NAS shoot-out: 5 storage servers battle for business
Five- and six-bay NAS cabinets from Iomega, Netgear, QNAP, Synology, and Thecus compete on speed, ease, and business features
In addition to the performance benchmarks, I tested the NAS hardware in a variety of usage scenarios to verify basic functionality -- including advanced functions that a more technical business might draw on. I did not benchmark in these areas, but I did work each box pretty hard to make sure they all did what they were supposed to do. Testing was in the following five areas:
- iSCSI: Using Windows Server 2003 to mount the NAS as an iSCSI target and running a Microsoft SQL Server database
- Virtualization: Running several servers in a test VMware environment
- Rsync: Backing up 4TB of data between two different NAS boxes
- NFS: Mounting NFS mounts to run VMware images, as well as for general data storage
- Reformatting RAID volumes and a factory reset of the NAS
As would be expected, none of the hardware in this price range gave me any surprises in these areas.
NAS shoot-out: And the winner is...
In conclusion, this NAS market segment offers many choices, but overall the hardware is so similar that the real differences come down to the software.
For business customers, Netgear and possibly Iomega are two solid choices. Both have long-term warranties and more seasoned service and support options -- advantages that are reflected in their higher price tags. Overall, these two manufacturers have the most business-focused features in their products. Netgear has the clear edge in ease of setup and ease of administration.
All of the other products in this NAS shoot-out are just as interesting. Synology and QNAP are terrific boxes -- and my personal favorites in this group. QNAP -- the overall winner -- strikes the best balance among power, ease, and price. Thecus is the least expensive and one of the fastest in the test, at least for Windows users. It offers a great deal of bang for the buck, but also complexity. A less technical business would be better off with another solution.
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