Posted by: Harold Ennulat | May 18, 2010

On Setting up a Network Attached Storage (NAS) Device

Buffalo Linkstation Pro XHL

Buffalo Linkstation Pro XHL

Here is a review I wrote on my experience with a Buffalo Linkstation Pro NAS device I am now using as our home file server.    It has been updated as of June 2, 2010.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A32RXEM7QDJRPJ/ref=cm_cr_pr_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview

So far the biggest surprise has been in how slow access to the network attached storage is.  It appears to be limited to the speed of the network when doing large file transfers.  On a 100 MB (mega bit) network the transfer speed maxes out at around 8 MB/sec (Mega-bytes per second).  However transferring small files can bring the net transfer speed down to 50 KB/sec due to the network packaging overhead which appears to be used for each file transferred.  The average speed to transfer all about 45 GB worth of files was around 1 MB/sec and took around 8.5 hours.  I had around 130 GB to transfer all together, so it took some days.  Restoring this device will be quite time intensive should it fail and need to be replaced.

My plan is to connect the NAS directly to a 1 GB router port to mitigate this and see if I can find a backup package that can package and transfer an entire group of files in one packet, and then disassemble them in the target drive.

For day to day operations performance over the network is fine and usually not even noticable.  Email using Outlook and Quicken are both exceptions as my mail files and quicken files are quite large, in the 1 GB range.

Update: June 2, 2010:  Updated the home network to a 1 GBit network.  Transfer speed seems to max out at around 11 – 12 MB/Sec on my network backups.  Buffalo claims a 66 MB/sec transfer rate is possible.  USB drive transfer rate is around 50 MB/sec on my Vista dual core Intel processor machine.

Using “Vice Versa Pro 2.5” for backups on 2 of my PC’s with larger hard drives.  For $60 (after a 30 day trial) it seems like a very good product for scheduled backups.

Update: June 21, 2010:  I modified Outlook (mail client) to use files local to a single machine.  An add in was found that backs up the mail files daily to the NAS whenever we exit Outlook.  This makes loading quicker at the expense of the mail files not being backed up immediately.  Not ideal as sometimes we leave Outlook running for quite some days before exiting.  Quicken now loads acceptably (30 seconds) from the NAS.

Update: July 16, 2010:  Modified my backup strategy so that the backups go to externally attached hard drives (connected via USB 2.0).  I found that making a system image was prohibitive with backups of all my data on the same disk as the Windows operating system.  Now my Windows system disk contains no or very little data of any kind.

I also now added an 8 port 1GB switch in my basement and connected everything to it.  Only one LAN port is used on my router now, and that is the connection to the new switch.  The advantage to this is that if the Router hiccups, my internal network runs along just fine.  (I had this happen once).  The switch I choose was an HP proCurve (1400 I believe) which I got for about $70.  It has a lifetime warrantee and had great reviews.

Update:  October 7, 2012:  Added CrashPlan to backup (the main backup directory created by ViceVersa) to the cloud as an effective off site storage technique.  Price is very reasonable at $5.00 per month for an unlimited amount of data.  All works well.  It would be nice to have a solution that could back up the NAS directly to the cloud but this is workable for now.

Have had no trouble with the Buffalo NAS for over 2 years now even though I’ve read a number of reviews of people who have had trouble.

Buffalo has come out with the LS-VL (as opposed to the LS-XHL) which is about 25% faster (according to “Small Net Builder“) all around then the unit described here.  From the Buffalo site the available drive size is up to 4TB and all for around $300 – $330.

Updated: October 7, 2012  |  Published May 18, 2010

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Responses

  1. I have since replaced the 2TB Buffalo NAS with an 8TB dual drive QNAP 251+ NAS. Also the 8 port 1 GB switch was replaced by a 24 port 1GB managed switch for around $125 as I recall. I now have remote access and increased transfer speeds. Also administration has been significantly simplified and the options expanded as the QNAP NAS has lots more options.


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