D-Link DNS-323 2-Bay Network Storage Enclosure ReviewNemo - January 1, 2009
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Initial configuration of the DNS-323 begins by inserting the included startup CD into your optical drive and waiting for the startup page to appear and then clicking on the Easy Search Utility option on the navigation bar. The Easy Search utility detects all the DNS-323 devices on the network and displays them in a window along with the server name and network address information. If you have a router or other DHCP server, the unit should have its own IP address. However, if there is no DHCP server, the unit will automatically assign itself an IP address of 192.168.0.32. This screen also allows you to assign a static IP address as well as assign a mapped drive letter.
If you have the DNS-323 connected to a router, it should automatically be assigned an IP address and you can skip to the Web GUI configuration step. However, for testing purposes, I will be using a direct connection to the NAS server and need to assign a static IP address. This is simply a matter of highlighting the NAS server in the top window and then entering the network address specifics in the middle frame as shown. Also note that since this is a new install there is no volume created and you will not be able to assign a drive letter yet. Next we need to configure a volume on the DNS-323 using the web-based GUI. To access the interface, make sure you have clicked on the server name in the top window and then click the Configuration button on the right. This launches a web page in your browser and you can log in using the default user id of 'admin' and leave the password blank. Once that is taken care of click on the Configuration button.
Once the format is complete you need to restart the DNS-323 by clicking on the restart button. You'll see a prompt warning you to wait while the system reboots and a final screen showing you the reboot status. At this point you have created a volume on your NAS called 'Volume_1', which by default is available to anyone on the network with read and write privileges. Once the volume has been created you can use the D-Link Easy Search Utility to map a drive letter to the volume. As before, you can access this from the setup CD and highlight the DNS-323 unit in the top window and you should now see the volume you created in the window at the bottom. Click on 'Volume_1', choose an available drive letter and click the Connect button. If you did everything correctly you should get a confirmation message that the drive has been mapped.
First, make sure the drives you installed are correctly detected by the software. In this case we see the two 500GB Seagate drives I'll be using for testing. Now it's time to set up the drives and you'll have a couple of decisions to make. The DNS-323 supports four different hard drive configurations: Standard (each hard drive is configured as a separate volume), 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 two configurations, Standard and JBOD, are not technically RAID types, they are all listed together on one page. If you had installed only one drive, the Standard configuration would be the only option available to you. The DNS-323, running firmware version 1.05 or greater, will allow you to install a single drive initially and migrate to a RAID 1 setup later if you wish (more on that later). In this case, I am going to set up a RAID 1 configuration by selecting the RAID 1 radio button and clicking Next. The following screen asks you to choose how much space to allocate to the volume. You can allocate all or only a portion to the volume, with any left over being configured as a JBOD (non-mirrored) volume. Now, before you wonder why we only see half the total drive space available (498GB is roughly half the total of two 500GB drives), remember that RAID 1 uses one drive as a copy of the first, so you give up half your total space for the sake of redundancy. We're going to choose to allocate all of the space to the RAID 1 volume. Once you hit the Next button, you'll get a pop-up dialog warning you that what you're about to do will erase all the data on the drive and give you a chance to halt the process. Clicking OK will begin the formatting process denoted by a screen with a progress bar.
Once the format is complete you need to restart the DNS-323 by clicking on the restart button. You'll see a prompt warning you to wait while the system reboots and a final screen showing you the reboot status. At this point you have created a volume on your NAS called 'Volume_1', which, by default, is available to anyone on the network with read and write privileges. Once the volume has been created can use the D-Link Easy Search Utility to map a drive letter to the volume. As before, you can access this from the setup CD and highlight the DNS-323 unit in the top window and you should now see the volume you created in the window at the bottom. Click on 'Volume_1', choose an available drive letter and click the Connect button. If you did everything correctly you should get a confirmation message that the drive has been mapped.
At this point, the storage unit is ready to go. A lot of users might stop here because they find they can use the unit to store files without any further work. However, they would be cheating themselves so now let's take a look at some of the other features offered by the DNS-323.