Single Client Performance - CIFS and iSCSI on Windows

The single client CIFS performance of the LenovoEMC ix4-300d and WD EX4 were evaluated on the Windows platforms using Intel NASPT and our standard robocopy benchmark. This was run from one of the virtual machines in our NAS testbed. All data for the robocopy benchmark on the client side was put in a RAM disk (created using OSFMount) to ensure that the client's storage system shortcomings wouldn't affect the benchmark results. It must be noted that all the shares / iSCSI LUNs are created in a RAID-5 volume.

LenovoEMC ix4-300d / WD EX4 CIFS Performance - Windows

We created a 250 GB iSCSI target and mapped it on the Windows VM. The same benchmarks were run and the results are presented below.

LenovoEMC ix4-300d / WD EX4 iSCSI Performance - Windows

Encryption Support Evaluation

Consumers looking for encryption capabilities can opt to encrypt a iSCSI share with TrueCrypt or some in-built encryption mechanism in the client OS. However, if requirements dictate that the data must be shared across multiple users / computers, relying on encryption in the NAS is the best way to move forward. Most NAS vendors use the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption algorithm. One approach is to encrypt only a particular shared folder while the other approach is to encrypt the full volume. In our case, only the WD EX4 supports encryption, and only on a full-volume basis.

On the hardware side, encryption support can be in the form of specialized hardware blocks in the SoC (common in ARM / PowerPC based NAS units). In x86-based systems, accelerated encryption support is dependent on whether the AES-NI instruction is available on the host CPU (not considering units based on the Intel Berryville platform). The Kirkwood SoC used in the EX4 does have a security engine, so we the performance impact should not be brutal. We enabled encryption on a a CIFS share to repeat our Intel NASPT / robocopy benchmarks. The results are presented in the graph below (with the unencrypted folder numbers for comparison purposes).

Western Digital My Cloud EX4 Encryption Performance - Windows

The performance of the EX4 for normal volumes was barely acceptable. Unfortunately, enabling encryption only pulls down the numbers further, most times by more than 50%. We strongly urge users looking for good encryption support to look beyond the WD EX4 and LenovoEMC ix4-300d.

Setup Impressions and OS Features Single Client Performance - CIFS and NFS on Linux


View All Comments

  • Navvie - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    I am amazed that a torrent client is included in the Lenovo machine. I wonder how many customers will put that to honest, law abiding use?

    Although RAID6 has a big impact on capacity when dealing with four drives, I'd really like to see those numbers. I would be disappointed not to see those numbers at 5+ drives.
  • Beany2013 - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    I've found the torrent client pretty useful on my Syno DS214+ - if I find I need to download an ISO for a VM appliance or distro from work, I can dial into my NAS at home, and tell it to kick off the download while I'm out at work.

    Yes, you can use it for nefarious purposes, but that's down to the user - I could use a car to mow down some grannies at a bus stop or ram-raid a convenience store, but that doesn't mean we should ban cars.

    (my word, that as an atrocious analogy. I shall flagellate myself later as punishment)

    Also, nice to see that The Registers quick review a few weeks ago wasn't wrong about the performance of that WD unit, it's bloody pathetic.
  • ddriver - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Torrents are not intrinsically illegal. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Why would you use RAID6 with 4 disks? Why not just RAID 10? RAID 6 only makes sense to me once you go to 5 and more. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link


    A) It's provided as a feature check.
    B) Leaving it in reduces the number of changes vs a baseline firmware that is also used for larger models.
    C) If the enclosure supports a way to add external drives to an array. (doubtful)

    I'm guessing a combination of A and B.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    1 and 2 only answer the question of "why should they have it" not "why would you use it". :) Reply
  • PEJUman - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    R6 can tolerate 2 any disks failure.
    R10 can tolerate 1 disk failure, maybe 2 (if both disks from the same stripe failed, you're hosed). I tend to think R10 as a higher performing R1, not a dual disk failure redundancy.

    Nonetheless, I agree that the R6 usability on a 4 disks array is quite dubious.
  • Navvie - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    RAID6 would allow any two drives to fail without a loss of data. RAID10 also allows two drive failures, but only if those two drives don't mirror each other. Drives are more likely to fail while reconstructing a failed drive. In a RAID10 setup the failed drive is being rebuilt from data on just one drive, if that drive also fails? Bye bye data.

    RAID1, RAID10 offers no better reliability than RAID1.
    RAID6 has something like 8-10x the reliability of RAID1, and 100x of RAID5.

    Adding RAID6 numbers to reviews as this would allow devices with 4 bays and up to be tested consistently - assuming the firmware supported RAID6.
  • powerwiz - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Generally any NAS comes with a bit-torrent client. Lacies do I know for certain as I have a Lacie NAS. Works well to.

    Torrents if you do not know were created by University researchers to distribute large amounts of data fast. What you use it for is up to you. Take the internet..the biggest money maker is still porn. You can get a college degree via the internet but it seems worldwide its main use is porn. All up to the user.
  • vanel86 - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    The torrent client within lifelines tends to corrupts downloads if the torrent relies on DHT(if it relies on DHT only it won't even start). When i download files out of it (linuxes iso what the hell are you thinking :P) i need to run those files out of utorrent to check if they are fine or not(most cases require a 1% redownload each time) Reply

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