Cavalry Storage CAND3001T0 1TB Network Drive ReviewNemo - February 4, 2009
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RAID-1 Functionality and Drive Failure Recovery
One of the benefits of using a NAS server for storage is the ability to create a RAID-1 array that helps protect your data in the event of a hard drive failure (NOTE: Using a RAID-1 array is not an acceptable alternative to regularly backing up your data!). Using a RAID-1 array mirrors your data on both drives. If one drive fails, you still have access to the data via the other drive. In order to test the ability of the CAND3001T0 to recover from a hard drive failure without losing data, I formatted the drives as a RAID-1 array and loaded the drive with a few megabytes of data. Next, I simulated a hard drive failure to see what would happen. In order to simulate a failure I needed to remove power from one drive and leave only one drive operational. The CAND3001T0 is a sealed unit with a metal foil sticker covering one of the access screws warning you that breaking the seal automatically voids the warranty, so don't try this at home.
Because the CAND3001T0 is a sealed unit, there is no support for hot swapping drives so I first had to power the unit down. After removing the sticker and opening up the case, I simply removed the power connector to the topmost drive and returned the unit to operation. The unit powered back up normally, but since there is just a single hard drive activity light on the front of the case, there is no failure mode indicator and no way to tell that one drive was no longer operational.
I then went into the Web UI under the DiskTools tab and saw the unit had correctly identified there was a drive missing from the array. Going into Windows Network Places, I selected the NAS device and scrolled through the data and accessed a few of the files to ensure all my data was there and everything was fine; the RAID-1 mirroring worked and all my data was safe. Next I powered the unit back down and reconnected the power cable on the "failed" drive. The system then booted back up normally and I went back into the Web UI to see how the system reacted to the replaced drive. The system correctly detected the presence of the drive, but still decided the drive was bad and needed to be replaced.
Hoping I could trick the system into thinking I had installed a new drive, I went through the power down process, but this time I physically removed the drive from the CAND3001T0 and used the test system to delete the partitions on the drive before reinstalling it. This still didn't cause the system to rebuild the RAID-1 array as the Web UI detected the presence of the drive, but still reported the drive needed to be replaced. My theory at this point is that the system must somehow know by the drive's serial number that I hadn't truly installed a new drive. Not having an identical drive to test out the rebuild function, I can't determine whether the system will automatically rebuild a failed RAID-1 array. At this point my only option was to click on the "Remove system data" button and go back into DiskTools and recreate the RAID-1 array manually. This, of course, destroys all the data on the good drive, so you will want to make sure your data is safely backed up before trying this yourself.
I discussed this problem with the technical staff at Cavalry and they followed the same procedures as I did and were able to get the unit to rebuild the array as shown in the screen shots below. As we were both using the latest version of the firmware I am not sure what the issue is.
(The screen shots above are courtesy of Calvary Storage)
The CAND3001T0 has the ability to act as a print server allowing you to attach a USB printer and share it across the network. There is a single USB port on the rear of the unit used for this purpose. Configuration is limited to making sure you have checked the Enable box on the Printer Server section in the Web GUI. This box is checked by default. The only thing you should have to do is connect the printer to the USB port on the CAND3001T0. You will need to install the correct printer drivers on each local machine and add the printer through Windows. To test this feature, I connected a Canon MP780 to the USB port on the CAND3001T0 and added the printer through Windows. Browsing for the printer on the network, it showed up under the default sever name as "lp", designated as a generic printer. Checking the Server window on the Web UI showed the Printer Server section now displayed the correct information with the printer listed as a Canon MP780. Once I added the printer and chose the driver, printing was just like using a direct-attached printer. I did get a pop-up notification from the Canon driver that it couldn't communicate with the printer, but the warning quickly disappeared and the document printed normally. This same problem occurred when testing the D-Link DNS-323 so it it safe to assume this is a printer issue and not a problem with the NAS server.
User, Share and Group Management
Unless you are using a network where permissions and accounts are controlled by a server, you will need some way to control access to the files and folders on the CAND3001T0. This is handled thought the Account tab on the Web UI. Setting up users and assigning them to groups was very straightforward. I was able to easily create a list of test users and add them to a test group. The default setup of the CAND3001T0 is for all users on the network to have full read/write permissions for all files and folders on the volume. Obviously, this is not an ideal setup when there are multiple users on the network, so you should take a few minutes to create users and give them only the necessary privileges. You can also limit how much space a particular user can consume by assigning disk space quotas. The CAND3001T0 assigns quotas at the user level and does not allow you to assign a quota to a group of users. Another limitation I found is that you can not assign shares at a very granular level. You can assign shares to folders at the root level, such as \public, but attempts to assign shares to subfolders results in an error message.
The CAND3001T0 default settings enable it to act as an FTP server. Unless you want to change the port used by the server there's nothing you need to do on the server side. You will need to know how to create users and assign specific access rights and also how to forward ports on your router. I had no issues with setting up the FTP server on both the standard port 21 and a non-standard port. I tested the functionality using the FireFTP add-in for Firefox and was able to access the folders for which the test user had permission. The CAND3001T0 doesn't enable you to actively monitor connected users, but it does provide a log of recent activity.
The unit enables the Apple Bonjour discovery protocol by default. If you want to allow it to act as an iTunes server you will need to check the iTunes Enable check box in the Server section. There is no ability to specify the location of the music so you must use the \public\music folder. It would have been really nice to see this as a configurable feature. Using a client PC with iTunes already installed the CAND3001T0 was detected and showed up under the Shared Music section as "giganas_Music_Box".
TorrentFlux BitTorrent Manager
As discussed in the configuration section, the CAND3001T0 can serve as a BitTorrent manager if you install the additional software required. Once you have successfully installed the software included on the installation CD things get a bit rocky. There is absolutely no documentation included on how to use the TorrentFlux software either in the manual included on the CD, nor anywhere on Cavalry's web site. The lack of documentation becomes painfully apparent as soon as you you try to launch TorrentFlux. The first thing you are presented with is a login screen and you are given no clue as to the username or password. Since TorrentFlux uses a MySQL database as the back end, you can log in using the default administrator credentials (Username: mysql / Password:123456). A user with little or no familiarity with using BitTorrent software packages will still be challenged to figure things out without a lot of work.
To test out the software, I first had to determine which ports to forward on my router for the torrents. Once you have logged in you can click on "admin" in the upper right corner of the screen and choose settings. Here it lists several items including the default port range and max download and upload speeds. Once I had all the settings squared away, I used a torrent of the Fedora Core 10 ISO image for testing. Once I had the metadata file name entered, I was able to start the download and seed the torrent as well. You want to take some time adjusting the settings to ge the download and upload bandwidth set to your liking and it would probably be best if you created a new user account that wasn't the default administrator account we used in this example.
As already mentioned in the configuration section, I was unable to set up an e-mail alert as the system does not provide you with the capability to provide login credentials for a SMTP server. Since I use an external SMTP service, that is a critical piece of information. You could probably set this up to use a SMTP server on your own network as long as it does not require you to log in to send e-mails.
The built-in backup features worked as described in the documentation as I was able to create backup job sets and have them kick off, both on a one-time and daily basis. However, what the documentation does not cover is how to restore the backup files. Although I was able to see the files, I was not able to copy them, either through Windows or by using telnet to access the Linux shell. You can see the results of these efforts in the configuration section.