New NAS200 setup advice/suggestions please.

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Network Storage Devices' started by NssOne, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. NssOne

    NssOne Addicted to LI Member

    [Solved] New NAS200 setup advice/suggestions please.

    OK, so I'm new here and I just recently purchased my NAS200 for a real nice cheap price. Now, my aim to have a simple centralized file server for my videos and music and I come here to ask of the more experienced users what path I should follow.

    What I would really like to do is:
    have most efficient speed/disk setup.
    cross-platform file system support, FAT32 would not suffice though as I have >4GB files.
    if possible, a software parity/backup of certain files or files within a certain folder. I assume this would be achieved through some kind of script.

    I understand that would most likely involve the custom firmwares available and the speed of the system is still inhibited by the hardware. I would also like to put it out there that I am somewhat proficient at Linux as I been using various Linux desktops for years and I am not afraid to explore the software options.

    So, if anybody cares to, feel free to chime in. I welcome any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance.
  2. jac_goudsmit

    jac_goudsmit Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    Okay, I'll bite! ;-)

    You can get the highest performance by formatting the disk(s) in non-journaled mode. This will give you about 6MB/sec read speed. However, non-journaled file systems are more likely to break in case of things like power surges or outages. For most users, I would recommend journaled filesystem; it's about 30% slower but when crap happens, you're not stuck waiting for hours or days for the unit to check your disk for errors: journaled file systems usually don't take very long to recover.

    If you have two disks and you're considering one of the RAID modes, you may already know that I recommend against it. It will not give you any speed advantage to use RAID0 (the rest of the hardware will still restrict your speed), and a RAID1 will only protect you against failure of a hard disk, not against failure of the entire unit or (MUCH more common) human error. I recommend setting the configuration to Separate Disks; if you don't need the capacity of the second disk, you can use it to backup the first disk somehow, but of course that still won't protect you against a meltdown. It would be better to make backups to another device (e.g. a USB drive) or in the Cloud (I use JungleDisk but I hear good stories about Carbonite and Mozybackup too).

    I assume you're talking about connecting external media via USB, as the internal disks are shared via FTP and SMB and HTTP (read-only) which is already inherently platform-independent.

    Alternate firmwares like Jac4 and NAS-CC don't see the USB ports as strictly-for-FAT32 disks; they see them for what they are: USB ports. The only limit to their versatility is the software and scripts you install on the NAS to handle the hardware. Although it's not supported out-of-the-box on the Linksys firmware or any alternate firmware, it shouldn't be too hard to add printer support. I did some experimentation with the USB Redirector software by Incentives Pro which makes it possible to share the USB port over the network and make it look to the client computers as if the device you connect to (in this case) the NAS200 is connected to the client computer. The server part is free and open-source (and you'll have to compile a kernel module which I've done successfully), unfortunately the client costs a small amount of money.

    Anyway, under Jac4 (and I imagine with other firmwares too) it's possible to mount non-FAT32 devices on the USB ports via the command line.


    As far as I know, all alternate firmwares are available (and announced) in this forum so keep browsing!

    My Jac4 firmware is basically an enhanced Linksys firmware which keeps all standard functionality and adds features to it.

    NAS-CC and SAN200 (both by Alejandro_liu) were developed by starting from scratch; they provide less services out-of-the-box but that makes them less bloated and probably also more efficient than standard firmware or Jac4. It may also be significantly more difficult to revert to the standard firmware (or to any other firmware) if you install these: they don't provide the Linksys web GUI and you may need serial port access to Redboot to be able to flash a different firmware after you flash these (note, don't use the "flash" command in redboot, it will erase the boot loader and brick your NAS without warning).

    Then there is a third category which is relatively new: firmware that's stored on removable media that can be run by plugging it into one of the USB ports while Jac3 or higher is installed in the flash: since version 3, my firmware runs a pre-boot script before it runs init, which checks USB media for special files e.g. a script or a file system. It's possible to build your own root file system which may be pretty much anything (Gentoo, Debian, OpenWRT, you name it), and put it on a USB flash device or hard disk, and run it by plugging it in and booting the NAS. If you don't like it or it doesn't work, just shut the NAS down and unplug it. It should be possible to run NAS-CC and SAN200 this way, so you don't have to worry about not being able to go back...

  3. NssOne

    NssOne Addicted to LI Member

    Thank you for your reply, jac_goudsmit. I should have been a little bit clearer about what I was looking for. I will start by clearing this up quickly.

    Cross-platform file support: By this I meant I can make it easily accessible for read/write by both Windows and Linux-based PCs on my home network without too much hassle along with the security benefits of the file system.

    Also, when I was reading up on this NAS I thought I read that it would only format in FAT and FAT32 or something? Maybe I misread or it was just bad information. Hence the comment on requiring something that can hold >4GB files without problems. If this information is incorrect, please enlighten me. What file system does it use by default then? Are there other file system options I can format with?

    I know I need to read a little more but it's always better to know more precisely what kind of information to track down and read with some guidance.

    Also, some additional info, I am running 2x2TB Seagates, looking to use for maximum storage.

    Thank you again for you help, it is much appreciated.
  4. jac_goudsmit

    jac_goudsmit Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    The NAS200 shares its disks (and any other shares you set up) via FTP and SMB (Samba, also known as CIFS, also known as Windows Networking). This should be compatible with pretty much any Operating System that takes networking seriously.

    Mass storage devices that are connected via USB have to be either FAT, FAT32 or NTFS formatted (unless you use an alternate firmware and mount the USB drive manually from the command line). If your device is NTFS formatted, it will be treated as read-only (FAT/FAT32 can be read from as well as written to). The NTFS format doesn't have the 4GB file size limit but FAT/FAT32 does.

    The internal drives are partitioned and formatted by the Linux operating system that runs on the NAS200, and the 4GB file size limit is not an issue there. I myself have many larger files on my disks, such as videos.

    If you want to know: the NAS200 uses the ext2 and XFS file systems for the internal disks, depending on whether you select the non-journaled or journaled option during formatting. Note that under Windows you may see it report "NTFS" as file system type for a network drive; this is nonsense because it's not only impossible, but also unnecessary to determine the file system type of a network drive. In other words, Windows doesn't know (nor care) how the files are stored on a network drive (i.e. which sectors are used for which file); it only knows and cares about what their names are and what their content is. Direct access to the disk over the network at the sector level is impossible.

    Like I said: Separate Disks is probably your best choice.

    Also like I said: Make backups! 4 tearbytes (what I call decimal Terabytes) is a lot of data to lose.

    One more thing: Keep an eye on how hot your NAS gets! The standard internal fan is woefully inadequate for drives that run hot. My 500GB Seagate ran so hot in the NAS200 that it stopped working, so I had to open up the case, had my way with a Dremel and replaced the puny 30mm fan with a 50mm one. Google for "nas200 install fan" (without the quotes) for more info and for some pictures.

  5. NssOne

    NssOne Addicted to LI Member

    EDIT: My friend help answer a question I had at the beginning of this post.

    Anyway, last night I decided to go ahead and set up my NAS200. I decided to go right into uploading your jac4 FW and set it up my disk array as just JBOD/LVM using the Journaled option. I'm not concerned if I actually end up losing this data somehow, as it's mostly for media and it's not of that high of importance to me. Although it may end up being frustrating if something does happen, it is not the end of the world for me. At most, I think I might figure out a way to create a software parity for certain folders where I might be more inclined to keep that data safe and figure out a way to list-write all the directories and contents to a text file on another machine on the network.

    I tested out my setup last night by transferring 6GB of music to it. The only thing that was somewhat sad about this setup is that the transfer speed I encountered was slower than I expected, 2.5MB/s tops. I understand the hardware is lacking and the journaled option is slower, but that was still a little lower than expected. I'm guessing if I wanted anything faster I'd have to set it up as RAID0 instead? Well, I'll have to see if this will hold up once I have everything on the network situated.

    Thank you again for you responses Jac, they are much appreciated and I have more insight into my NAS and its setup. You have helped clear these things up for me.
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