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I installed a Seagate ST31000333AS Barracuda 7200.11 1 TB drive to check out the UNE and ran the standard Vista SP1 filecopy test, which copies a 4.35 GB ripped DVD test folder from a RAID 0 volume on our standard NAS testbed to and from the NAS under test. As mentioned earlier, the disk was NTFS formatted.

Figure 5 shows a composite plot of the results with USB 2.0, eSATA and NDAS (Gigabit Ethernet) connections to the host system.

UNE Vista SP1 Filecopy performance

Figure 5: UNE Vista SP1 Filecopy performance

The eSATA connection naturally has the highest performance, actually quite high compared even to the Iomega Ultramax Pro, which measured around 96 MB/s writing to a two-drive RAID 0 volume and 83 MB/s reading. USB 2.0 results indicated pretty much the maximum possible from that connection.

NDAS write at 32 MB/s was better than USB, but not quite as good for read. But at around 30 MB/s for write and read over a Gigabit Ethernet connection for a $70 drive enclosure, that's not bad at all.

I have been skipping iozone tests for devices like the CTERA CloudPlug and Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar because I don't consider them to be "real" NASes. But I decided to run them anyway for the UNE.

Figure 6 shows that the iozone based plots are dominated by cached performance, as I would expect given NDAS' nature. But with cached performance taken out and the remaining points averaged, write comes in at 51.2 MB/s and read at 38.5 MB/s. The write results actually rank the UNE at #3 with the NAS Charts filtered for single drive products!

UNE iozone-based performance

Figure 6: UNE iozone-based performance

A more realistic comparison would be found in the File Copy charts, again filtered for single-drive products. While not at the top of the charts, the UNE beats out current-generation single-drive NASes like the Seagate BlackArmor 110 and WD My Book World Edition (white bar).

File copy write performance - single drive products

Figure 7: File copy write performance - single drive products

Figure 8 shows the read file copy ranking, where the UNE drops below the WD and Seagate products, however.

File copy read performance - single drive products

Figure 8: File copy read performance - single drive products

I mentioned earlier that I simultaneously ran file copies to the UNE from Vista SP1 and XP SP3 systems. While the XP system wasn't as fast as the Vista, I didn't see any change in file copy speed on the XP system and only a 5 - 10 MB/s drop on the faster Vista system.

Closing Thoughts

I went into this review with a skeptical eye, expecting to see something similar to what I found around six years ago. So I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised by the NetDisk UNE.

Time and technology advancements have helped IOCELL and Ximeta produce a much more competitive product in both price and performance than the original NetDISK. And, at least with the Windows systems that I used, I found no problem with simultaneously writing to the UNE from two systems.

I didn't get to check IOCELL's claims of multi-drive RAID 0 and 1 combining. So perhaps that will have to wait for another time. From the looks of IOCELL's website, they're planning two and five bay members of the NDAS line, so I may be taking a look at those, too, when they're available.

In the meantime, if you've been looking for network storage that also can be directly-connected and don't need it to do anything else (no FTP, print, media, web, photo serving or BitTorrent downloading), for $70 and your own 3.5" SATA drive, the IOCELL NetDisk 351UNE is a pretty good solution.

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