Thecus N3200XXX NAS Server ReviewNemo - October 6, 2011
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We've had a good long look at the RAID and iSCSI features of the N3200XXX and now it's time to pick up where we left off and finish the remainder of the items in the storage section.
You can expand the storage capacity of the N3200XXX through the NAS Stacking feature. Using this, you can add the storage of up to five other NAS units' stack target volumes to have that storage become accessible through the N3200XXX. The unit being added to the stack must have an iSCSI target volume created and enabled on it. The next step is to use the Add button on the NAS Stacking page to add an iSCSI target. The Add Stack Target dialog window appears and you can specify the Stackable Target IP and hit the Discovery button. As long as there is an iSCSI target volume on the other NAS, it should come back with the iSCSI qualified name (IQN). You can choose to Enable or Disable the volume as needed using the appropriate radio buttons. If the target iSCSI volume has security enabled, you will need to provide the user name and password. You can assign it a stacked target name that will show up in the list of folders on the N3200XXX, along with a description if needed. Finally you can make it browsable from the network and choose whether or not to make it a public folder. For non-public folders, the ACL (access control list) button will be active and you can set access rights to the volume. Once completed, you can hit the Apply button and you should see the new stack volume show up in the list and also see a folder on the NAS under the name you specified.
As we saw in the iSCSI setup section earlier, you also have Edit and Remove buttons as well and this is where we ran into our first problems. Trying to edit a Stackable Target by changing the Public radio button from 'no' to 'yes' resulted in an error message when we tried to save the changes using the Apply button. We got an error message telling us the share name was a duplicate and to pick another name. After we left the page and came back, clicking the Edit button for that target volume brought up an empty page. It seems you better get all the parameters set correctly the first time around, as they aren't really editable later.
In an effort to start over, I tried to remove the volume, which leads us to the second error I encountered. Hitting the Remove button and confirming the change results in the list being updated showing the stack target is still there with N/A for the capacity. I rebooted the NAS device, which caused the stackable target I had removed to show up again as if nothing had happened. After this, you can neither edit the entry nor re-add the target volume from the same IP address. The only alternative was to reset the device to the factory defaults and go back and restore all the changes we'd made up to this point. It sounds as if I should have gone into the Config Mgmt section under System Management and backed everything up before making the changes.
ISO Image Mounting
Another interesting and useful feature is ISO image mounting, which enables you to create a virtual drive containing the files in an ISO image and then make them available over the network. You begin by selecting a folder from the drop down list that contains the ISO image. With the folder selected, the system will display the ISO images in a tree structure on the left. Selecting an image will place the name in the File Selected box and you can specify a mount name or leave it blank and let the system default in the ISO image name. Click the Add button to add the image to the mount list on the right. After verifying you wish to mount the ISO, the mount is created and a success message returned. You can now see the mount path, which you can use to map to from your client PC and access the files in the ISO image directly.
While iSCSI target volumes, NAS stacking, and ISO mounts may seem a bit esoteric for the normal user, share folders are an essential part of your daily use of the N3200XXX, as it allows you to organize your data as well as establish permissions around which users and groups can access data on the NAS by assigning access rights to folders. After building a volume on the NAS, you will find a set of standard system folders are present that are used by various functions of the server, such as an iTunes music folder, folders for backup and synchronizing, and more. These folders cannot be deleted since they are system folders, but you can set the access control list (ACL) for those that are not already marked public.
You can use the Add button to create a new shared folder. If you have multiple volumes on the NAS server, you will need to identify which volume is the target for the new folder, specify a folder name and description, and choose whether or not to make it browsable or public using the associated radio buttons. If you choose to make it public, all users will have access to the folder and the ACL button will be grayed out. Once you hit the Apply button, you will be asked to confirm you want to make the changes, and after a few seconds you should see a dialog confirming the folder has been created. With the folder created, you can highlight the entry in the list and you will see additional buttons become available like Edit and Remove. The Edit button brings up the same dialog as the Add button and allows you to change the folder name, description, and whether the folder is browsable or public. The Remove option is pretty self explanatory, as it allows you to delete a folder. To make sure you want to delete a folder and the data it contains, you must respond with a typed 'Yes' as a safeguard. You will need to enable network file system support in the Network Service section, which we'll cover later on in the review, in order to make the features on the NFS page accessible. You can then provide the host name and OS type in order to share the folder with a host using the Network File System protocol.
One option that may have you wondering since it is grayed out and unavailable is the Snapshot button. This option is only available with the ZFS file system and allows you to take 16 snapshot versions of the folder for backup purposes. The final choice available is the ACL button, which is the access control list that enables you to control which users and groups have access to a given folder. We're going to take a rain check on this one though until after we've created users and groups in the next section.