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Company looking for cheap additional storage

Posted on 2004-10-06
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Last Modified: 2013-11-15
Hi All,

The situation is:
Small network with around 20 PCs and a Windows 2000 DC/file server.
There is limited storage (50GB) on the hard drives and the owner is not keen to invest in a new large scsi drive as the server is a bit long in the tooth.

He has suggested the following as an alternative:
Linksys Network Storage Link NSLU2 - Network storage server - this connects up to 2 USB hard drives to the network.
For the following reasons:
1. It allows large (300Gb??) hard drives to be put on to it, and if we need to do Mirrors of the data on them it is an easier task.
2. If/when we upgrade or replace server the 'data-boxes' can be kept on-line; reused etc. (I'm sure the server is not far away from an upgrade/replace)
3. If we need to do 'house-keeping' on the data [it would be simpler].
4. We tried the additional hard drive in the server option last time, and we are full again already.  USB drives seem easier to piggy-back and swap data when we reach even bigger capacity requirements.
5.  They have a nice blue light on the front ! ! !  surely reason enough in itself ! !

I would be interested in comments either pros or cons.

Cheers,
Gordon
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Question by:tangerine27
7 Comments
 
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 200 total points
ID: 12239988
USB2 is a lot slower than ATA specifications.  480 Mbits vs Burst ATA speeds of 1064 Mbits. (133 MB/s).  My recommendation would be to get a $50 ATA RAID card and Two ATA Hard Drives.  Total Cost (2x160GB + RAID Card) can be as little as $250.  Then you'd install the RAID card in the server and assuming you have the drive bays, you'd add 160GB MINIMUM.  

Further, USB2 - like 100 Mbit networking, never reaches promised speeds.  Very little does.  But sustained throughput is, from what I've heard from colleagues, better on Firewire, even though standard firewire is only 400 Mbits.

Lastly, I know everyone seems to love linksys - but most of the linksys network equipment I and several others I know purchased over the years has died or had problems.  I know they are owned by cisco, but a track record of success on one product line does not automatically extend to another.  I'd be wary of have a corporate network rely on linksys equipment for too long.  Netgear, 3COM, SMC, not necessarily FANTASTIC brands, but I've had little if any problem with ANY of their equipment in the 10 years I've been doing things.
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by:cooledit
cooledit earned 100 total points
ID: 12240063
hmm how about Data reliability I asume its not business critical no need to back up during night and so etc.

the solution with 2 USB Disks is not reliable at all.
How about purchasing a NAS box there are what they sound like a cheap storage solution. Dell Powervault
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huntersvcs earned 200 total points
ID: 12240065
I'd suggest a dedicated PC, no whistles and bells, with 4x 200GB drives - ATA-133 or SATA-150.  When you eventually swap out servers, nothing needs to be changed on the FILESERVER.  Imaging/mirroring is no problem.  You can switch 200 for 300 (or more) easier without touching the server.  It can run separate from the server and is independent.  The price would be extremely reasonable.  You don't need any additional DVD/CD drives; additional software; special network adjustments, etc.  And finally, you could write some scripts for auto-back to the other drives internally without interfering with other server functions.

I have a W2K Server (DC,DNS,DHCP,QOS), an NT FileServer with 3 HDDs, and if/when I eventually need more space, I'll probably add a second FileServer.

In the long run:  cheaper and easier to manage!  GB is fine, but TB is just around the corner!

Hope this helps.
Rick
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Expert Comment

by:johnny_road
ID: 12246304
Hi Gordon,

There have been some good suggestions above recommending alternatives to the NSLU2.  You may want to go that way.

But, to address your NSLU2 questions, I do own and use a NSLU2 in my home network.  Overall, I have no real issues with it for my uses (mainly backup) as a cheap NAS.  I have 2 250GB USB drives attached.  Max Size is 300GB each.  Be sure to get the latest firmware which fixed some time issues.

Let me throw out some cons specific to the NSLU2:
- You cannot hot swap a USB drive.  You need to turn off the unit before adding/removing drive.
- NSLU2 runs linux and formats USB drive to ext3.  So, unless you have the proper s/w on a Windows box, you cannot unplug the USB drive from the NSLU2 and plug it into a Windows box and read / write to the USB drive.  There are however, 2 s/w programs that I found that allow you to read/write to ext3 formatted drives on Windows.  Here is a link to one of these:
http://uranus.it.swin.edu.au/~jn/linux/explore2fs.htm
 - There is no RAID type setting for data redundancy.  However, you can set it up for poor man's RAID by setting it up to mirror disc 1 to disc 2.  You configure the days / times that you want the mirrorring to take place.
- If you have filenames with some non english / foreign characters, they will get renamed.  
- Max number of drives per NSLU2 is 2.
- If the NSLU2's power is cut off, it needs to be manually switched on.

Some more pros:
- It's cheap.
- Takes up very little space and is incredibly light.  
- Uses very little power compared to a computer.
- Practically no heat.
- No noise from NSLU2.
- It's VERY easy to configure.  You can configure via a browser.

Good Luck,
JR



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Author Comment

by:tangerine27
ID: 12246327
Thanks Johnny this is very useful - sorry that I'd already dished out the points...
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:gjohnson99
ID: 12311740
iSCSI using  Sata drives (they are hot swap able)

Is what want to use very low cost and fast
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Author Comment

by:tangerine27
ID: 12312146
That is what I recommended but a Linksys network thing is being ordered....
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