How Does NAS RAID Protect My Data?

Having a network attached storage device gives everyone on your network convenient access to the data on it; but how does NAS RAID protect my data?

Quite simply, a NAS device without RAID (NOT RAID0, which is NOT really RAID, IMHO) is just an external hard drive with a network card instead of a USB cable. And what do we know about external hard drives? They all fail eventually, usually with important data, typically NOT backed up.

NAS RAID protects your data from a hard drive failure by allocating resources from multiple hard drives in a distributed (RAID5, RAID6) or duplicated (RAID1) fashion. With RAID1, every hard drive in the NAS is “mirrored” onto another. Either drive fails and your data remains both safe and available.

Most network attached storage devices allow for you to configure it to send an administrative email when that happens, and I recommend you do configure your NAS that way.

With RAID5 or RAID6, an array of 3 or more hard drives can suffer a failure of 1 hard drive (RAID5) or even 2 hard drives in the case of RAID6 and your data remains intact.

The only case I can see made for having a network storage device without the benefit of RAID data protection is if the sole purpose of the unit is for other data storage devices to be backed up to it.

But you know how it goes, eventually, someone will store data there. Backing up data is fantastic, as long as the restore process goes as planned. Never having to resort to the backup because you have redundant hard drives storing your data is better yet.

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Secrets To NAS Backup

So how do you backup a NAS?

There are several ways to backup your network attached storage; and I do recommend that regardless how you do it, somehow you get a backup off site to a geographically diverse location.

With all of the natural disasters recently, I presume I do not have to argue that point too strongly?

Let’s look at some NAS backup options:

  • Attach a USB external hard drive of sufficient capacity to the NAS and configure your NAS to backup to it. This is easy with a ReadyNAS. The backup can be on demand when you press a button or scheduled. This type of backup will likely be proprietary in nature and not readable from your Windows PC directly.
  • Attach a USB external hard drive to the NAS or to your PC, formatted in FAT32 or NTFS (for Windows) and copy the files yourself. XCopy will work for the most part, but I actually prefer RoboCopy. The first copy is lengthy, subsequent RoboCopy’s can do just changed/new files. RoboCopy can also be scheduled. If you want, RoboCopy has a GUI version.
  • Online Backup Service
    • With a Netgear ReadyNAS, the ReadyNAS Vault option is built in. Just subscribe to the service and it’s a piece of cake to setup. ReadyNAS Vault is built on Elephant Backup technology.
    • Few online backup services will work as they are with a NAS. Reason being, they do not allow network drives. You need a business style online backup like Mozy Pro, then the setup and configuration is pretty much what you would expect.
  • Backup to another NAS. Naturally, this can be done using the other NAS like an external USB hard drive. Here again, Netgear ReadyNAS makes this easy with a built in option to backup to another ReadyNAS, which can be at a remote site. Nice.
  • Normal server backup software. If you use Symantec Backup Exec on a server you can reach out and backup the NAS as you can any network share.
  • Similarly, other backup software, even Windows Backup can backup your NAS, map a drive letter to the share you want to backup if necessary, though some software will work with UNC (\NASnamesharename).

Some of the obvious limitations are going to be finding backup media large enough to backup your NAS data to. If backing up to tape it could easily take a stack of tapes. That’s probably why backing up to something link ReadyNAS Vault, Mozy Pro, or another remote NAS probably make the most sense.

NAS devices are versatile, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Just make sure your data is backed up regularly!

D-Link Adds Cloud Backup As NAS Backup Option

D-Link, playing catch up to Netgear ReadyNAS, just announced that it has partnered with CTERA’s online backup service.

It will be integrating online backup or “cloud backup” capability into the DLink DNS-323 NAS device.

The service lets users back up files from any PC to the DNS-323, which then can automatically back up to CTERA’s online backup service. File can be accessed or recovered via web browser and users can roll back stored files to previous versions up to 30 days old.

The service will start up sometime in June 2010 and all new and current DNS-323 owners will have a free 30 day trial. Annual plans are available starting from $99 per year. Pay-as-you-go plans are also available, starting from $4.99 a month. To sign up for the new service, visit http://dlink.ctera.com.

I am happy to see D-Link recognize the need for this important NAS backup option.

How To Copy Files From PC To NAS Device

I am often asked how to copy files from a PC to a NAS device or external hard drive. While this is a one time deal, for the most part, and I recommend storing data permanently on a RAID NAS device and then backing up THAT network storage perhaps to an online backup service.

How you go about this depends on if everything you really need off of it is conveniently located in “My Documents” or “C:Data” or something like that and not scattered everywhere on the drive.

Programs typically cannot be transferred, they must be “installed” on the new PC, so this is just talking about copying data.

For years what I have done for friends and clients as a “CYA” for myself is to transfer the ENTIRE contents of their old drive to C:OLD-DRIVE on the new PC; then tell them to look for what they find they are missing there. The advice is to blow it away after 3 – 6 months when you are sure you have everything.

I would bet that 99% of the time, no one ever deletes “C:OLD-DRIVE” and when they get the NEXT new PC it’s still there!

If you want to copy EVERYTHING (which includes a lot of Windows garbage) to your NAS device or external hard drive, here is the command, assuming your target drive is F: and your current drive is C: and you want to copy the entire C: drive.

At a command prompt (DOS prompt):

XCopy C:*.* F:{directory name} /c/e/h/i/k/r/s/y

Replace {directory name} with whatever descriptive title you want, using no special characters not allowed in file/directory names.

I first make sure to find and delete the internet temporary files. Not only can they be thousands of files, can be gigabytes of data, but there is often a badly formatted filename that will cause XCopy to crash before it’s done.

When done, it should say “xx,xxx,xxx files copied” and NOT “insufficient memory”.

This isn’t the only way to skin the cat so to speak, but it works pretty well and has kept me out of trouble from clients for many years.

Adjustments can be made to accommodate different needs, but to copy files from your PC to the NAS device or external hard drive, it will do the job.

How To Backup Server Data To NAS Device Share

One of benefits of having a network storage device for a small business is that you can “mirror” your key data to your NAS device as a readily available backup.

What I have done is create a batch file on the server that looks like this:

Net use K: \NAS1General /y
RoboCopy D:SharesF-Drive K:Server1F-Drive /MIR /FFT /R:5 /W:5 /LOG:Robo-F.txt
Net use /d K:

I then schedule the job to run at night.

The /R:5 tells robocopy to retry busy files only 5 times, otherwise it tries 1 million times!
The /W5 tells robocopy to wait 5 seconds between retries.

(Without setting /R & /W, 1 open file from 1 idiot who did not log out before going home can keep the backup stuck all night.)

During the next day, if anyone determines a file needs to be restored, no need to restore from a backup, just copy it back from the NAS device.

If the server should fail, having a business network storage device online with the data as of the night before can really buy some time in getting the primary server rebuilt.

Even Microsoft Exchange email is available as of the night before since another job usesExMerge to export each individuals mailbox to a .pst file as a backup.

The RoboCopy command above creates a “mirror” of the data in that any file deleted from the source also gets deleted from the NAS. Yet if something gets deleted from the NAS, it will NOT be deleted from the source server.

Home Network Storage – Which Home NAS Device Is Right For You

I see a lot of questions posting on forums asking which NAS device they should buy for home network storage. Some of these posters are quite astute in that they have seen the shortcomings in the more “affordable” units.

These days just about everyone tries to cobble together a hard drive and network card, stuff it in a box with a power supply and call it a network attached storage (NAS) unit.

They are not, however, all the same. Not even close. Let’s look at some criteria to help you decide which home NAS device is right for you.

What features should you look for in a home NAS device?

  • Multiple hard drives with hot swap capability
  • RAID1 or RAID5 Capacity (Not RAID0 or JBOD)
  • Ability to configure email notifications of hard drive problems
  • 2 or more USB 2.0 ports that support both shared printers AND external USB hard drives
  • Easy to use web interface
  • Builtin support for an online backup service
  • Support for all operating systems you own or plan to own (Windows, Mac, Linux)

There are other features that I like to see in a home network storage device, but these are the ones that in my mind are non-negotiable.

Home Network Storage hard drive considerations

The first four features really work together. Unless you plan on using the home NAS devicesolely for the purpose of backing up other devices, it only makes sense that you want the unit to be reliable; and it just won’t be without multiple drives configured with RAID (other than RAID0, which does not protect your data) configured as RAID1, RAID5 or Netgears patented X-RAID.

Additionally, RAID is not much good to you if you do not have a reliable way of being notified that a drive has failed and that your hard drive fault tolerance is in jeopardy.

Quality home NAS devices usually include some type of visual indicator on the front of the unit AND the ability to easily configure the unit to send you an email when there is a problem you need to attend to.

USB Support

Some of the cheaper home NAS offerings only have one USB port and may only support printers and print sharing. This is short changing you.

You want the ability to backup your NAS to an external hard drive, preferably with the touch of a button, and then take that drive offsite – your locker at work or a bank safe deposit box.

The best units allow you to plug in a camera, USB hard drive, printer, or flash drive.

Another use for plugging in an external hard drive to the USB port is to actually be able to set that drive up as a network storage share also. Keep in mind that this drive will not be RAID protected, but it may be just temporary too.

Configure your Home NAS Device With Your Browser

Most home NAS devices will allow you to configure the unit with just a web browser and hopefully will support all of the major browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.

Setup and configuration is not something you want to have to learn, you want it to be intuitive. Make sure ones you look at are easy to use.

Builtin support for online backup service

Protecting your data, music, pics, video, etc with a quality RAID NAS is only the first step; as I mentioned above with the external USB hard drive, get a copy of your data offsite so you are protected against theft and natural disasters.

Online backup services have really come of age and are both easy to use and affordable.

Backing up your home NAS to an online backup service is simple if your device has that ability builtin. Netgear is a leader on this and I see that DLink has recently added this ability.

Simple and automatic need to be the hallmarks of any online bakcup service you use.

Full Operating System support

While most NAS devices for home use will support Windows, Mac and Linux, double check to make sure whatever unit you consider supports every device you have.

Some manufacturers make sure that they fully support Apple Time Machine, for instance, which is ideal if you have one or more Mac’s.

The home NAS devices we recommend and review on Network Storage Tips have the features discussed above and many many more.

Netgear Announces ReadyNAS Ultra For Advance Home Network Storage

Here are some links to preorder several of the new Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra Series network storage devices for home and small business network storage.

Netgear is just now announcing details on the new ReadyNAS Ultra lineup of home network storage products aimed at advanced home users who have large digital media libraries – music, photos, video – and are looking for maximum performance.

Media enthusiasts will be able to run applications concurrently, yet efficiently, with these Intel Atom powered NAS devices.

 

Storing, protecting, sharing and enjoying your home media has never been easier.

The ReadyNAS Ultra takes advantage of some new partnerships Netgear has signed with TiVO, for storing recorded TV and ORB for streaming your stored media files to a host of mobile devices.

The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 (4 drive bay) and ReadyNAS Ultra 6 (6 drive bay) will be shipping soon. A diskless unit can be expected in the fall.

The ReadyNAS Ultra 6 is Netgear’s first 6 bay multimedia desktop storage system and offers both NAS and iSCSI SAN support; although few home users may appreciate the iSCSI side unless they are into virtualization.

The Ultra 6 offers over 90 MBps performance (up to 3 times the ReadyNAS Duo) along with the X-RAID2 RAID protection, ReadyNAS remote for secure drag and drop remote access and of course the optional ReadyNAS Vault online backup solution.

RAID 0/1/5/6 are also available if opting for the FlexRAID setup instead of X-RAID2.

The new ReadyNAS Ultra 4 will be similarly equipped with features

Home Network Storage – Access Your Music, Photos, Videos and Data From Any Computer Anywhere

Home network storage is the solution to organize music, photos and other important data all in one place on your home network so you can access it from any on your PCs or Macs.

Most homes now have multiple computers and handheld devices, some with network cables and others that increasingly are wireless. Yet these homes typically have no comprehensive organization of the files that they have paid good money for and would hate to lose.

If you have a library of iTunes or MP3 music you probably want to access it on your primary PC, your laptop via WiFi and also with your iPod or your new iPad. Why not play it through a home stereo system for everyone to enjoy?

Universal access to electronic entertainment media is no longer just a dream. And with a network storage device in your home you can not only enjoy your investment but protect it as well.

When you make the move to home network storage, you can store your music files (MP3′s, iTunes, etc) in one convenient location yet access it from anywhere in the house that your network cabling or WiFi reaches – even outdoors.

That is not all, though, because currently available network storage devices make it possible to access your music library and other data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection!

This type of access is not even that hard to setup. If you cannot do it, find a teenager in your house or borrow a neighbors kid to do it for you.

Avoid losing data or paying twice for a song or movie you have purchased before

I have written about some of the many people who stored their entire iTunes or other music or photo collection on just one PC or laptop and then lost it when that computers hard drive died.

In some cases, the data loss happened while at the computer repair shop.

Backing up is the answer, of course, but that gets complicated when the data is spread out over multiple computers. After all, each person in the family has his or her own music collection, right?

A quality home network storage device will include redundant hard drives so that if one hard drive fails, you do not lose any data. This is usually in an array of drives known as RAID.

You do not need to understand the technology, though.

Instead, you get an email from the device telling you of the problem (or imminent problem) and you get the bad hard drive replaced while your data is still protected by the other drive(s).

Additionally, now that your important data files are in one place, you can finally configure an online backup service easily and conveniently to automatically store copies of that important data at a secure server in another part of the country.

With all of the natural disasters of late I am sure you can appreciate the value of having your computer data backed up to a location far away from where you live.

Setup and configuration of these network storage devices is very simple and painless through a web browser. They attach to a home network very easily and are perfectly compatible with WiFi.

The uses for these compact NAS devices continue to blossom; as does your data and hence your need for a data storage unit like this. They are attractive, quiet, compact and green friendly. You will find them in all price ranges, many which are budget friendly.

Features, reliability and warranties doe vary, however, so I highly recommend consulting an expert authority before buying.

Secure your valuable photos, music, video and other data on a NAS device that will let you access it from any computer almost anywhere. The best devices support Windows, Mac and even mobile devices. Get the latest information for a wise decision on home network storage and gain the comfort of knowing your files are both safe and accessible.

Home Network Storage – Access Your Music, Photos, Videos and Data From Any Computer Anywhere

Home network storage is the solution to organize music, photos and other important data all in one place on your home network so you can access it from any on your PCs or Macs.

Most homes now have multiple computers and handheld devices, some with network cables and others that increasingly are wireless. Yet these homes typically have no comprehensive organization of the files that they have paid good money for and would hate to lose.

If you have a library of iTunes or MP3 music you probably want to access it on your primary PC, your laptop via WiFi and also with your iPod or your new iPad. Why not play it through a home stereo system for everyone to enjoy?

Universal access to electronic entertainment media is no longer just a dream. And with a network storage device in your home you can not only enjoy your investment but protect it as well.

When you make the move to home network storage, you can store your music files (MP3′s, iTunes, etc) in one convenient location yet access it from anywhere in the house that your network cabling or WiFi reaches – even outdoors.

That is not all, though, because currently available network storage devices make it possible to access your music library and other data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection!

This type of access is not even that hard to setup. If you cannot do it, find a teenager in your house or borrow a neighbors kid to do it for you.

Avoid losing data or paying twice for a song or movie you have purchased before

I have written about some of the many people who stored their entire iTunes or other music or photo collection on just one PC or laptop and then lost it when that computers hard drive died.

In some cases, the data loss happened while at the computer repair shop.

Backing up is the answer, of course, but that gets complicated when the data is spread out over multiple computers. After all, each person in the family has his or her own music collection, right?

A quality home network storage device will include redundant hard drives so that if one hard drive fails, you do not lose any data. This is usually in an array of drives known as RAID.

You do not need to understand the technology, though.

Instead, you get an email from the device telling you of the problem (or imminent problem) and you get the bad hard drive replaced while your data is still protected by the other drive(s).

Additionally, now that your important data files are in one place, you can finally configure an online backup service easily and conveniently to automatically store copies of that important data at a secure server in another part of the country.

With all of the natural disasters of late I am sure you can appreciate the value of having your computer data backed up to a location far away from where you live.

Setup and configuration of these network storage devices is very simple and painless through a web browser. They attach to a home network very easily and are perfectly compatible with WiFi.

The uses for these compact NAS devices continue to blossom; as does your data and hence your need for a data storage unit like this. They are attractive, quiet, compact and green friendly. You will find them in all price ranges, many which are budget friendly.

Features, reliability and warranties doe vary, however, so I highly recommend consulting an expert authority before buying.

Secure your valuable photos, music, video and other data on a NAS device that will let you access it from any computer almost anywhere. The best devices support Windows, Mac and even mobile devices. Get the latest information for a wise decision on home network storage and gain the comfort of knowing your files are both safe and accessible.

USB NAS – Do NOT Buy Until You Read This

USB NAS adapters are popular because so many people have external hard drives and have found that moving them from computer to computer is not as easy as first thought.

Since all of your computers are likely on your home network anyway, doesn’t it make sense to leave the external hard drive put and make it a home network storage device?

Naturally you want to do this without spending a lot of money or else you would just go over to my home network storage review and pick up a nice ReadyNAS network attached storage device. So while there are other devices in this category that may rate a little better in magazines than the one shown below, they cost double the amount.

Also, I prefer real user ratings, not magazine ratings. Why? Because there has been substantial, believable indications that professional reviewers will not diss a product for which their company receives advertising revenue. (See the user reviews of Pogoplug Multimedia Sharing Device on Amazon (never mind that Pogoplug is PINK!) which are at sharp contrast to one particular review from a magazine/website often cited for just such behavior).

Beware of USB NAS Adapters They Typically Disappoint

If you spend any time reading reviews of the several USB NAS adapters on the market, many from well known manufacturers like Hitachi and Trendnet, you will see that the reviews are not too complimentary.

Now, some of this could be because the level of technical expertise of someone looking for a device like this is not likely to be always high. But the makers of the devices should know that.

Even the one device that rates pretty well is still said to be slow. USB is never going to be as fast as a directly connected drive or a gigabit NAS device; and the word “adapter” is kind of a giveaway that you should expect some compromise.

Yet the connection is fast enough to stream multimedia and seems to be as fast as many wireless connections, so the only real noticeable problem will be when transferring large files you may want to connect the external USB hard drive directly to the computer in order to save time – or do it overnight or while you are gone at work.

The One USB NAS Adapter That Works

There is one USB NAS adapter that seems to please most of the people who have tried it, and it actually comes from a vendor that I had previously never heard of:
Cirago NUS1000 Network USB Storage Link

This adapter is small and compact, installation is pretty simple, and it works. Which is more than can be said for many of the others I looked at. It’s NOT pink, you can plug up to 4 USB devices (2 terabytes a piece for up to 8TB storage) even a USB printer can be shared.

It includes a button to “safely remove a USB device” and just in general seems to have covered the bases.

Have you used a USB NAS adapter yourself? Please leave a comment and tell us which one and how well it worked out for you.