Cavalry Storage CAND3001T0 1TB Network Drive ReviewNemo - February 4, 2009
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The initial setup process for the CAND3001T0 was accomplished using the setup utility provided on the installation CD. Aside from changing the network address and time setting, the unit is still configured with the factory default settings. However, there are other features we can take advantage of, such as setting up users and groups, enabling FTP and iTunes servers, and changing the RAID level settings. The CAND3001T0 includes a web-based user interface that you access using a browser. In order to access the page, you can use the server name or the IP address you specified in the setup process. If you left the server name as "giganas", which is the default, then simply typing "http://giganas/login.cgi" in your browser address bar will take you to the login screen for the CAND3001T0. Here you will need to type in the administrator's username and password. Since everything is still using the original factory settings, you use the default of "admin" for both the username and password. We'll cover how to change this later.
The web UI management pages are organized into seven tabs:
DiskTools – this section enables you to change the RAID level settings on the unit, check the status of the hard drives, specify the time interval for powering down the disk drives, and monitor disk usage.
System – in this section you can perform various management functions, such as change the LAN and time settings specified during the initial setup process, update the firmware, set up e-mail alerts, and turn off the CAND3001T0.
Account – this section is used for user, share and group management. Here you can set up users, assign them to groups, define access rights, and establish disk usage quotas.
Server – this section allows you to define and enable server functionality for the FTP, file, DHCP, and print servers, as well as set the unit up as an iTunes music server.
Backup – the CAND3001T0 can be set up to automatically backup to another NAS unit on your network by specifying the settings in the this tab.
LogFiles – here you can examine several logs maintained by the unit for the various servers, such as FTP, DHCP, and Samba (file server), along with a system and administration log.
Logout – logs out of the web UI.
The factory default setup for the unit is a RAID-1 array using the ext3 file system. However, the CAND3001T0 supports four different hard drive configurations: JBOD, or "Just a Bunch of Disks", (the two drives are configured as a single large volume), RAID-0 (also known as "striping", where two identical drives are set up as one larger drive) and RAID-1 (also known as "mirroring", where one drive maintains a copy of the other drive). The pros and cons of each type of setup are outside the scope of our review, but a concise explanation can be found in The Official OCC RAID Guide, Version 2.0. While the first configuration, JBOD, is not technically a RAID type, it is listed on the RAID Settings page. That's only three, JBOD, RAID-0 and RAID-1, so where's the fourth one? You can define each drive as a separate volume, but just not on this page. We'll get to that when we look at the "Basic Mode" page.
Like many network storage devices, the CAND3001T0 uses a version of Linux as its operating system. As with Windows or any other operating system, Linux has its own set of structures for storing files. Two of those file systems, ext2 and ext3, are supported by the CAND3001T0. Just as with RAID arrays, a thorough discussion of the differences between the two are beyond the scope of the review. However, the major difference between the two is that the ext3 file system is a journaled file system that improves reliability and will make it easier to recover from an improper shutdown.
Looking at the "RAID Setting" page you'll see some basic information on the current RAID array including RAID level, file system used, the size of the array in GB, and the amount of space currently used. The 128MB you see here is space allocated when the array is first built. There is also a graphic showing the drives in the array with the status and information on the drives currently installed.
You will also notice a Language settings drop down box on the left side. This box is available on all the pages of the web UI and allows you to select the language used in the user interface. You can have it auto-detect the language using the browser settings (default) or you can pick one of seven different languages from the list.
If you want to change the RAID level or file system used you must first drop the current array by clicking the "Remove raid system" button. Of course, this will destroy any data you have on the drives, so the system asks you to confirm this before continuing. This would be an excellent time to back up any data you want to keep before hitting the OK button. During the removal process, the system displays a count-up timer page and once the process is complete will close the page altogether. At this point the CAND3001T0 is also automatically powered off. To continue, you will need to turn the unit back on and wait for it to boot up. Once the unit is ready, you may find it necessary to re-run the setup utility off the installation CD in order to have the system recognized on the network. Removing the RAID array also destroys any LAN and time settings you entered earlier. If you reset these now, you may have to reset them again after the new RAID array structure is created. This is rather annoying if you are doing this multiple times looking at all the RAID structures under both file systems as I did during testing.
Once you're done with the setup process, you'll need to log back into the web UI. With no array installed you'll notice your options are reduced to DiskTools and System. Under DiskTools you can create a new RAID array under RAID Setting. The Disk Status graphics shows there is no array present, so you can choose between the two RAID options, as well as JBOD, and also select the file system to use. Once you have selected the desired RAID level and file system, clicking the 'Create raid system' button brings up a warning that all data will be cleaned, but since there is no data on the drives because we took care of that when we removed the array earlier, it's safe to hit the OK button. The system then begins the process by creating the RAID system and displays a progress bar. This step is relatively quick and then begins the process of formatting the drives, which can take a few minutes.
Once this process is complete it would be a good idea to select the System tab and make sure your LAN and time setting are correct as they would have been reset during the RAID array creation process.
The Basic Mode section is aptly named, as it offers you access to basic information on the hard drives installed in the CAND3001T0. If you have created a RAID array about the only thing accessible through this page is the hard drive health information. When you click on the Detail button you are treated to a wealth of SMART information on the drive. Digging though this may be somewhat challenging, but if you persist there is one piece of useful information near the bottom of the section where it reports the hard drive temperature. Since there is no system monitoring capability, this is the only place where you can get an indication of the temperatures.
Returning to the main page in this section, you'll notice a Disk Utility tab where you can specify the amount of time the hard drives must be inactive before the system turns them off to conserve power.
Remember in the previous section where we dropped the RAID array? If you don't want to create a new array, you can set the CAND3001T0 up to use two separate hard drives. In addition to the ext2 and ext3 file systems used in the RAID array, you can choose to format the drives using a FAT32 format. There is also an option to encrypt the drive, which requires you to key in a 20-character password (it must be exactly 20-characters). After making your choices, the system will ask you for confirmation before formating the drive. During the format process the system will scroll a warning message across the top of the page and update the page with the progress every few seconds by blanking out the page and redrawing it. This is a completely different approach than what we saw during the formating of the RAID arrays, which simply displayed a progress bar on the screen. It can also be rather disconcerting to see the screen go blank for a couple of seconds if you're not expecting it. I would have much preferred to see this page behave just like the formatting process in the RAID setup section.
Once the formatting is complete, the system will reboot and you will need to log back in to the web UI.
It's obvious the CAND3001T0 is designed to be used in a RAID configuration and is not intended to be set up using two separate drives. In fact, non-RAID support is not even mentioned in the list of features on the Cavalry web site. When formatting the two drives as separate volumes, only the second drive has share management enabled. The user manual acknowledges this in the FAQ section, stating “The NAS GUI Software is design to managing RAID-1 or 0 functions, if user wants to use two separate HDD in the NAS, share management will recognize only the first formatting disk.” However, the second disk is still available as a shared volume. It's also important to note that the device listed as "/dev/hdc" is the first drive that will have share management even though it is the second drive listed on the Basic Mode page.
As far as I could tell during testing, the only effect choosing to encrypt the hard drive had was to dramatically increase the format time. After formatting the drive I was able to store and access files across the network without having to provide any password. There is no mention of this feature in the user manual either.
The final option is the Disk Usage page where you can check the amount of disk space being used. There is an option to display the results in summary fashion or by user.
Let's move on and check out some of the System features on the CAND3001T0.