Dear LazyWeb: we’re looking for a great big honkin’ storage server to sit on the home network and be a backup pool for the motley crew of computers around the house: Mac, Solaris, Ubuntu, & Windows. Simon Phipps has a Buffalo TeraStation and is very happy with it. On the other hand, there’s a wiki which suggests it’s kind of loud, and it’s going to be hard for us to get it behind closed doors. Might the Net have a suggestion?


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From: Mark (Oct 14 2007, at 22:07)

How much data do you have?

I'm desktop Mac oriented (no notebook), but the most idiotproof solution for me has been to just get a primary boot drive that holds _everything_ I have, and get more of those to do 100 percent bootable backup disks with a program like SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner. If there's a problem, chuck the old drive and boot from a fresh backup drive. No recovery at all. No data librarian duties. Nothing to think about. This works up to 3/4 of a terabyte with a desktop; I'm not sure if there are internal hard drives over that capacity available, but you can use an external as your primary boot drive.

The clone drives are as portable as a notebook if you're travelling to a site with a Mac avaialable.

With Time Machine I'll dedicate drives to that for a different sort of backup.

I have a big internal on my iMac and three clones, updating on a slightly staggered schedule in the middle of the night. The drives are portable Buffalos and I can store one offsite if I wish from time to time. In panic situations, a single backup can be pretty nerveracking, especially if you're trying to "recover" data rather than just booting from a bootable backup. Three is best.

One advantage of just using your boot drive as storage for everything is that media obsolescence is no problem. Over the years and decades you will naturally update to the latest storage as you buy new computers, and there's always a compatibility overlap between adjacent generations of storage.


From: Andre Arko (Oct 14 2007, at 23:13)

I've had great success with the NetGear (formerly Infrant) ReadyNAS NV. It is quiet enough I can only hear it in complete silence, and the NV+ model is supposed to have a fan that is significantly quieter. As far as OS support goes, it has excellent SMB, AFP, NFS, and rsync support out of the box. (Terrastations have to be hacked to allow NFS, AFAIK). It supports RAID 0, 1, and 5, but defaults to a custom setup they call X-RAID. It's similar to RAID 5, but allows you to hot-swap the drives for bigger ones, one at a time, and it then increases your total volume size without re-initializing the array or erasing any of your data. Just more space. Worth a look, in my opinion, even though NetGear has raised the price a bit after buying Infrant.


From: Manuzhai (Oct 14 2007, at 23:56)

I've seen a few people (Mark Pilgrim, I think, was one of them) recommend ReadyNAS boxes.


From: Fazal Majid (Oct 15 2007, at 00:25)

The DNS-323 is very compact, has a minimalist design (just slide the drives in, no cables, no carriers, no muss) and a relatively powerful Marvell ARM Linux microcontroller you can extend somewhat. It is ilimited to two drives, however.

What I use myself is a Sun Ultra 40. It has 8 SATA drives in those nice Sun SPUD brackets. It's also very quiet (mine is right next to my bedroom). Despite its monster 1000W power supply, with 7 drives, it only draws 160W or so. Since it is configured with at least a dual-Opteron CPU so you can put real workloads on it like PostgreSQL, MySQL and the like, or even run multiple zones. With ZFS in RAID-Z2 across 6 drives, disk I/O screams at a sustained 160MBps as measured by Bonnie++ while providing a much higher level of data integrity and redundancy than anything else out there short of a NetApp.


From: Anonymous (Oct 15 2007, at 00:25)

I am very happy with my Linksys NSLU2 ($80) which is connected via USB2 to a seagate freeagent[*] drive ($100 - $200). I installed Debian 4.0 "etch" GNU/Linux on it, which made it a million times more useful than it was with Linksys's toy linux it shipped with. I currently use it for NFS, DAAP, UPNP, SSH/SFTP, and whatever else I feel like. I only get about 3MB/sec writing to it over NFS, and less with SFTP, but I understand that I could make NFS a bit faster with some tweaks that I have not tried yet. It suits my needs well enough as is.

*: There is a note on the nslu2 wiki about a special step that Linux needs to have taken with this model of hdd. Its auto-sleeping is somehow nonstandard and confuses things. But after putting the command from the wiki in a startup script, it works great!


From: Tim (Oct 15 2007, at 00:32)

I recall Mark Pilgrim settled on a ReadNAS and my buddy Ben has one he loves.

You can hotswap in larger discs and when you've finally replaced all your, say, 400gb discs with, say, 600gb discs the array will resize to use the new capacity.

No idea about the sound.

It seems to have been the best choice last year, don't know how they've stayed current.


From: TimW (Oct 15 2007, at 00:38)

I'm quite happy with my Infrant NV+

Takes upto 4 disks, does afp, nfs and cifs; iTunes server, print server and a backup button. New firmware on the way so you can ssh into the Linux core too.

It does have a fan that you can definitely hear, but I wouldn't call it noisy. It does have a scheduler to stop and start, so it doesn't have to be on 24/7.

And it has a Dashboard monitoring widget!


From: Deron Meranda (Oct 15 2007, at 00:52)


I have a TeraStation from Buffalo and I don't find it very noisy at all, at least compared to a PC. Most of the noise it does make comes from the four hard drives, but the heavy solid case absorbs much of that. The one fan is large (a 90mm I think) and runs at a slow enough speed that you don't notice it. And of course you can put it nearly anywhere.

The TeraStation seems to be a really nice choice for a multi-OS household; although I don't have any Macs. I wrote up my own review should you or others find it useful <>. I haven't reviewed competing products though, so you'll still need to do your own LazyWeb research.


From: Janne (Oct 15 2007, at 01:09)

I never did any deep comparison shopping, but for what it's worth we got a LaCie Ethernet Big Disk (1Tb) as a general network backup and mass storage disk. It's pleasantly low volume, fairly inexpensive, and - most important - it supports Mac, Windows and Linux alike, with both Samba and FTP (and some Mac-specific protocol - we just use Samba there too) and has a fairly nice http-based remote admin system. It actually runs Linux internally - you can download the GPL stuff from the website.


From: Boris Mann (Oct 15 2007, at 01:55)

My friend Scott was just lamenting about this thing. Here's a part of his post:

"I’m seriously considering replacing the Infrant with an OpenSolaris box running ZFS over RAID-Z2 with 6 - 10 drives; that should live through 2-drive failures, right? Anyone feel the need to talk me out of it?"

Sounds like something you might enjoy fiddling with...


From: Sérgio Nunes (Oct 15 2007, at 02:37)

I've seen ReadyNAS suggested a couple of times on the Web -

You might also like to check an old post by Mark on this issue -


From: Todd Jefferson (Oct 15 2007, at 04:41)

I have an Infrant ReadyNas NV+ and I'm very happy with it. I've convinced 2 other friends to use it as well. I'm at about 500 G with 3 drives.

It is a bit noisy, ie. the fan runs at high RPM which they had to enable in the last 6 months to prevent some overheating issues ( it's in their forum ), newer hardware may have resolved this, but I haven't been following it.

Overall I've been happy, and the beta for the upcoming firmware seems to have sol'ns for my minor issues, as well as increasing the maximum capacity.

So I guess it depends exactly how big you mean by great big honkin'.


From: Philip Storry (Oct 15 2007, at 04:52)

Does it really need to be RAID 5?

The Terastations are multiple hard disks in one box, and that makes for vibration - which makes for noise.

I looked at the Terastation, but in the end went for a Linkstation instead. Similar machine, but with just one HD internally. It does, however, have USB ports. External USB HDs are cheap these days, so you just plug one in and set up rsync to copy files onto the external hard disk as backup, in case the internal disk fails.

(Note: If the built-in Linux setup lacks cron/rsync, LinkStations are easily flashable with Debian. I'd recommend doing that whether you get a Terastation or Linkstation.)

The advantages are that it's quieter, it allows for multiple stages of backup, your data is still accessible even if the device fails (because of the USB2 HD), and it can even be a little cheaper than the Terastation for lower amounts of storage (<600Gb).

Oh, and it's much easier to maintain and grow, as you're not mucking about with RAID disk arrays, so there's less overhead.

The main disadvantage is that it requires two power points - one for each devices. But that's what 4-way plug extension cords are for, right? ;-)


From: David Magda (Oct 15 2007, at 05:04)

Infrant's ReadyNAS NV+:

Up to four disks that can be RAIDed together: you can start with one disk and grow dynamically to more. Supports multiple file transfer protocols for synchronization or straight copying.

The current firmware (3.x) doesn't support 1 TB disks, but the next revision (4.x) is in public beta and does.


From: Jacob Kaplan-Moss (Oct 15 2007, at 05:09)

I've got an Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ (; I'm extremely happy with it. It supports AFS, SMB, NFS, and rsync, so I've found it very easy to integrate with the variety of machines scattered around my house, too.

I think it's among the more expensive options out there, but so far it's been well worth the price.


From: Simon Crosland (Oct 15 2007, at 05:25)

I have an Infrant box, a precursor of the current NV+ model which has been excellent over the couple of years that I have had it. Also their support department was superb on the one occasion that I did have a problem (if you grant them permission and access, they can remote access your array and fix it).

It is as quiet as a box of disks can be and I understand the NV+ is even better in this regard; it can also spin down disks when they are not being accessed. It serves CIFS, NFS, FTP, and HTTPS concurrently. It even runs various media servers internally, so I can stream music around the house without needing to keep another server running as well.

All in all I am very happy with it and would replace it with another if it ever broke or when I eventually run out of space.


From: John Minnihan (Oct 15 2007, at 05:47)

S3 deserves a look. Jeremy Z. had a similar need a while back & wrote about it. Google 'jeremy zawodny s3' - it is the first returned page.

My research & use of S3 exposes one flaw though: its is not directly mountable without using a third-party app like Jungledisk, or writing your own. S3 is essentially accessible like a giant FTP site. That means that files cannot easily be both produced & streamed to S3 as the direct target in the way a real mounted disk may be. This is the gap that Jungledisk bridges.

There are a handful of restrictions around running Jungledisk, and I've chosen not to use it myself. I'm writing my own. If the FTP operation is ok for you, be sure to look at the very nice 's3 tools', which provides a set of wrappers around sh-like utility such as cat, ls, get, put, rm, rmdir, and delete.

With the recent announcement of an SLA for S3 (and rumors of one coming for EC2), this is a pretty safe option for putting your data into the cloud. Costs are extremely easy to digest.


From: padawan (Oct 15 2007, at 05:53)

Can't get a price on one of those ?



From: John Cowan (Oct 15 2007, at 06:54)

A divergent answer:

I've been very happy with JungleDisk, which backs up data into Amazon's S3 storage service. The software is only $20 for a permanent license, and Amazon bills you directly for transfer and storage costs, which are dirt cheap, I mean really dirt cheap: US$0.15 per gigabyte per month, and similarly for each gigabyte transferred.

The client functions as a local WebDAV server, so you can just mount it into the local file system to access your backed up files or to back up things off schedule just by copying them.

Encryption is provided with either your S3 key or any other public key you like. There are versions for all except Solaris, and you could NFS-mount your Solaris drives onto a Linux system (for that matter, you could probably get the author to make you a Solaris version).

It's not Open Source, but there's an Open Source read-only version, so your data will still be available if JungleDisk goes under.


From: Hub (Oct 15 2007, at 07:05)

I'd go with a NSLU2 (Linksys) using .

This solution is cheap, extensible (you just add USB connect disks) and verstatile (support SMB, NFS, Netatalk, rsync, etc.)


From: Matthew (Oct 15 2007, at 07:17)

You should check out the Infrant (NETGEAR) ReadyNAS NV+. Mine is certainly more tollerable on the noise front when compared to my Dad's Buffalo TeraStation.


From: Ron Daniel (Oct 15 2007, at 07:23)

You might take a look at the HP MediaVaults (

. They are expandable, configurable, and quite flexible. There is also a strong community of support around them, centered on the architect of the products who has now retired from HP (

I've only had ours for a month, so its hard to tell about long-term usage, but so far so good. My biggest complaint so far? The blue power LED is so bright our dog doesn't sleep in the home office anymore!


From: Kevin H (Oct 15 2007, at 07:27)

When Mark Pilgrim asked the LazyWeb a year and a half ago ( ), the answer he decided he liked best was the Infrant ReadyNAS ( )


From: Mike Cohen (Oct 15 2007, at 07:53)

I'm using a Buffalo Terastation and I don't find it too loud. I've hacked it to support SSH, NFS (which I found doesn't work too well), and MT-DAAPD for iTunes library sharing. I found that setting up an rsync server on it (which I posted in my blog a few days ago) is the fastest way to use it for backups.


From: Pete Lacey (Oct 15 2007, at 08:04)

Infrant's (now NETGEAR's) products have served me well.

SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP, rsync, NFS, HTTP support. Up to 3TB of data. RAID 5. GPL friendly. See an old post of mine and one of Mark Pilgrim's.


From: Carl Forde (Oct 15 2007, at 09:50)

you might be interested in Drobo: I've not used it, but I really like the idea.

I use sshfs, , and backup to my DreamHost account. This solution is effectively free since I'm already paying for the service anyway.


From: Delano (Oct 15 2007, at 12:36)

Western Digital has two 2TB options which can be mirrored (there are also 1TB models) which are available at Costco (the two Costcos in Vancouver have different models).

World Book II (Gigabit ethernet with ssh access):

My Book Pro II (Firewire 800/400, USB 2.0):


From: David Magda (Oct 15 2007, at 13:29)

One more thing: are you actually going to keep it in the basement, or are you just using that as a figure of speech?

Vancouver gets a lot of rain, and I don't know what condition your house is in, but what are the chances of flooding occurring?


From: Jack Baty (Oct 15 2007, at 15:47)

I'll second the Drobo suggestion. Couldn't be simpler. I just added another 500GB drive to mine: slide the drive and the new space is immediately available. I attached mine to an Airport Extreme and it's available everywhere in the house.


From: Mike O'Connor (Oct 15 2007, at 16:32)

Also check out . Their SAN products are generally well-spoken-of, but a good one will cost you more than C$500 .


From: John (Oct 15 2007, at 19:42)

I currently use a Linksys NSLU2 with a 500g USB drive. I primarily use

it to back up my windows PC's so I don't use NFS and have it turned off.

I also use Debian Etch but the only additional functionality I use is to

turn other computers off and on via crontab.

The downsides are:


USB DRIVES FAIL (I've had one fail in just under a year).

The upsides are:


Uses about 9 watts

If I were going to change horses now, I'd either get a D-Link DNS-323

or a QNAP TS-209 Pro and put a couple of 1g SATA drives in them and run

them RAID-1.

My $.02


From: Derek K. Miller (Oct 15 2007, at 20:22)

My friend Steve used to have a dishwasher-sized HP hard disk that used so much power he had to set it to spin up only when someone wanted to access it, or it would significantly increase his monthly electrical bill. The platters were the size of car tires. It was so obscure that he had to build his own interface card and assembly-language software to hook it up to his PC

And it blew up about 20 years ago. So anything you get today will be better.


From: Don Jackson (Oct 15 2007, at 21:25)

Question for the folks who propose running (Open)Solaris & ZFS with a bunch of disk drives: Is there a multi-port SATA2 disk controller that is supported by Solaris that doesn't do RAID (ZFS doesn't need a RAID Hardware controller, right?). I'd love to find an 8-port SATA2 controller supported by Solaris.


From: Ryan Cousineau (Oct 16 2007, at 10:44)

The reason USB drives fail is because many of them never spin down when they are powered on.

That's bad! Dan Rutter covers this somewhere on his site...ah!



From: Jeff Huber (Oct 18 2007, at 04:52)

I'll third the Drobo suggestion.


From: Scott Laird (Oct 22 2007, at 11:04)

Don-- The Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 ( is well-supported in Solaris and has 8 SATA 2 ports for around $120. Unfortunately, it's a PCI-X card, not a PCI-E card. You can should be able to use it in a normal PCI slot as long as your motherboard doesn't have any tall chips right next to the slot. Or you could pick up a motherboard with one or more PCI-X slots; I just bought an open-box ASUS P5K WS from Newegg for $140.


From: Dave Orchard (Oct 22 2007, at 11:51)

I looked into Amazon S3 and wrote a review. It worked really well with my favourite backup program, super flexible file synchronizer. I didn't like the fact there was no generic ftp access to the files. Jungle disk doesn't let you pick your names for the buckets but worked fine.


From: Matt Reynolds (Oct 22 2007, at 21:50)

I can only recommend against the Buffalo Terastation. It does a mediocre job well enough to keep windows users happy, but unless you're OK with using very slow SMB, I'd avoid it.

I've managed to upgrade the firmware and install newer version of the software they include (yay embedded linux), but I'd rather not go through the hassle.


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