Setup Impressions - Rescue Web Admin & SimplyRAID

The 5big NAS Pro comes in a package similar to the 5big Storage Server. In the box, we have the unit itself, a USB key, a plastic 'key' to lock/unlock the drive bays, a 150 W AC/DC adapter and a single 6ft. Cat 5E LAN cable (we would have liked two, given the dual GbE links in the NAS).

Tackling the Diskless Configuration Issue

Diskless NAS units often require some sort of setup program running on one of the clients to be able to get the NAS up and running with the proper configuration. For example, Netgear uses the RAIDar utility while Synology has the Synology Network Assistant. On the other hand, some NAS vendors make their unit obtain a DHCP address even when diskless (without waiting for any special setup procedure / timeouts). LaCie adopts an innovative strategy here. Instead of relying on the internal firmware to do this (which might be an issue if that is itself corrupted), LaCie provides a bootable USB key. The rescue disk can also be downloaded from the website and put on the user's own USB drive, if necessary. One needs to simply plug in the key to one of the USB 2.0 ports of the NAS and boot up the unit. After entering the MAC ID of the network interface, the unit can be configured as per the user requirements. Disks can be added and the firmware can be upgraded, amongst other things

LaCie's rescue USB key is an interesting way to tackle the problem of corrupted firmware or diskless configurations. I am sure other NAS vendors will also recognize the advantage to this type of approach. However, we will give LaCie credit for being the first NAS vendor (that we are aware of) to provide such a feature.

RAID Setup

Standard RAID setups are fine for scenarios where all the disks are of the same size. However, variable sized disks result in wasted capacity. To address this issue, NAS vendors have come up with their custom solution to maximize disk usage while also providing the required redundancy. Netgear has X-RAID 2 and Synology has the Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). These custom solutions shield the novice user from the intricacies of understanding the various RAID levels. Now, LaCie has also joined the bandwagon. Their solution is called SimplyRAID, and the features are very similar to that of Synology Hybrid RAID.

LaCie's review configuration of 2x 1TB and 3x 2TB drives would have been an ideal setup to show how SimplyRAID works. However, for today's review, we will just be using SimplyRAID with 5x 4TB disks with a 1-disk redundancy. In this case, there is no difference between RAID-5 and SimplyRAID. We will go into detailed evaluation of SimplyRAID in the second part of our review. The short message is that it is good for LaCie to have a novice-friendly RAID solution similar to its competitors.

NAS OS 3 in the 5big NAS Pro

The UI of the NAS OS 3 hasn't really changed since the 2big NAS review. Certain additional options are available thanks to the 5-bay and dual GbE link nature of the offering. The available file serving protocols include SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, SFTP and iSCSI. In today's review, we will be only looking at SMB (CIFS) and iSCSI. NFS evaluation will follow in the second part of the review. An interesting aspect is that each of these protocols can be set to be active on one or both of the network interfaces. However, we set up the network interfaces for link aggregation in our benchmarking. The ability to allow protocols to operate on certain interfaces only provides the network administrator with more control over performance in the bigger scheme of things. A limitation of the FCS firmware will be that only one iSCSI target is available right now. For a mid-range SMB NAS, it is essential that multiple iSCSI targets be supported (particularly since LaCie claims the 5big NAS Pro is suitable for up to 50 users). Fortunately, we were assured that multiple iSCSI targets are definitely in the pipeline. Multiple application services such as Wuala (more on this in the next section), TimeMachine, DLNA server, iTunes, printer server, rsync backup and Download Machine (BitTorrent / HTTP) are available. Access protocols can be enabled on a per-share basis.

Link aggregation can be set up in either load balancing or fault tolerance mode. We used the load balancing mode in our review. Unlike the Thecus N4800, it is possible for the teamed interface to obtain a DHCP address. In addition to Wuala cloud access, remote access over the Internet can also be enabled. Appropriate ports need to be forwarded in the router (the OS does try to set up port forwarding automatically on supported routers in simple configurations). Power management features (including sleep timer for the HDDs and power on/off scheduling) are also available.

On the whole, the UI and NAS OS 3 are functional right away. However, some aspects such as the HDD SMART information reporting and other such details are unavailable in the current beta firmware. We will see whether they are addressed in the FCS firmware in the second part of the review.

Introduction and Testbed Setup LaCie's Hybrid Cloud - Wuala and a LaCie NAS in One Interface
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  • julieno - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - link

    Indeed Wuala can be used to:
    - back up certain shares from your NAS in the cloud to secure them offsite. Don't forget that to backup the NAS' entire content, you can buy a second one and use it as full backup target offsite
    - sync folders between employees that are highly mobile / often remote.
    The plus being that Wuala does not scan, share or know a thing about your data or password.
  • wirelessrouters - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - link

    Its only for small business. Too much high price so out of reach for general user.
  • philipma1957 - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    My point is the device can have 10tb of info with ease even more. Wuala offered 1tb for 1100 a year. For the single user. 1tb out of 10tb would be selective. For a single user it would be expensive. Basically cost prohibitive unless the info was truly need for making money. Ie a small business The business plan had only one offering 100gb and 5 users. It was 429 a year. They did say they had other plans to call them.

    If I load this device with 4tb drives run as raid5 with a good ups setup. I can store 16tb of info. 100gb out of 16tb is not much. 1tb is more reasonable. So if the un named business plan is 2k for 2tb and 10 users as a business owner it may be okay. But I was not able to find out what a large business plan costs. Hence my question "so how much is wuala?" Is a 5 to 10 user 2tb plan cost prohibitive?

    Don't know. I do know that a 5 user 100gb plan is 429 and that is okay. but 100gb of info out of 16tb is not much.

    I would think more info on a large size plan would be a factor for a user. As a small business user I want to know the yearly cost for gear up front. As i see it 550 for the unit 5x 4tb hdds at 425 is 2125.

    Total 2675. Setup as raid5 running an eaton 5125 ups as a back up . A 5125 runs 400 extra battery pack is 300 2 battery packs 600. so 1k for a good ups setup. I am at 3675. Plus the computer Lets say 2500 for a good but not great server.

    So 6k Gives me the gear to run the business. Not too expensive for a money making business. If I need 2tb or 3tb out of the possible 16tb to be on the cloud will it be too costly.

    I WAS not able to determine cost for more then 1tb as a single user or 100gb as a multiple user. So if I was going to spend for this I would have like to know my cloud cost for 2tb 3tb of cloud.
  • Death666Angel - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    You can reply to certain comments by hitting "reply" under the user name/user logo. And you haven't added anything to your original post which ganesh replied to and you still seem to be confused as to the purpose of the Wuala service it seems to me.
  • bodacious - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    My late 2010 LaCie 1 TB Hitachi drive worked a treat until just before X-mas 2012, when it tipped over onto my desk and wrecked the hard drive. Built like a tank, fragile as glass. I won't buy another LaCie product.
  • Subyman - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - link

    LaCie makes HDDs with bumpers for clumsy people too.
  • tygrus - Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - link

    Any pictures of any physical damage ?
    Have you tried the internal drive with another external case/dock or PC ?
    Was there damge to just the HD or just the LaCie electronics or both ?
    If just the HD and no backups, then did you ask a data recovery company to access recoverability ?
  • Subyman - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    Wuala has me interested in this device. Can I assign certain folders within the NAS to be synced with Wuala or does this have to be done through a workstation? It would be great to have a mission critical share automatically backed up to Wuala through the NAS without any further bother.
  • julieno - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - link

    Hello, you can do that through the workstation. Though we're working on the headless system.
  • Crazymayhem - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - link

    Hi, anybody know what if the internal motherboard in the 5Big NAS / Office is a mini-ITX format? The 4Big Rack Office and the older ethernet disk rackmount versions used/use a IT format motherboard.

    Unfortunately there are no halfway stylish HTPC-esque looking 1U 19" cases out there for 4 3.5" drives with a max depth of about 19"......

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