UDP PDU size exceeds what fits in a single IP packet due to the READ/WRITE sizes you set.

Finally, make sure that your network infrastructure is capable of supporting the data transfer rates you envision. Not all gigabit switches have full wire-speed non-blocking performance on all ports simultaneously, and the ones that do are very expensive. You don't necessarily need full non-blocking backplanes based on your scenario, but make sure that whatever switch you do use has enough backplane capacity to handle your file transfers and any other simultaneous activity you will have going through the same switch.

Infrant's ReadyNAS forums (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139411)

If you check the forums on infrant's website you can get lots of real-world through-put numbers from users. I have the ReadyNAS and am quite happy with it.

Go virtual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139419)

If you have the money, why not go virtual? Put all the different operating systems on one box using VirtualBox, then they can all share the same hard drive.

This results in no reliance on network throughput, just disk read/write time.

Instead of migrating between boxes to get different environments, migrate between operating systems on the same box.

Network won't be your bottleneck. (5, Informative)

m0e (55482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139421)

Disk will always be. Since disk is your slowest spot you will always be disk I/O bound. So in effect there's no real reason to worry about network throughput from the NIC. NICs are efficient enough these days to just about never get bogged down. What you would want to look at for the network side would be your physical topology -- make sure you have a nice switch with nice backplane throughput.

About disks:

Your average fibre channel drive will top out at 300 IO/s because few people sell drives that can write any faster to the spindle (cost prohibitive for several reasons). Cache helps this out greatly. SATA is slightly slower at between 240-270 IO/s depending on manufacturer and type.

Your throughput will depend totally upon what type of IO is hitting your NAS and how you have it all configured (RAID type, cache size, etc). If you have a lot of random IO, your total throughput will be low once you've saturated your cache. Reads will always be worse than writes even though prefetching helps.

If you're working with multi-gigabyte datasets, you'll want to increase the number of spindles (ie number of disks) to as high as you can go within your budget and make sure you have gobs of cache. If you decide to RAID it, which type you use will depend on how much integrity you need (we use a lot of RAID 10 with lots of spindles for many of our databases). That will speed you up significantly more than worrying about the NICs throughput. don't worry about that until you start topping a significant portion of your bandwidth -- for example, say 60MB/sec sustained over the wire.

This doesn't get fun until you start having to architect petabytes worth of disk. ;)

Re:Network won't be your bottleneck. (1)

bunny.rabbit.3 (1433279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139549)

Wow. Just. Wow. Somebody knows their hard disk architecture.

Re:Network won't be your bottleneck. (1)

m0e (55482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139583)

Welcome to real-time processing IT. Where you either know your shit soup-to-nuts or go home crying to mommy. :D

Re:Network won't be your bottleneck. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139597)

It sounds like you do this as your day job working with big expensive NAS and SAN equipment. Yes, in those environments you'll be I/O bound long before you're disk-bound or NIC bound. Sadly, the SOHO equipment is far, far worse. By and large, their throughput ranges from sad to atrocious. See SmallNetBuilder's NAS Charts for some benchmarks that will make you weep.

Buffalo Linkstation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139431)

Hi,
      I get 15 megabytes a second out of my Bufallo Linkstation live 500 Gb. The bottlneck is (I believe) the relitavely slow ARM chip in the Linkstation. For comparison, I get 6 megabytes/s when talking to the linkstation from a fast Ethernet (as opposed to gigabit) device.

That measurement is transferring large files. It is a bit slower for many small files.

Jim.

Disk Speed Is Your BottleNeck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139467)

The problem with off the shelf NAS products is two fold: the linux installs aren't disk optimized and the disks are usually the slowest (eg - cheapest, eg - highest profit margin) the company can find.

Your best bet, hands down, is to build your own. But, at best, your "bursty" speed is going to max out around 300 - 4000 Mbps and long term transfer will approach, at best, around 40 Mbps if you're lucky. If you setup a mirrored and striped raid array, you might be able to come close to doubling that. If you get some really expensive 10k RPM disks and a high end RAID controller, you can probably double that.

Keep in mind that's for single transfers. Once you add in multiple people trying to do IO on a single controller, your performance will take a hit.

With that said, I have a first gen Buffalo LinkStation. I love it, it does exactly what I need. But, as everyone else has said, it is DOG SLOW. My brother used it without problem from OS X 10.3 - 10.5.

We run the ReadyNAS here at the office... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139477)

We have ours built out to 2GB with RAID mirroring.

Frankly the throughput and directory browsing speeds are disappointing. We are using 7200RPM 32MB cache drives. Large file copies or writes of large amounts of small files seem to take abnormally long, and our network is not congested in general.

Build it yourself (with a kit!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139485)

Just an example - http://www.mini-itx.com/2008/12/08/via-launch-artigo-a2000-barebones-storage-server

There are lots of 'kits' you can buy so you don't really have to do much.

OpenFiler and FreeNAS work really well. Most SoHo systems don't have great throughput, and are substantially more expensive. Even the DroboApps can't compete with just installing something yourself if you want to download torrents (like satellite imagery) to it.

Drobo != fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139487)

The Drobo is not fast.

My old Buffalo Linkstation sucked so bad (1)

Technomancer (51963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139499)

I have built little PC do do my file serving.
I dont know why they added gigabit port when the dinky CPU was barely capable of couple MB/s of IO.
It was 250GB ATA drive and 266MHz PPC with 64MB of memory.
My advice: build cheap small PC with Linux and software RAID. (I like software RAID better because you are not tied to particular RAID controller hardware so you can move it to newer system).
It is going to be way faster than any embedded crap.

Never underestimate the bandwidth.... (2, Insightful)

M0b1u5 (569472) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139523)

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a guy carrying a bundle of removable hard drives around the office.

Or a station wagon loaded with hard drives.

Nothing can beat them.

Thecus N2100 (2)

opk (149665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139541)

I've got an Thecus N2100 and the performance as a NAS isn't great. The CPU isn't powerful enough to take advantage of the gigE interface. For what you want, I'd get something more powerful which probably means an x86 box. For anyone who just wants a home server that doesn't consume too much electricity so can be left on all the time, a small ARM based box is great. I'm running Debian on it and it's really useful.

Roll your own (1)

Rainwulf (865585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139565)

Pulling over 70 megabytes a second using a 90 AUD motherboard, with a 80 AUD amd cpu and using silicon image sata cards with 1tb WD green caviar hard drives, and running windows 2003 standard. Now you dont have to run 2003, Solaris would be your next best bet for the beauty that is ZFS, or just run something along the lines of freenas. If the os doesnt like the onboard nic (atheros L1 in my case) you can get a PCI-E intel gigabit desktop card for 70 AUD, which should run just beautifully. Like everone said, if you want speed, dont even bother with the small nas products. Its just not going to happen. In your application you need a real proper server, and a non embedded OS.

Would not recommend the Buffalo (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139579)

I bought a Buffalo NAS about three years ago; I bought it because of the 1000base-T interface and low cost. I persevered with it for about three months, and then demanded and got a full refund from the retailer.

tiny cube pc,few drives, and openfiler or solaris (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139595)

get a small pc case such as one of the many small cube cases that come as a barebones. Put a dual core chip and 2GB ram. The you can install something like openfiler which will give you a nice web interface and the ability to do nfs,cifs,ftp,and iscsi. Alternatively, install solaris or opensolaris and use ZFS and have the ability to compress the files at the filesystem level and also do a raidz with 3 drives for reliability and speed.

either way you can bond two ethernet interfaces together for 2Gbit which should get you 80-100MB/s realworld bandwidth.

Features vs. speed (1)

eagl (86459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139601)

I have an Infrant ReadyNAS+ and it is not fast. It has a TON of features (most of which I don't use) but transfer speeds are pegged at approx 7% to 8% network utilization through a gigE switch even with jumbo frames on and an upgraded stick of ram for the NAS cache. I get the same transfer rates with 3 different computers of various types including an older laptop and a very fast gaming machine, and my transfer rates are fairly close to what others report, which tells me the bottleneck is the NAS device. There may have been some improvements in the device since infrant sold the product line, but you'll need to check their support forums to see what people are reporting with the newer ones.

If you don't need many of the easy to use features of most of the low-end NAS devices, you are probably better off rolling your own. Even using the cheap embedded raid chips on consumer mobos and what you would probably consider a bottom-end cpu (like a single core celeron) is going to get you faster transfer rates than many of the NAS devices on the market. There are a few ready to go home router linux distributions that ought to be fairly secure and feature-rich, and they will probably grossly outperform a consumer level NAS box. The only tradeoff will probably be power
consumption, however if you pick decent components, allow the cpu to throttle down, and let the drives halt when not in use, you can minimize the difference in power usage to the point where it might cost an extra $50ish/year over a purpose-built NAS device.

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