Do you have a NAS at home?

A bunch of us were sitting around arguing about why people are buying these inexpensive NAS (Network Attached Storage) boxes. Then we started arguing about who was buying them. I’ve poured over all the market research I can find and neither of these two questions are answered:

  1. Who is buying them (home users, tech enthusiasts, small business owners, corporate workgroup folk, etc…)?
  2. Why are they buying them (more storage, backup, sharing, …)?

So I figure I’ll do a bit of my own poor-man’s research using the amazing (ha!) power of the blog.

Tell me about you, why you have a NAS (at home, at biz, etc…), what kind of NAS is it, how much it costs, and what you use it for. Do you like it? Was it too expensive, is it too slow, etc…?

Me, I personally have a bunch of NAS devices. I have them because I want to understand how they work and what they enable. I don’t really need these NAS boxes because I use a Windows 2003 powered server as my primary storage (in other words, this box acts as a NAS).

I have a Linksys EFG-120 that I use as a backup target (see my mini-review). It’s painfully slow (particularly on writes) and was pretty expensive.

I also have a Linksys NSLU2 which is a novel idea but a total pain to use because you end up with 3 discrete devices (the NSLU2 and 2 USB drives), 3 power cables with bricks, 2 USB cables, and a network cable. I don’t use it.

I recently purchased a Buffalo TeraStation. This monster promises 1TB of RAID 5 capable storage in a single box for less than $1000. It has 4 internal 250GB IDE drives. Out of the box it has 1TB of usable space in a spanned (RAID 0) configuration. This is just stupid. Stupid. Stupid. If any of the 4 drives fail you will lose EVERYTHING on all 4 drives. Dumb. If you configure it to use RAID 5 for reliability you get about 650GB of usable space. That’s great. However, I found the usability (particularly around dealing with permissions) horrific and read/write performance was abysmal (~11MB/sec read and 5MB/sec write no matter how the RAID was configured) even on a gigabit Ethernet network. Since performance is so bad I’m not quite sure how I’m going to use it. I’ll probably replace the Linksys EFG120 in it’s backup target role.

For reference my 900MHz PIII Windows 2003 server using software RAID 1 gets 30+MB/sec read/write performance.

Anyway, let me know what you think about all these NAS products…


  1. Mark says:

    I went the Windows 2003 Server route. Added 3 120GB drives in Raid 5 Configuration. When I did the math, it just made more sense, and I can add more drives cheap.

    I use it to store music and family pictures.

  2. Steve says:

    Yeah I followed Mark’s path after toying with the idea of Mirra, Linksys, IOMega etc.

    For the capacity that I want (around 1Tb), its much cheaper and more reusuable e.g. as a proxy and print server to go the PC route. Especially since a HDs are <$100 for 100Gb+ per spindle.

  3. We use a Win2K server with an Adaptec SCSI RAID controller in a RAID 0+1 configuration with a hot drive for backup. I’ve lost a drive, but no data, and its fast. We also have a Tandberg DLT tape for backup, with a scheduled incremental / full backup and offsite rotation of tapes.

  4. http:// says:

    I too ended up setting up a Win2k3 box w/ 4x250GB HD’s for cost and expandability. It’s great.

  5. asher says:

    You all seem to keep forgetting something…

    For us, non-MSFT employees (which are still the vast majority of computer users), Windows Server 2003 cost 1000$ (or 400$ for the web edition) a pop… that’s SW only, with

    You ***can’t*** say that those hardware solutions are not cost effective if you don’t consider the cost of licensing Windows (not that there is anything wrong with paying for Windows…)

  6. JackMDS says:

    File BackUp, Music Server, FTP server on the Internet.

    Wrote this:[/L]


  7. http:// says:

    I don’t have one but I’d really like a small, quiet and simple device for backup and sharing of files at home. Using a full-scale computer isn’t small or quiet.

  8. http:// says:

    I don’t have one, but was considering one. I used to be a server admin, so using Win2K (or 2K3, etc) wouldn’t be an issue, but as was pointed out, purchasing Win2K3 is as expensive as a RAID 5 card + 5 250GB drives (1TB usable RAID 5 storage). But I can’t find any good information on a robust stand-alone NAS that will do RAID.

Debate this topic with me:

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