The SMB (Small to Medium Businesses) / SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) NAS market is a highly competitive one. We have been reviewing a number of ARM-based 2-bay / 4-bay NAS units over the last year or so. In addition, we have also looked at some x86-based high-end systems such as the LaCie 5Big Storage Server and the QNAP TS-659 Pro II.

On May 15th, LaCie launched an updated version of their 2big Network 2 2-bay product, the 2big NAS. The 2big NAS comes in diskless and 6TB versions, priced at $299.99 and $649.00 respectively. At this price point, the NAS competes with advanced 2-bay SMB solutions such as the Synology DS211+, and not the LG NAS N2A2 (which is geared primarily towards home users). In this review, we set out to find whether the features and performance match up to the price point.

The purpose of any NAS is to serve as a centralized repository for data while also having some sort of redundancy built in. The redundancy helps in data recovery, in case of media failure or any other unforeseen circumstances. In addition to the standard RAID levels, some companies also offer custom redundancy solutions. The OS on the NAS also varies across vendors.

High-end NAS systems for SMBs and enterprise run on Windows Storage Server. However, most of the other 2-bay and 4-bay variants run on customized OSes with a Linux kernel at its core. While Synology has Disk Station Manager (DSM) which runs even on the 8-bay models and QNAP has Turbo NAS, LaCie revamped their ARM-based OS last August with the release of LaCie NAS OS 2.

The LaCie 2-bay NAS supports RAID 0 (striping) as well as RAID 1 (mirroring). In this review, we are primarily concerned with RAID-1 performance. We will start off with the unboxing and setup impressions, followed by a system teardown. We are in the midst of revamping our NAS testbed, and the testbed setup for this review will give readers an indicator of where we eventually want to get with respect a standardized platform for evaluating NAS units. Following the testbed description, we have Windows and Linux benchmarks using Intel NASPT and IOMeter respectively. We will conclude the review with a discussion of the miscellaneous factors and provide some concluding remarks.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • zzing123 - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Apparently a lot of these SOHO NAS's begin to have problems when they fill up, due to both using the inner tracks of the HDD platters, as well as the CPU overhead from software RAID. Rather than benchmarking absolute performance at new, can you begin to see what performance is like with an 85% full drive after a tortuous series of production IO? The reason being is a lot of people are increasingly using these NAS's for iSCSI and this doesn't help matters.

    See here for more info: http://www.servethehome.com/cost-nas-boxes-perform...

    Furthermore, while technologies such as bcache (http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&am... and BTRFS are nearing kernel inclusion, or even using an OpenIndiana based embedded OS to provide ZFS (like EON), I see very little from the NAS manufacturers that they are even considering these advanced filesystems and SSD tiering, except for Drobo who are wildly overpriced and underperformant.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the note. We will keep this in mind for future NAS reviews.

    In fact, I tried to do something similar to expose QNAP's kernel problem [ http://forum.qnap.com/viewtopic.php?f=189&t=51... ], but left that effort hanging once QNAP owned up to the problem. Maybe it is time to work more on that aspect :)
    Reply
  • guste - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Ganesh, thanks for the great review. I was wondering if it's possible, next time can you pick colours for the graph that aren't so similar? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    How's that? Reply
  • guste - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Cheers, Jarred. Thanks kindly. Reply
  • ggathagan - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    It would be interesting to see if your list of desired features are present on the LaCie "Professional" products that use NAS OS 2.

    It may be that the focus for their non-"professional" devices is ease of use, as opposed to full features.

    I think the review blurb LaCie uses on their web page for the 2big summarizes their target:
    “...5/5 – this really is a well made, cool looking NAS that can do pretty much everything you need it to do. My only real problem with it is that I have to give it back!”

    Like Apple, LaCie has always focused as much effort on the aesthetics of their products as they have the functionality. Also like Apple, I would expect that mindset to extend to how much of the inner workings of the OS are exposed to the user.

    Math nitpick from the unpacking page:
    "On the rear side, we have four square slots behind which the fan's exhaust pipe sits"

    I see six.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Some of my clients are those sorts of people (ie, Lacie customers). And man, it's crazy.

    They've all suffered a huge identity crisis in the last few years because Apple so clearly doesn't give a shit about its professional users anymore, abandoning FCP and eventually the desktop. Reflexively they want to keep buying Macs because hey, that's what 'creative' people do (never mind that they best pros I've met don't give a shit what type of computer they use). But logically they are running out of reasons to.

    I predict mass suicides.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    I don't know if it's too pricey to make sense for your audience, but you all may want to check out Open-E's DSS V6 NAS software platform.

    It uses a heavily modified version of FreeBSD (I believe) and runs on a really wide variety of hardware, and provides nearly all of the failover, security and management features of those atomic powered high end enterprise NAS appliances for a fraction of the price (ie, thousands instead of tens of thousands).

    I've installed a bunch of these things for clients ranging from SOHO (with heavy storage needs, like video) to SMB all the way up to legit mid-tier enterprise work. They take a bit more knowledge to install than, say, Drobo, but it's the kind of stuff that anyone who works with gray-box appliances routinely will be well versed in.

    Coming from things like Windows Storage Server, Drobo, etc the performance is pretty amazing, you really feel like you're getting the most out of the hardware. With basic hardware (a modern low power Xeon mobo, LSI SAS RAID controller populated with 7200 rpm enterprise SATA drives) I routinely see wire speed on transfers from NAS to client machines over gig-e. In the small handful of installations I've done with 10 Gbe present, shit gets crazy.

    Most importantly, I've never seen a client lose data thanks to trouble with the software and support from the company is incredible, to the point where they will write unique small patches for specific clients, regardless of size. Between the two, it feels solid like a rock, in a way that many NAS and SAN systems simply don't.
    Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    I can't help but see the turret. If they make the blue light red, slap an Aperture Science on the side, and they'll get the geeks to swarm over it. Reply
  • sleepeeg3 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Probably the last product before they are swallowed by Seagate. Reply

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