Introduction and Testbed Setup

The emergence of the digital economy has brought to fore the importance of safeguarding electronic data. The 3-2-1 data backup strategy involves keeping three copies of all essential data, spread over at least two different devices with at least one of them being off-site or disaster-resistant in some way. It is almost impossible to keep copies of large frequently updated data sets current in an off-site data backup strategy. This is where companies like ioSafe come in with their lineup of fire- and waterproof storage devices. We have already reviewed the ioSafe SoloPRO (an external hard drive in a disaster-resistant housing) as well as the ioSafe N2 (a 2-bay Marvell-based NAS with similar disaster protection).

External hard drives are good enough for daily backups, but entirely unsuitable for large and frequently updated data. The latter scenario calls for a network attached storage unit which provides high availability over the local network. The SoloPRO's chassis and hard drive integration strategy made it impossible for end users to replace the hard disk while also retaining the disaster-resistance characteristics. A disaster-resistant RAID-1 NAS with hot-swap capability was needed and the ioSafe N2 / 214 was launched to address these issues. However, with growing data storage requirements amongst SMBs and enterprise users, ioSafe found a market need for disaster resistant NAS units that supported expansion capabilities in addition to large number of drive bays. The ioSafe 1513+ serves to fulfill those requirements.

ioSafe partnered with Synology for the N2 NAS (which was later rebranded as the ioSafe 214). The partnership continues for the ioSafe 1513+, a disaster-resistant version of the Synology 1513+. The main unit has five bays, but, up to two ioSafe N513X expansion chassis can be connected to make 15 bays available in total for the user. Obviously, the N513X chassis is also disaster-resistant. We got our initial look at the ioSafe 1513+ at CES earlier this year. As a recap, the specifications of the unit are provided in the table below.

ioSafe 1513+ Specifications
Processor Intel Atom D2701 (2C/4T @ 2.13 GHz)
RAM 2 GB DDR3 RAM
Drive Bays

5x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
(Review unit populated with 5x Toshiba MG03ACA200 2 TB enterprise drives)

Network Links 4x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 2x eSATA
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out None
Full Specifications Link ioSafe 1513+ Specifications
Price

$1600 (Diskless)
$3860 (as configured)

The ioSafe 1513+ review unit came in a 70 lb. package. Apart from the main unit (which has the PSU in-built), we had an Allen key and a magnetic holder for the same, a U.S power cord and a single 6 ft. network cable.

Interesting aspects to note are the hot-swappable fans, the rubber gasket around the waterproofing door for the drive chamber and the faceplate on the underside that allows for addition of a SO-DIMM module to augment the DRAM in the unit. The drive caddies also have holes for mounting 2.5" drives, a minor complaint that we had in the ioSafe N2 review. The fanless motherboard is mounted at the base of the unit in a separate compartment under the fire-/waterproof chamber for the drives.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The ioSafe 1513+ can take up to five drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We benchmarked the unit in RAID 5 with five Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives as the test disks. Even though our review unit came with five Toshiba MG03ACA200 2 TB enterprise drives, we opted to benchmark with the WD Re drives to keep the numbers consistent when comparing against NAS units that have been evaluated before. The four ports of the ioSafe 1513+ were link aggregated in 802.3ad LACP to create a 4 Gbps link. The jumbo frames setting, however, was left at the default 1500 bytes. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Chassis Design and Hardware Platform
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  • ganeshts - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    I hope we don't have readers chiming in about how they can build a better DIY NAS than the one presented here :) Reply
  • hodakaracer96 - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    I for one, was hoping for fire and water testing :) Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    Some good "tests" on youtube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm4J_1jFxik
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yszTblXpwgY
    Reply
  • ddriver - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    I wouldn't bet money on this product surviving an actual fire. Insulation seems too thin Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    I hope you are kidding :) ioSafe's products have been proven to work - they have many real world success stories. Quite sure they can't have big-name customers if they don't prove that they can really protect the drives as per the disaster specifications quoted. Just for reference, a picture of one of the 1513+ units subject to both fire and water damage is in our CES coverage: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7684/synology-dsm-50... Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    Well, looking at the youtube videos of fire test I am not really impressed. Surely, it will probably survive a mild and short fire with not much material to burn, but being in a serious blaze and buried in blowing embers it will not last long. A regular NAS unit put in a small concrete cellar with no flammable materials in it has better chances of surviving.

    And this probably has to do with how they test their products, which I can logically assume is safe controlled fires carefully estimated to not exceed the theoretical damage the unit can handle. But how many houses did they torch to test their products in real life disaster situations? My guess is zero :)
    Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    I mean, it will most likely survive a plastic trash can full of paper catching fire and burning out next to it, but will it survive an actual blaze disaster? I highly doubt it.

    In other words, I don't doubt the product will survive what they claim it can survive, I doubt that the disaster specifications they quote reflect real world fire disasters well enough. They will probably suffice for "fire accidents" but not really in "fire disasters".
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    Does this convince you?

    http://geardiary.com/2009/08/04/could-your-hard-dr...

    As for real-life situations, they are claiming protection for the following fire situation: 1550°F, 30 minutes per ASTM E-119

    I remember reading a post about some statistics regarding how fast fire services respond to hourhold fires, and ioSafe's protection circumstances fall within that. Anyways, this product is targeted at SMBs / SMEs who have buildings as per fire marshal codes. Any blaze in such a situation is probably going to be controlled well by building sprinklers.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    It is the 1550 F number that bothers me. That's below 850 C, and even wood and plastic burns at almost 2000 C using air as oxidizer. Most of the stuff that is flammable burns around 1950 C, so targeting the product at 850 C pretty much excludes direct fire damage. E.g. if you have a wooden cabin and if it burns to the ground, the data is very unlikely to recover.

    That is why I drew a line between "accident" and "disaster". This product will do in the case of fire accidents, but in the case of a fire disaster its specs are just not enough.

    So, it is a "fireproof" product for buildings with anti-fire sprinkler installations and with good accessibility for fire services. In short, it doesn't protect in the case of fire disasters, but in the case of fire accidents and the water used to put them out.
    Reply
  • robb.moore - Friday, August 15, 2014 - link

    Hi ddriver-
    The average cellulose building fire temps are between 800-1000F for about 10-15 minutes. We've been in many fires and have a record or zero data loss for fire disasters in the real world. Most of the building damage is actually caused by firefighter hoses - not the actual fire. The absolute temperature (1500, 1700, 2000...) is not as important as the duration actually. Think of a pot of water boiling on the stove - as long as there's water in the pot, the pot doesn't melt because the endothermic action of the boiling water (212F) keeps the pot from melting. The flame temp could be anywhere between 800 and 3000+? and the water would still boil at 212F (assuming sea level pressures). You could use an aluminum pot (which melts at 1100) and still be ok. Once the water runs dry, then you'll ruin the pot. It's actually the same with all fire safes (and ioSafe). There's water chemically bound to the insulation that works to cool the inner chamber and keeps it at survival temps. Our fire test standards is hotter and longer than typical building fires and the systems we sell typically can go double the standard just to be conservative.

    The fire protection technology is not new. We use the same proven techniques that have been around for 100 years. What unique about ioSafe is how we combine fire/water protection with active computers – managing the heat produced during normal operation while protecting against extreme heat possible during a disaster.

    As Ganesh has said, we test both internally and externally (with the press watching and recording!) in both standard and (ahem) very non-standard ways at times - we've NEVER failed a demo. One of these days, I'm sure a gremlin's gonna pop up and we'll get recorded by the press as failing a disaster demo (because a HDD refuses to boot) but that's the risk we take. Our stuff's legit.

    And btw, a cellar is a great place for tornados and fires but not so good for water main breaks or river floods – we’ve seen it all :)

    Robb Moore, CEO
    ioSafe Inc.
    Reply

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