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Affordable Autonomous NAS
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Dex13
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Nov 29, 2016, 07:12 PM
 
Hello!

I've used a couple of Library Boxes in the past, but was wondering if there was something like it that could provide a bit more power and bandwidth.

Kinda just need a beefier NAS that allows user to connect to it wirelessly, create it's own wireless network, and provide 10 - 20 MB's of bandwidth to 10 - 25 users?

I've googl'd it, but I don't think I have the correct search terms, not entirely sure if this product exists.

Dex13
     
reader50
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Nov 29, 2016, 09:59 PM
 
Any reason not to use a regular NAS? It sounds like you could do what you want (a wireless-access-only private storage) by using a normal NAS attached to a wireless router. The router would have no upstream connection, so local access only.

Cost will depend a lot on how much storage capacity you need. If it's up to a few TB you can do it with a single-bay NAS (or dual-bay for RAID-1). If you need to make 100 TB available, I'm afraid things are going to get expensive.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 29, 2016, 11:34 PM
 
The most important ingredient in a commercial, off-the-shelf NAS is the OS, i. e. the vendor's way to put a UI on top of Linux. Anandtech has recently published the first part of a series of articles giving an overview of the market. My recommendation is to look either at Synology (my personal choice) or QNAP. These are the big players, and you can expect 5+ years of software updates. It is important to understand that you are not paying just for the hardware, but also the software. Hence, any comparisons with other players or do-it-yourself solutions is somewhat flawed.

Let me focus on Synology's line-up, but since there usually is a counterpart in QNAP's offerings, I'm sure there is an equivalent solution. Synology offers everything from consumer-grade 1-bay models to enterprise class rackmount solutions, but the software is the same. (Of course, certain features are only supported on certain models.) The numbering scheme is quite systematic: the first one or two numbers refer to the maximum number of bays supported by the NAS, the second give the model year. The DiskStation DS715, for instance, is their 2015 model of a 2-bay NAS to which you can attach a 5-bay expansion module. Higher-end models come with multiple networking ports (which can be used to either aggregate bandwidth or as a failover), and sport Intel CPUs. Cheaper models come with ARM CPUs that tend to be weaker, but usually they are plenty to saturate GBit ethernet.

The number of bays is determined by your storage needs. I would leave ample room for expansion, especially in a commercial setting. Not knowing your situation, I'd look into something like the DS1515+ which has 5 bays, but you can attach two 5-bay expansion module to it. It's also the smallest number of bays where a RAID5 makes sense where you combine 5 drives to a volume with the total capacity of 4 drives, but one drive can fail without you losing any data. With modern 6 GB NAS drives (and you should go for the more expensive NAS hard drives drives which are more robust), that gives you 24 GB of usable capacity. If you aren't quite there yet in terms of capacity, go for a DS716+ which is a 2-bay unit which supports a single 5-bay expansion unit. That would give you 6 GB of capacity in a RAID1 while still allowing one drive to fail.

Synology also has 1-bay units (e. g. the DS116 or the even cheaper DS115j) and cheaper 2-bay units which run the same software as its bigger brethren, but don't give you any protection against hard drive failure and no support for external expansions.

Personally, I have a DS214+, and it's been the best, most boring piece of hardware I have owned in a long time. Boring as in “it just works perfectly and does its job”. I run my own private Dropbox on it, use it for Time Machine backups and backups to the cloud via Backblaze's B2 service.

QNAP has similar features, but I don't know their line-up well enough. I also find them ugly which has no bearing on functionality, but still
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reader50
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Nov 29, 2016, 11:45 PM
 
Hmm, I missed your 10-20 MB/s to 10-25 users bit. Guess you can't do it with a single-bay NAS and probably not even with a 4-bay.

Based on Synology performance specs, you need at least a 5-bay NAS like the DS1515 or DS1515+, which works out to $600-$700 at Newegg. At 20 clients that gets you 375 MB/s and 404 MB/s respectively, or 18-20 MB/s per user. Enough to spare so you'd still have good speed even with 25 users. Presumably you could save a few bux with QNAP or a few more with a less-popular brand. These prices don't include the HDs.

Serving 25 clients wirelessly with a minimum speed of 10 MB/s works out to an AC2000 or higher wireless router. Since you won't get the rated speed outside of laboratory conditions, you probably need a minimum of AC3200 and should go higher. So the wireless router will be at least $200 and probably $300+.

So you're at $1000+ already, before buying any drives. And we still don't know how much HD space you need.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 30, 2016, 03:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Hmm, I missed your 10-20 MB/s to 10-25 users bit. Guess you can't do it with a single-bay NAS and probably not even with a 4-bay.
Throughput-wise, even the 2-bay models manage ~200 MB/s, but only under ideal circumstances. You need a switch that supports link aggregation, for instance, for otherwise you are limited to the throughput of a single 1 GBit port (~100 MB/s). The 5-bay models (and up) have 4 GBit ethernet ports, so that's where you'd get reader's numbers.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Based on Synology performance specs, you need at least a 5-bay NAS like the DS1515 or DS1515+, which works out to $600-$700 at Newegg. At 20 clients that gets you 375 MB/s and 404 MB/s respectively, or 18-20 MB/s per user. Enough to spare so you'd still have good speed even with 25 users. Presumably you could save a few bux with QNAP or a few more with a less-popular brand. These prices don't include the HDs.
Once you include the prices of the hard drives and the switch, the price difference will be rather small. And I'd probably stay away from anything but Synology or QNAP. HGST's 6 TB NAS drives cost $220 a piece, so that'd be another $1,100 just for the 5 drives. Reader, do you know whether the 5-bay QNAP NASes support extenders like the bigger Synologys? QNAP's 5-bay offerings seem to be ~$100 cheaper, but not all of them come with 4 ethernet ports.
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reader50
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Nov 30, 2016, 04:28 AM
 
Oreo, I'm afraid you know more about NAS options than I do. From browsing Newegg, they do offer QNAP extension boxes though. And midrange QNAP models (and higher) include eSATA port(s).

From the Synology performance page, single-bay models rate around 100 MB/s. You can select the bays count in their nav bar. Since the 1-bay graph is nearly flat regardless of how many users apply, it looks like a NAS bottleneck rather than the HD.

It sounds like Dex13 wants to see 10-20 MB/s each to 25 simultaneous users, which would require 250-500 MB/s aggregate. Since the Synology performance charts top out at 20 users, you have to allow for further falloff to reach 25. So I assumed the 20-user number had to be at least 300 MB/s. The only 4-bay at that level is a rackmount which costs more than the 5-bay desktop models.

However, I'm unclear on what Dex13 needs. His request could also be read as 10-20 MB/s total, to be divided between 10-25 users. Any modern single-bay could handle that. And even if it is 10-20 MB/s per user, the users probably won't all load something at the same time, allowing a much cheaper NAS to be used. I think we need some clarification on his scenario.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 30, 2016, 06:44 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Oreo, I'm afraid you know more about NAS options than I do. From browsing Newegg, they do offer QNAP extension boxes though. And midrange QNAP models (and higher) include eSATA port(s).
What you wrote was exactly right. I assumed QNAP also has extension boxes, but I don't really know their offering. Plus, their nomenclature is extremely confusing whereas Synology's is systematic (if you know how to decode it and ignore the suffixes).
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
However, I'm unclear on what Dex13 needs. His request could also be read as 10-20 MB/s total, to be divided between 10-25 users. Any modern single-bay could handle that. And even if it is 10-20 MB/s per user, the users probably won't all load something at the same time, allowing a much cheaper NAS to be used. I think we need some clarification on his scenario.
That's the big question mark. If it is to be used in a business setting, I'd definitely vote to get something that has redundancy against disk failure.
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Dex13  (op)
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Nov 30, 2016, 01:33 PM
 
Oreo, Reader,

Much Thanks!

I have a RS815+, thing is a beast!

I hadn't thought of that solution, NAS + Wireless Router (Would the lamest/easiest/most affordable solution be an airport express with a NAS or PHAT Hard Drive connected via USB), I guess I was looking for a combination, but I guess what I'm asking for isn't terribly popular. We essentially need a way to provide our media staff a way of uploading/downloading projects in the field. In terms of networking, we all give them iPads as hotspots (if there's reception), but wanted our NAS/Networking equipment to have the small footprint, since they lug a bunch of other garbage with them.

I guess I'm looking for a perfect solution to our minimalist video village. No one would be editing off of the NAS, just uploading/downloading RAW footage etc.

tangent:

It was difficult, but we finally ditched all of our Drobo's for Synology equipment, the hardware/software is infinitely better (opinion) and the price difference isn't terrible.
     
OreoCookie
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Nov 30, 2016, 07:51 PM
 
Ah, I had missed the part that you wanted a mobile solution. I tried the wireless hard drive route, I bought a Transporter (which was bought by Datarobotics, the maker of Drobo), but it was a disaster in terms of performance. Of course you could go the rugged hard drive plus router route, but typically routers aren't very good at file sharing. Synology has a router whose hardware specs are roughly on par with its entry-level 1-bay NAS boxes. You could use that and a rugged hard drive, but I am not sure whether it'll be able to give you the performance you want. The other option is to get a simple wireless router and a 1- or 2-bay enclosure. They are still quite portable (I took mine on two long-distance flights), can sync their files automatically with your NAS “at home” if you want, and don't flake out. In case you really travel a lot, you might want to eschew spinning platter hard drives for SSDs that are more robust because they have no moving parts.

Keep in mind that you are usually limited by your wifi's performance: right now under very good circumstances I get about 150-200 MBit/s (according to the menu bar widget), well below what my NAS can do.
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Dex13  (op)
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Dec 1, 2016, 05:08 PM
 
Oreo, Cookie

Of course Synology makes a router, I'll have to check it out, it looks beastly. Thanks for all of the suggestions, I'm going to give them all a try.
tangent - We currently use an edge router lite (local pride), its pretty beefy for our small office.

Yeah it sucks about the limitation of wifi performance, I'm an ethernet man myself, but all of these millennials (self depreciation) want wifi now.

Thanks for all of the help, I'll update the thread later with my trials.

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turtle777
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Dec 3, 2016, 01:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by Dex13 View Post
Of course Synology makes a router, I'll have to check it out, it looks beastly. Thanks for all of the suggestions, I'm going to give them all a try.
tangent - We currently use an edge router lite (local pride), its pretty beefy for our small office.
I have been using the Synology Router for 10 months now.
The specs are impressive, and software is solid.

I had high hopes.
However, performance wise (speed, reliability), I'm not impressed at all.

I'm in a 1,400 sqft two story townhouse. Router is on 1st floor.
Performance on 2nd floor is bad. The signal is there, but data flow is slow. Long ping times. Pulling up web pages sometimes time out.

I'm not ready to give up, since in theory, all of this can get better with future software updates.
But I am starting to consider options, like Eero.

-t
     
ghporter
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Dec 10, 2016, 11:03 AM
 
This discussion brings a question to mind: do the leading NAS products work well with iOS devices (and/or the other way around)? I've been wrestling with sharing content among desktop, laptop and tablet/phone devices for a while, and the only solutions I've found that work across these platforms are iCloud/Evernote/Dropbox/OneDrive type cloud-based sharing. I'm not 100% comfortable with using these to share everything I want to have shared access to... A NAS would be significantly preferable.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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