What storage device would you recommend for dedicated File Storage?

By arlington750 ·
NAS? SAN? My company is looking to consolidate the files stored across two or three servers to a single device. We are looking for 2-4 TB of usable storage initially with room to expand. It's a medium-sized business with 30-40 users on-site, ten or so computer users at a DC across town, and another perhaps 15-25 remote users across North America. I am looking to use this solely as a file server. From what I understand, SAN's are scalable and fast but relatively expensive, especially for smaller organizations. I have been looking at some NAS options and those seems more within reach. So the question is, can someone give me an example of a device that would allow me to meet the needs listed and allow for some scalability for the future? And what are some important features that I should check for?

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by NexS In reply to What storage device would ...

You've mentioned NAS and SAN (coincidental Anadrome?) and from the sounds of it, the need for having a SAN would be far outweighed by the cost. They are expensive and used broadly for virtualation.
A NAS may well suit your needs as it is a networkable hard drive, but you may want to either buy a second, or invest in alternative backup means in case of failure.

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There are many different NAS Devices

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to What storage device would ...

Ranging from a simple dual drive unit to multiple drives. The simple ones like this

are a base unit and they range up to something like this with lots of models in between

As for a suitable model to meet your needs you are better off looking at resellers in your area to see what they carry.


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More questions.

by arlington750 In reply to What storage device would ...

I guess the reason I posted is I don't have a ton of experience in what equipment here is the right "size" for our operation. I see a lot of devices that seem like they would be a decent fit (to my untrained eye, at least) and then there will be reviews from people using them as home storage between like 4 computers that said the transfer rates were terrible. If a NAS device cannot keep up with 4 home users, I obviously can't trust it with my entire business' file library. Can anyone offer advice specifically on what models and/or features would be important in the environment I described initially? I would think a 4 bay device with four 1 TB drives would be a good starting point, for example, but what sort of processing power or memory is needed? And NAS devices connect the drives using either SATA or iSCSI, right? Is iSCSI going to be critical at the scale I would be operating at? These are just examples, so if there are other important factors to consider, please speak up. Thanks in advance for your assistance!

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Hard to recommend ...

by Mike Barron In reply to What storage device would ...

any one system, but this is one of the appliances we are currently looking at.

I would definitely opt for iSCSI as you will see better performance. There are some things to consider when using iSCSI like jumbo frames, TCP offloading and VLANs.

As far as scalability, there are some devices that come with 12 bays (6 preloaded) so you can add more drives. When you need to scale NAS further it's as easy as purchasing another appliance. It's not like scaling a SAN where you're considering things like adding additional disk shelves in an FC-AL, interconnects, multipathing ... blah blah blah.

Most devices support NFS, CIFS/SMB and most popular raid levels so you shouldn't have any issues there. Other things to consider would be: transfer rates, memory and redundancy.

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Solutions for SMB

by TechGirl31 In reply to What storage device would ...

We have been using Business Black Box. It was the only one we could use for our smaller customers and our medium sized businesses. Fits the specs you're looking for. You should check them out. We joined their partner program last year and we've changed all of our clients to them over time.

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I have used Drobo units and they do the job

by markp24 In reply to What storage device would ...

Hi, as mentioned in the prior posts, there are alot of makes and models, one you may want to view is "drobo"
just to give you more selections.

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RE: What storage device would you recommend for dedicated File Storage?

by sturgeon In reply to What storage device would ...

What you have written is basically the following specification for your storage solution:
- Need consolidated network storage
- Needs to be scalable.
- Needs to be accessed from the local area and wide area networks.
- Needs to be affordable.
- Needs to be fault tolerant (taken from tone not content).
With this in mind my first question would be, have you considered "cloud" storage? It meets all the criteria, especially scalability and accessibility. A good Cloud service is in a commercial datacenter with stable power and regular backups. Typically a commercial datacenter will also have redundant Internet connections from multiple providers to ensure accessability.
If your organization isn't down with trusting their data to offsite storage, I would opt for some kind NAS storage server. This is essentially a lightweight fileserver with a RAID card, multiple hard drives and multiple Ethernet cards. This meets all the criteria at the most basic level.
Why not a dedicated NAS? Well in the correct configuration it meets the basic criteria but has a number of drawbacks for business. First you need a NAS capable of holding at least 4 drives to be scalable and fault tolerant. Why? The most basic SCALABE Raid configuration is RAID 5 which needs at least 3 like sized drives to function. Thus if you wanted a scalable implementation of 4GB, the best setup would be to install 3 each 3TB hard drives which would give you an initial storage capacity of 6TB (in RAID 5 the size of one drive is lost to ensure redundant data should a drive fail). Should your organization want to grow beyond 6TB of storage, you could add another 3TB drive to get a total of 9TB total storage.
This all sounds great right? It is IF your failure is a hard drive, not the NAS itself. Should the NAS box fails, say 2 years down the road, will your hard drives function in another NAS? Will the NAS be available to buy? Will the newer firmware function with the drives setup with the original NAS?
Some new NAS units, such as the NetGear ReadyNAS allow you to connect your NAS directly to their Cloud Service and backup the NAS continuously in the background. This gives your hardware NAS acceptable fault tolerance should you have a NAS hardware failure. It should allow for nearly complete recovery abet at the speed of your Internet connection.
For me a NAS server looks better in a small business environment. Components are replaceable; a software image of the OS portion of the server allows for quick recovery on another box should there be a catastrophic failure of the Operating System. In addition, a mid tower case typically has room for at least 6 drives and the choice of a quality RAID card will allow for multiple cards per system giving you the ability to add a second RAID in the same enclosure (read even more scalability).
This setup does have its weaknesses though. First you have to have the knowledge to set it up, not a task for the beginner. Second you need to plan on a RAID card failure. When I build a server based NAS I purchase a second RAID card of the same model and firmware release as a backup.
All said there are a number of viable options. You and your employer are the variable in the equation.

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