Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/28/ten_two_bay_nas_drives_storage/

Ten... two-bay Nas boxes

Dual-drive data dumpsters

By Shaun Dormon

Posted in Hardware, 28th April 2012 08:00 GMT

Product Round-up Network attached storage is the panacea for many of today’s data excesses, especially you’ve developed a music and movie habit, need a backup server or fancy your own personal cloud. Two-bay nas drives are an affordable option for file sharing, supporting mixed platform environments in addition to web HTTP and FTP services. Typically, other luxuries such as DLNA media streaming and BitTorrent functions are also on board, enabling the nas box to haul in and distribute media independently of any host computer.

Conveniently, multibay nas drives can be bought unpopulated, so you can use any existing internal Sata storage you may have and upgrade when it suits you.

On test are 2TB models with the unpopulated offerings from Netgear, QNAP, Synology and Thecus filled with two 1TB Samsung HD103SI drives. The exception is Western Digital’s 6TB My Book Duo, with two pre-loaded 3TB WD drives in place. For benchmarking with CrystalDiskMark, the devices were configured in RAID 0 although all the devices are capable of RAID 1 and JBOD arrangements. So let’s see what’s in store...

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo

RH Numbers

Having tested the LinkStation Pro Duo early in 2011, I'm a little disappointed to see that it hasn't been updated. But I'm not too surprised, either. My only real gripe with this unit is the somewhat sluggish web interface, which takes a while to load pages. These woes aside, I'd consider this model pretty much standard fare for an entry-level nas, which has all of the necessary sharing and streaming features and sufficient performance to satisfy.

You'll get 50-60MB/s all day, which is more than enough to handle your backups, stream media and run a personal web server. At £192 for the 2TB model it's the cheapest device here too, but you can always opt to splash your cash on a 4TB or 6TB model.

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo dual bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 70%
Price £192 (2TB), £278 (4TB), £364 (6TB)
More info Buffalo Technology

Buffalo TeraStation Pro Duo

RH Numbers
RH Recommended Medal

Although it comes from the same manufacturer as the LinkStation Pro Duo, the TeraStation in an entirely different beast. Sporting a 1.66GHz dual-core Intel Atom CPU paired with 2GB of DDR 2 Ram, this box not only pushes data through two USB 2.0 ports, but also a pair of USB 3.0 ports and twin Gigabit Ethernet ports. Also to be found on the back are a 9-pin UPS port and a switch to toggle between booting from the internal disks or a USB drive. Turning back to the front you'll find an LCD which displays some useful statistics, and a lockable drive access door.

It's certainly well equipped and the benchmarks show it. Sequential writes hit 100MB/s making this the fastest nas box on test here. The only thing holding the TeraStation back is that it uses the same sluggish user interface that appears on the LinkStation Pro Duo. Admittedly it is faster, but it's still not as snappy as it could be.

Buffalo TeraStation Pro Duo dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 85%
Price £420 (2TB), £540 (4TB), £660 (6TB)
More info Buffalo Technology

Freecom SilverStore

RH Numbers

Freecom's SilverStore is a stylish product that combines lots of features and decent hardware. Under the brushed aluminium exterior you'll find a 1GHz Marvell 6283 CPU and 128MB of DDR memory. There's also the expected removable drive trays, which are probably fine, but feel like they could break given the force needed to remove them. The result of this is that I nearly threw a disk into the wall as it finally freed itself. Perhaps indoors is not the best place to swap disks – try an open field.

Extra connectivity comes in the form of a lone USB 3.0 port on the front and a USB 2.0 port at the rear. Uniquely there is also support for Tonido which provides remote access to your files through any web browser, or iOS, Android, Blackberry or WinPho7 device.

Performance is average, being pretty similar to the LinkStation, but it is a tad more expensive, especially at £750 for the 6TB version.

Freecom SilverStore dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 65%
Price £140 (no disks), £314 (2TB), £390 (4TB), £750 (6TB)
More info Freecom

Freecom Dual Drive Network Centre

RH Numbers

Unique to this product are its individually locking drive bays, so if one disk needs to go walkies, the other is still safe. Still, such thoughtfulness aside, this ARM9-based unit is not going to be my personal choice any time soon because it's deathly slow, with a peak read of 26MB/s.

The Dual Drive Network Centre also demands a licence code to unlock any of the media streaming or BitTorrent features. At one time, this cost £18, but Freecom has wised up and the relevant code is stuck on the supplied CD, so be sure to scour the box thoroughly to get these features activated.

Unpopulated, Freecom is currently offering this box for £88, which is a good deal cheaper than any of the others on test. If you've undemanding needs for something like a low-cost background back-up device, then it should be just fine.

Freecom Dual Drive Network Centre dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 55%
Price £88 (no disks), £263 (2TB), £323 (3TB), £331 (4TB)
More info Freecom

Netgear ReadyNAS Duo V2

RH Numbers

When I reviewed the ReadyNAS Duo V2 back in January, I thought that this nas had the potential to go from good to excellent if the range of add-ons available to other ReadyNAS products were ARM compatible. Whilst this hasn't quite materialised yet, Netgear's Smart Network Apps are on the way which will bring add-ons to its latest ARM-based ReadyNAS devices.

Even if you buy it now, the Duo V2 gives you ReadyNAS Remote which is one of the most seamless remote file access systems available. There's also the little matter of performance where you'll find everything runs respectably around 60MB/s. Oh, and there is USB 3.0 on the back too. It is a touch expensive when populated though, so maybe best to buy your own disks.

Netgear ReadyNAS Duo V2 dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 80%
Price £150 (no disks), £300 (1TB), £400 (2TB)
More info Netgear

QNAP TS-219P II

RH Numbers
RH Recommended Medal

Instead of going for Intel chippery, QNAP has used a Marvell Kirkwood MV6282 CPU clocked all the way up to 2GHz to power its second-generation TS-219P. With that speedy processor you also get 512MB DDR 3 memory, three USB 2.0 ports and two eSata ports, making this the only nas here with three separate interface standards.

You also get some client-side software as well as all that hardware; QNAP includes its QGet app which allows you to remotely control HTTP/FTP/BitTorrent downloads over the web from any PC or Mac. NetBak Replicator is a Windows-only backup manager that's present too.

To top it all off, this box offers a pretty decent performance, with all sequential operations hovering in the 70MB/s region. It's boon for Mac users too, as it can read HFS+ volumes attached to its external interfaces which gives it an edge over most alternatives. This nas may be pricey but it does it all.

QNAP TS-219P II dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 85%
Price £295 (no disks)
More info QNAP

Synology Diskstation DS212J

RH Numbers
RH Editor's Choice

The DS212J is Synology's latest personal two-bay nas. It runs the company's splendid DiskStation Manager 4.0 software. Although only DSM 3.2 was included with this unit, Synology offers version 4.0 as a free download.

It would take a separate review to describe how good DSM has become these days but it truly sets Synology apart from the rest, with a proper graphical interface somewhat reminiscent of Ubuntu. There is every streaming feature you could dream of to be found and even antivirus is available freely from the Package Centre.

Combine this with solid performance on par with the ReadyNAS Duo V2 and a low entry price of £162 without disks, it is ideally suited for the user who wants to do a lot, but doesn't need the highest performance.

Synology Diskstation DS212J dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 85%
Price £162 (no disks)
More info Synology

Synology Diskstation DS212+

RH Numbers

The DS212+ takes the underpinnings of the DS212J up to the business level with the same 2GHz Marvell chip found in the QNAP TS-219P II. On top of that you get USB 3.0 on the back and an SD card slot on the front making this ideal for archiving direct from your DSLR if you don't fancy an Eye-Fi card.

Moving from J to + also gets you front-loading drive trays with rubber damping mounts for near silent operation. What's most important, though, is that performance boost: sequential and random writes are to be found nearing in on 90MB/s making this the second fastest nas here. The only thing keeping it from scoring higher is its price tag.

Synology Diskstation DS212+ dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 80%
Price £279 (no disks)
More info Synology

Thecus N2200EVO

RH Numbers

Thecus has also opted for an ARM9 chip in the N2200 EVO - this one being a dual-core 600MHz Cavium CNS3420 - which means that the performance isn't quite so dire as the Freecom Dual Drive Network Centre, but it's still dawdling. You'll spend your life at 30-40MB/s with this one.

Its design is impressive and features two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Drive removal is a snap too. Unfortunately, this just isn't enough to get over how painfully slow the user interface. Still, you can install extra modules and a licence for the Twonky Media server software is included, so you’ll have no trouble streaming to any of your devices.

The N2200EVO will serve most needs and has a modest price, but the latest offerings from other vendors are quite a bit faster for not much extra. That said, the company's Atom-powered N2800 looks like a interesting alternative with its HDMI output, but alas costs around £350 unpopulated.

Thecus N2200 EVO dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 60%
Price £125
More info Thecus

Western Digital My Book Live Duo

RH Numbers

The My Book Live brings a much needed feature to the party: easily removable disks. It can be opened simply by pressing on the top and undoing a thumb-turnable screw, making drive swaps simple.

The 6TB unit I tested formatted as 5559GB and used two 3TB Caviar Green disks which use the variable RPM Intellipower system. Although it is a bit more expensive, I found the performance to be comparable to the Linkstation – not amazing, but just fine for a large archive volume.

What sets this apart from other mid-range systems is the WD 2go and WD Photos apps which give you mobile access to your files on any iOS or Android device. You can also go through a browser at WD2go.com, which will mount your remote shares onto your local desktop.

Western Digital My Book Live Duo dual-bay NAS drive

Reg Rating 75%
Price £330 (4TB), £400 (6TB)
More info Western Digital

Nas box browser interfaces

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo dual bay NAS drive interface

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo interface is the same as the TeraStation Pro
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Freecom SilverStore dual-bay NAS drive interface

Freecom SilverStore interface
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Freecom Dual Drive Network Centre dual-bay NAS drive

Freecom Dual Drive Network Centre interface
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Netgear ReadyNAS Duo V2 dual-bay NAS drive

Netgear ReadyNAS Duo V2 interface
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QNAP TS-219P II dual-bay NAS drive interface

QNAP TS-219P II interface
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Synology Diskstation DS212J dual-bay NAS drive interface

Synology Diskstation interface
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Thecus N2200 EVO dual-bay NAS drive interface

Thecus N2200 EVO interface
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Western Digital My Book Live Duo dual-bay NAS drive interface

Western Digital My Book Live Duo interface
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