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Jason P.

Jason P.

Joined on 07/09/04

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 22
Most Favorable Review

Best-of-Breed... at a Price

Synology DS1512+ Diskless System High Performance NAS Server Scales up to 15 Drives for SMB Users
Synology DS1512+ Diskless System High Performance NAS Server Scales up to 15 Drives for SMB Users

Pros: Insane speeds, outstanding features, incredible management UI, tons of expandability, great design, SHR as an hot-expandable alternative to RAID protection... and did I mention the performance?

Cons: Cost: At >$100/bay, this will eat a hole in your wallet even before you stock it with drives.

Overall Review: I have NAS devices from Seagate, Buffalo, Iomega/Lenovo, and Drobo. This Synology outperforms all of them by nearly a factor of 10 on the same network on the same files under the same traffic and environmental conditions. For years, I was tempted by Synology but resisted because of the cost... now I can truly recognize that you really do get what you pay for. Take the plunge and buy it... you won't be sorry. If your data needs are huge, or will/might be huge, this might actually be one of the cheaper approaches. Consider that, fully maxed out, the 1512 costs around $80 per SHR-protected TB... that's not bad at all compared to the 3-4 separate NAS devices you'd have to buy on their own.

Most Critical Review

KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GETTING INTO... but great

Seagate STAR401 Diskless System BlackArmor NAS 400 Network Storage Server for SMB User
Seagate STAR401 Diskless System BlackArmor NAS 400 Network Storage Server for SMB User

Pros: Solid, beautiful design. Firm chassis and probably the best-designed disk sleds I've ever used. Dual GbE ports. Quiet. Front LCD. Probably the best remote-management software I've ever used for any NAS. Outstanding feature set and flexibility. Cheapest way of getting up to 12 TB of protected storage.

Cons: If you do not do *exactly* the right thing, and use exactly the right disks, this will be a solid and well-designed doorstop. Horrid documentation. Terrifying error messages if you don't follow precise undocumented steps. Spotty compatibility with officially supported drives. See "other thoughts" for a step-by-step of how to actually use this which would have been useful for Seagate to have included (they didn't).

Overall Review: Tech-savvy users who put in the prep time and investigation beforehand will find a well-built, reasonably-priced, and overall excellent little NAS box. However, there are so many ways to flub things up, it's important to know what you're getting into. I am extremely tech-savvy and have a wealth of experience with storage/NAS/SAN hardware, and I thought I could use that knowhow to work around some issues I had seen others report. I was wrong. Learn from my fail! 0) Make sure you are using compatible disks (check Seagate's website). If you plan on using with disks that aren't listed, don't buy this NAS. Simple as that. The device simply will not work with incompatible disks. Also, and this is a HUGE deal, the ST31500341AS 1.5TB disks that are listed on the Seagate site as compatible ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT COMPATIBLE. 1) PREPARE your disks BEFORE YOU EVEN PLUG THE NAS IN. Any disks used with the NAS need to be completely blank. As in, delete all partitions and leave them deleted. Don't try to reformat with NTFS etc. If you're filling it with freshly-bought disks no prep is needed. Good news is, if you do need to prep, it's pretty easy and quick: A cheapo $30 USB-to-SATA docking doohickey pays off here. I prepped all four disks in under five minutes total. 2) Put a SINGLE disk in the first sled and plug the NAS in. It'll initialize the disk and install the web monitoring software on it. This can take 1-5 hours just on its own. While you wait, install the BlackArmor Discovery software on a computer on the LAN and fire it up. Once the init is done, the NAS will show up on the Discovery dashboard. 2) Download the latest firmware and manually update the NAS. This will involve a reboot. If you get to this point, you should be golden from here on out; the myriad issues I had all prevented me from getting here. 3) To make any changes to the disks, first power the NAS down using the Discovery software and manager. 4) Install the remaining disks as you like. 5) Power up the NAS. Delete the default volume and create a new one (e.g., RAID5 or whatever). 6) Once you can get into the Discovery manager for the NAS, dealing with it is straightforward, powerful, and immensely cool. Best of luck!

No-Brainer if You Have A Compatible Synology Device

Synology 5bay Expansion Unit DX513 (Diskless)
Synology 5bay Expansion Unit DX513 (Diskless)

Pros: Convenience, performance, features, compatibility.

Cons: Not the cheapest NAS in the world, but you get what you pay for. Also, documentation is erroneous (see "Other Thoughts").

Overall Review: If you have a compatible device that's full, then this is a no-brainer. Yes, it may be expensive if you consider it to be just another set of slots and a power cord, but that's selling the architecture short. Synology is tops for SMB NAS--features, performance, and usability. Price, not so much, but if you're looking to save money, you're not looking at Synology devices anyway. A few things that contradict the PDF directions from my experience (and verified by Synology support): 1) The documentation says that you should insert the eSATA plug with the "eSATA" text facing up. At least in my experience, the cable simply didn't go that way; I had to insert it with the "Synology" logo facing up on both the master device and the DX513. Worked just fine. 2) If you boot up the master device with ZERO disks in the DX513, the 513 will briefly power on, then shut itself down, perhaps to save power, I'm not sure. The DX513 will NOT show up in "External Devices" in DSM on the master device. This is intentional, near as I can tell: just put at least one disk in the DX513 and power it on, and it'll stay powered on and the device and the disk(s) will show up in DSM on the master device just fine. Also, kudos to Synology support for getting back to me so quickly. Synology is the best, and you get what you pay for. $500 for five bays of top-performing, fully-featured NAS storage is pretty reasonable no matter how you slice it.

12/10/2013

Solid but not perfect

Seagate Desktop HDD ST3000DM001 3TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
Seagate Desktop HDD ST3000DM001 3TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: Excellent price:capacity ratio; decent performance; 100% compatibility with Seagate NAS devices.

Cons: Some reliability concerns; not terribly fast.

Overall Review: I have 16 of these, mostly in NAS boxes with some in servers. 2 of these have had occasional reliability issues, but nothing that has resulted in significant data loss. It's also not 100% clear as to whether the issues were disk or NAS related so I'm hesitant to blame the disks... but it's notable that the 4TB and 4TB NAS disks I've been using in other NAS boxes have had zero issues. If you need cheap 3TB disks, either to use in a desktop/server or to fill a NAS box for which you don't have a terribly pressing need for speed or performance, this is your disk, period. If your needs vary from that description, then you may want to consider other options.

Solid, High-Performance, Great Price

Lenovo ThinkServer TS130 Tower Server System Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz 2C/4T 4GB No Hard Drive 1105B2U
Lenovo ThinkServer TS130 Tower Server System Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz 2C/4T 4GB No Hard Drive 1105B2U

Pros: Great design, easy to work with, boots incredibly quickly, whisper-quiet, cool, great price/performance balance, Lenovo quality, all drivers installed automatically for WS2013 between install and Windows Update patching.

Cons: Not terribly expandable: only one PCIe x1 slot, and that is rendered inoperable if you put anything of substance in the x16 slot (e.g., GPU). Two 32-bit PCI slots... really? In 2013? Old-school PCI? Boggles the mind. Also, interior space is a bit Spartan; as other reviewers have noted, to max this thing's internal bays out, you'll need molex splitters and SATA power adapter dongles because there's only cabling enough for like 1-2 disks.

Overall Review: If you don't mind spending $20 more in dongles, and either find a very slim GPU or don't use one, and would want only one expansion card max, then it's hard to beat the price/performance on this server.

Solid Box at a Great Price

Mediasonic HFR2-SU3S2 PRORAID Box 4 Bay Raid 3.5" SATA Hard Drive Enclosure with USB 3.0 & eSATA
Mediasonic HFR2-SU3S2 PRORAID Box 4 Bay Raid 3.5" SATA Hard Drive Enclosure with USB 3.0 & eSATA

Pros: Adjustable fan speeds, including an "auto" mode. Quiet at lowest fan speed. USB3 and eSATA compatability. Multiple RAID formats supported. Neato LEDs.

Cons: Bizarre design on the disk sleds/handles and the front disk retention bracket, but it's functional once you get used to it. Spotty and poorly-grammared documentation but it's pretty clear if you know what you're doing. RAID builds take for-freakin'-EVER; the documentation estimates 1 hour per 200 GB; this means about 30 hours for an array of 1.5 TB disks and twice that for 3TB disks. My biggest (and only *real*) complaint is there's no SMART monitoring at the disk level. There is a single "Error" indicator on the front of the box and you're on your own to determine what the problem is and with which of the four disks. That means when I tried to init a RAID5 array, I got an error indicator and I couldn't proceed. I was left to my own devices to try and swap out individual disks and rebuild four times as to which of the disks the box had a problem with. Minus one egg for that.

Overall Review: You get what you pay for, but sometimes the cheapo option gives you a little more than you pay for. From my experience, this is a solid little storage box. Although it could use a few more features, it's a bargain box so you shouldn't be surprised. This thing isn't a Drobo, but it's also like 1/4 to 1/2 as much as the cheapest Drobo. As another reviewer pointed out, the top disk won't go in if you screw in the disk handles as the instructions indicate. However, the handles are completely optional in terms of the thing working: just slide the top disk in as-is and install handles on the lower three.