NAS Server Final Thoughts
My first and solemn duty is to remind everyone that relying on a collection of drives in any RAID configuration for data backup purposes is a huge error. RAID systems provide protection against loss of services, not loss of data. Several examples will illustrate the problem, I hope:
the drive controller goes bad and corrupts the data on all the drives in the array
the entire storage device is physically or electrically damaged by external forces
the entire storage device is lost, stolen, or destroyed
a single drive in a RAID 5 cluster dies and during the rebuild process, which puts higher stress on the remaining drives, a second drive fails
floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. (AKA El Niño, Derecho)
All these points lead to the inescapable conclusion that multiple drives in a common system, in a single location do not provide effective and reliable data backup. Throughout this review I’ve talked about high-availability systems, and the ASUSTOR AS-604T fits that description well, especially when employed in a RAID 5 or RAID 6 configuration. With a single drive failure, your data is still available and accessible. The NAS device stays online the entire time while the failed drive is replaced and the array is rebuilt. That’s what RAID systems are designed to do. The inherent redundancy is not meant to serve as a backup file set. Remember, we’re not talking about losing data here, we’re only talking about the ability to keep working uninterrupted, if one or two drives should fail.
If you look closely at the ATTO Disk Benchmark for the ASUSTOR AS-604T NAS Server, you see another benefit of such a system, even when straddled with obsolete GbE NICs. The full performance of the system is reached at the 32KB chunk size. That means that the system isn’t just good at transferring data in a linear, sequential manner, it’s good at handling smaller chunks of data too. Take a look at other system and see how well they handle smaller random chunks of data, compared to large sequential chunks, and you’ll see how valuable this type of performance is.
In contrast to some Mega-NAS products I’ve tested recently, the ASUSTOR AS-604T is a product that most readers of Benchmark Reviews would probably contemplate purchasing. The cost of HDDs is coming down, although not to where they were before the Thailand floods, and the total storage needs of a modern household with all the latest high tech goodies is increasing rapidly. Although you can start with one disk and expand/migrate to RAID volumes later, I would recommend beginning with at least two drives, to get some data redundancy right away. Especially if you plan on using your NAS as front line storage, if you can avoid having to restore your data from backups, it’s worth it.
The typical home-based network is going to stay on Gigabit Ethernet for awhile, while SMBs are going to start migrating to 10GbE this year. The cost to upgrade switches and routers to 10 GbE is coming down quickly, and anyone who is buying business class or enterprise servers is finally going to be able to improve the transactional throughput of their core systems without breaking the bank. If you’re making that kind of investment in IT infrastructure, this article isn’t for you. For the rest of us, this 4-bay GbE NAS is sitting in the sweet spot for cost and performance. Its performance is top notch, and the price is still reasonable.
So, what conclusions can we draw about this high performance, four-bay ASUSTOR AS-604T NAS server? Click NEXT PAGE to find out, and discuss…