MicroNet MaxNAS 2.5TB Server ReviewNemo - November 27, 2009
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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Running a small to medium size business presents enough challenges of its own without having to worry about infrastructure, but businesses need storage capacity just like home users do; however, their requirements extend beyond just the need for more space. Downtime and lost data are two things businesses can't afford. Statistics concerning small businesses and data loss are very sobering, with a staggering 70 percent of small firms that experience a major loss of data end up closing their doors within a year1.
It's not only ensuring reliable access and securing the data that businesses need worry about. Relying on direct attached storage or local drives can result in storage 'silos' making sharing and data backups more difficult. The obvious answer to these issues is some sort of network based storage solution. While placing your data on the network does not protect you against catastrophes such as fire or natural disasters, it can offer protection against hard drive failures and make implementing a robust backup plan easier.
Perhaps you've noticed the emphasis on the business-related aspect of network storage. While there are similarities between home/small office requirements and those of small/medium size businesses (SMB) and some products are marketed to both segments, businesses have other unique requirements and don't necessarily need some of the bells and whistles used to attract home buyers when it comes to networked storage. One of those areas is the ability to implement a storage area network (SAN) using a network appliance as well as emphasis on offering a complete solution, which is where the MicroNet MaxNAS unit being reviewed here comes into play.
MicroNet may not be a name that's familiar to a lot of people, but the company has been around for over 20 years as a provider of storage solutions for SMBs. Based out of Torrance, California, MicroNet and Fantom Drives are part of the same family, offering a wide range of storage products from single-drive external units to enterprise-class multi-bay rack-mount storage arrays. The particular unit under review is the MaxNAS 2.5TB RAID with SCSI, a 5-bay unit that ships with five 500GB drives with support for RAID 0/1/5/6/10 volumes and works as a NAS unit as well as operating as an iSCSI target to allow you to build a SAN using existing IP infrastructure. MicroNet also offers the MaxNAS in 5TB and 7.5TB models.
Generally, this section leads off with a tour around the box the unit comes in, including a look at all the pictures and features described on the box's exterior. We're going skip that as MicroNet takes a more business-like approach with the MaxNAS, which ships in a plain brown corrugated cardboard box devoid of any pictures. The lack of any external marketing is understandable as MicroNet probably figures any business has already performed the necessary research before purchasing one of these units.
Opening the box reveals the set of five hard drives enclosed in anti-static bags and safely nestled in an open-cell foam insert. Once we lift the set of drives and the separate foam insert out of the box, you can see the main unit has its own set of inserts protecting during shipping. The chassis is enclosed in a plastic bag to provide additional protection against scratches.
Once we have the unit out of the the plastic bag, you can get a better look at the front of the unit. Running down the left side of the case's front are a series of LED status indicators for LAN activity and USB copy and error status indicators. Hard drive activity and power indicators are included on the individual drive bays. Below the bank of LEDs is a front USB expansion port and a large power button with its own LED indicator in the middle. The front cover to the drive bays includes four mesh panels for cool air intake. At the bottom of the unit there is an LCD control panel with a series of four buttons for navigating through the options on the screen.
Looking at the unit from the side, we see a series of perforations that offer additional air intake for the drives and mainboard inside the case. Taking up the majority of the rear panel is the unit's 92mm cooling fan exhaust. The back of the unit has a series of additional connectors located on the right side, including an eSATA and two additional USB connections. Below that is a type B USB port for connecting the unit to another host and having it appear as a USB target and a serial port for communicating with a UPS device. There are also two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports that can function independently or in load balancing, failover or link aggregation modes. The integrated power supply has its own connector, power switch and 40mm exhaust on the bottom of the panel.
The bottom of the unit has a set of four rubber feet for keeping the unit from sliding around and makes stacking the unit easier. It also provides a little bit of extra clearance underneath for air to enter the cooling vents at the front of the bottom panel (located on the right in the screenshot).
Now that we've had a chance to get a look at the unit from the outside, let's check out the disk installation and initial setup.
1Impact on U.S. Small Business of Natural & Man-Made Disasters http://www.score.org/pdf/HP_Download_ImpactofDisaster.pdf