2008 external storage solution

I need some sort of external storage solution that I can use to solve my file-sharing, non-backed up, multiple copies of files spread willy-nilly on different machines, too scattered to know where any of my files are, no central storage area problem.  I need a reliable storage unit as a central repository for all my important files.  The keyword here is reliable – I want to be able to store my files and not have to worry about the disk going bad or the file becoming corrupt.  In the hard drive storage world this equates to RAID.  RAID allows you to have multiple disks with copies of the same information on it – if one of the drives fails or goes bad, all of the information is still on the other disk.  To the computer this setup functions as one disk.

There were originally two possible solutions in my mind – a USB connected storage unit, or a network connected unit.  I want something that is:

  • small,
  • aesthetically pleasing,
  • fast,
  • sturdy,
  • reasonably priced,
  • User-serviceable,
  • a 1-5 TB solution,
  • with RAID.

The first hurdle that I had to jump was the “aesthetically pleasing” hurdle.  There are a lot, and I mean A LOT of ugly looking storage solutions out there.  I knew that this would be the first place to start.  I’m going to be sticking this thing on my desk at home next to my sleek brushed aluminum desktop machine (PC) and my Apple Cinema Display – I don’t want to worry about having to hide an ugly storage unit.

Typically the network connected units (Network-Attached Storage, or NAS) are more expensive than the USB solutions, so I started by looking for USB units.

The first set of possible solutions I found was from iomega.  These are actually designed to fit in with an Apple themed desktop.  This solution is a 1.5-2 TB USB/Firewire/eSata solution for between $400 and $500 depending on the features you want.  After reading a couple reviews about the build quality, however, I ended up passing on this solution – broken, plastic hard drive rails don’t sound like quality to me.

iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive

As I looked around I noticed that the price point for a good RAID USB solution was pretty high – I might as well look at the next step up, a NAS solution.  These typically run more expensive, but have a lot more features built in to them: streaming media servers, web servers, backup software, etc.  NAS units also tend to always have RAID included (RAID is typically achieved through hardware, not software).  Looking around for a good NAS solution I ran in to a reliable and recent article by PCWorld: “Top 5 Network-Attached Storage Devices”.  At the top of this list is an expensive $1300 dollar solution by Synology, the Synology Disk Station DS508.

Synology Disk Station DS508

Synology Disk Station DS508

This is a tad on the expensive side, but it looks like a very reliable, highly touted system.  All the reviews I read said that this was the NAS to buy, with around an 85-90% rating.  After checking around Newegg.com, though, I noticed that there was a reviewer that said he enjoyed his Thecus 5800BR and 3200 much better, claiming that they were rock solid solutions and he’s never had trouble with them.  This was music to my ears because this Synology DS508 is way too expensive.

So on I went to check out the Thecus brand (interesting company name) NAS solutions.  They actually had a pretty good-looking site compared to so many of the other NAS web sites.  Nothing says “I have a great product” like a good web site.  So I clicked on the Products link and it took me to their products page, showing me their latest releases.  As I scrolled down to the bottom I saw it – the N3200Pro.

Thecus N3200Pro

Winner: Thecus N3200Pro

“It looks good” was my first thought.  Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to buy a piece of junk just because it looks good.  I checked out the specs – this thing is AWESOME.  It’s got 3 drives, which is the prefect amount for a home system, 2 Gigabit ethernet ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, LCD screen, SATA drive bays, eSATA connection, and RAID 0, 1 and 5.  It’s even got wireless network capability through the use of a wireless USB dongle.

Though I haven’t actually bought it (yet), this would/will be my purchase of choice when I want to make my move to organize my life.

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  1. Luis
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    I Just ordered mine too, and i am looking forward to share my experience with others. Do you have yours already?

  2. Posted January 7, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    No, unfortunately I don’t have mine yet. Maybe in a couple paychecks or so. Please share your experience when you have a chance! I’m definitely interested (my readers are too).

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