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Review: Thecus N4100 IP Storage Appliance

by Steve Kerrison on 18 July 2005, 00:00

Tags: Thecus (4978.TWO)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabk4

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Introduction

If there's one thing you can be sure of in the world of computing, it's that no matter how much storage you have, you'll find a way of filling it. It's also at that exact point, where all your drives are full to the brim, that one of your hard drives dies, ensuring the loss of as much data as possible. With games taking up more and more space, broadband connections allowing the download of large files in less time, and the ability to store media such as music and DVD collections on hard drives, the need for capacious, reliable storage has never been so great. Take that idea into the office and never before have we had such media rich files traversing networks. Data needs sharing and storing, and there's an awful lot of it.

Adding or upgrading hard drive is one solution to storage problems, but soon enough that'll probably fill up too, and if something disastrous happens to the computer, you could be waving goodbye to your data. Today we're taking a look at an alternative solution for the small or home office, or perhaps the media junkie.

Thecus N4100 Network Attached Storage

The concept of Network Attached Storage, or NAS, is quite simple. Put a storage device on the network that is accessible by other machines on the network, which can be used to store, serve or backup data. A NAS system is basically a computer dedicated to the task of storing data. The centrally stored data can be accessed across the network, making it an excellent solution for small businesses needing to share data amongst employees, or even the more adventurous enthusiast looking for somewhere to store that massive media collection.

Thecus' N4100 appliance is one such NAS implementation. The N4100 combines RAID data protection with the functionality to store data in the region of a Terabyte. That's a lot of storage and insurance against drive failure. Let's dive into some specs, shall we?

CPUIntel IOP
1st Network InterfaceGigabit Intel 82541
Optional 2nd Network InterfaceGigabit Intel 82541
or Wireless 802.11b/g
SATA ControllerIntel SATA controller
(4 SATA hard drives)
Flash16MB
SystemDDR256MB
HDD4x bays of 3.5” SATA HDD,
Single capacity supported
80/120/160/200/250/300/400GB
AC/DC200W ATX power supply
LED1 x Power LED
1 x System busy LED (booting, upgrade, shutdown)
2 x Network link + activity LED
4 x Hard drive power LED
4 x Hard drive activity LED
4 x Hard drive error LED
Dimension167mm(W) x 199mm(H) x 223mm(D)
RAID Levels0, 1, 5, JBOD
Auto RebuildRebuild new hard drives by inserting HDD to and existing RAID system
Hot SwapHard drives are allowed to be removed and inserted on the fly and N4100 still provides service during swapping
Client PlatformWindows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP
UNIX/Linux/BSD (by CIFS)
Apple OS X (by CIFS)

The sample kindly provided by Armari features two 1Gbps network interfaces and four 300GB Seagate Barracuda SATA drives, totaling 1.2TB or storage, or 900GB once you set it up in a RAID 5 configuration, which is the sensible thing to do.