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NAS Reviews

Inside

The 320L is very simple inside and it's easy to get there. Just push a button molded as part of the top cover and lift it off. I didn't remove anything to take the board photo below. Sorry that it's a bit fuzzy, but the shiny drive cage made flash photos unusable.

DNS-320L board

DNS-320L board

There isn't much to see besides the Marvell 88F6702 SoC, anyway. I've summarized the key components below in Table 1, along with those of its current DNS-325 sibling and now-discontinued DNS-321.

  DNS-320L DNS-325 DNS-321
CPU Marvell Kirkwood 88F6702 @ 1 GHz Marvell Kirkwood 88F6281 @ 1.2 GHz Marvell 88F5182 @ 400 MHz
Ethernet Marvell 88E1318 Marvell 88E1116R Marvell 88E1118
RAM 256 MB 256 MB 64 MB
Flash 128 MB 128 MB 16 MB
File System EXT4 EXT3 EXT2
Table 1: D-Link NAS component comparison

All three are Marvell-based and use different Ethernet PHYs and drive filesystems. This is the first I've encountered the 88F6702, which appears to be in the Kirkwood NAS SoC family. But I couldn't find any other information about it. It's fair to say, though, that the 320L is not a high-powered NAS.

Power consumption measured 16 W with two WD Red 3TB 7200 RPM (WD30EFRX) drives I supplied spun up and 7 W when the programmable drive spindown kicked in. No fan noise and little idle drive noise observed in my quiet home office environment earn the 320L a very low noise rating.

Features

D-Link is positioning the 320L as part of its mydlink "cloud" product family. We've reviewed the mydlink service itself along with a few of the products it powers including the DIR-605L cloud router and DCS-942L Network camera. We also looked at the mydlink services that specifically support IP cameras.

In each review to date, we haven't been impressed with mydlink and it looks like that record will be unbroken with the DNS-320L. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Setup is easy enough. After inserting the drives and powering on the box, an installation wizard automatically launches so that you can adjust some basic settings (password, time zone, LAN, email). When that is done, you can log in (blank password) and will be presented with the Home screen below. Actually, the default Home screen has nothing installed in the My Favorite Applications section. I did that for the screenshot so that you could see all the "applications" in the product.

Home Page with all apps added

Home Page with all apps added

D-Link casts the net pretty wide for what it calls "applications", perhaps trying to imbue the product with more "app cred" than it deserves. For me, at least, the result was confusion, which was further not helped by the big Applications button shown on the screen above and the Application Managment screen obtained via the big Management button.

Each of these options showed a different set of "applications". You can see what I mean in the Gallery, where I've put relevant screen shots and commentary. I think this organization is a holdover from the add-in ability of the DNS-325. The programs shown under the big Applications button could be a fixed subset of the larger add-in library available there.

A wade through the data sheet and user manual helped compile the feature summary below.

Storage

  • Network file sharing via SMB/CIFS, NFS, AFP
  • WebDAV support
  • HTTP / HTTPS file and admin access
  • FTP, SFTP servers
  • Single, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1 volumes
  • EXT4 filesystem
  • ISO mounts

Backup

  • Scheduled and immediate networked backup to and from other D-Link NASes and rsync servers ("Remote Backups")
  • Internal scheduled and immediate folder to folder backup ("Local Backup")
  • Internal scheduled and immediate folder backup from only FTP or UNC share ("Local Backup")
  • USB device pushbutton copy to NAS
  • Apple Time Machine backup
  • D-Link ShareCenter Sync bundled client backup for Windows

Media

  • UPnP AV / DLNA media server
  • iTunes server
  • BitTorrent downloader
  • HTTP/FTP downloader
  • Photo album and gallery (Cooliris)

Cloud

  • Amazon S3 cloud backup
  • Remote access via mydlink.com and mydlinkcloud iOS, desktop and Android apps

Networking

  • Link speed setting
  • LLTD enable / disable
  • Dynamic DNS support (dlinkddns.com,DynDNS.org [custom & free options], no-ip.DDNS, tzo.com)
  • IPv6 support

Other

  • User level quotas
  • Email alerts
  • Logging
  • USB printer serving
  • UPS shutdown synchronization via USB
  • Programmable idle drive spindown
  • Scheduled shutdown
  • Auto restart after power failure

There are a few things missing that I can't ding D-Link too badly for, since they aren't really intended for the consumers this product is aimed at.

Updated 12/12/2012

Missing

  • No RAID migration and expansion. RAID migration supported from Non-RAID to RAID 1.
  • Active Directory and Windows domains not supported
  • No iSCSI

The 320L's feature set is vey similar to the DNS-325's. So please check that review for some additional commentary and screenshots. Note that the 320L does not support the optional add-ins that the DNS-325 does. What you see in the base feature set is what you get.

Not that there aren't some useful features there, including ISO mounts, WebDAV support for easy web-based file access and lots of backup features. But there are oddities, too, most notably the inability to initiate attached USB drive backups via anything other than a push on the 320L's front panel button. If you want scheduled backups, you'll need to do it over the network or internally drive-to-drive.

My main problem with the 320L is its positioning as a cloud-based NAS. Like other mydlink-enabled products, you can only connect the 320L to the mydlink cloud by running the installation process on the supplied CD. Since CDs are going the way of the floppy in this brave new smartphone and tablet-centric world, this is not user friendly, to say the least. Cloud centric devices should not require a computer to install them. Even Apple finally woke up and smelled the coffee on this point for all its iOS devices.

Even once I went through the activation process, I ran into a dead end when trying to access the 320L via the mydlink Cloud Android app. I could see the files just fine on mydlink.com. But I couldn't figure out the login for the Android app, which asked for Server, Account and Password.

As with other things mydlink, I could find no help among the various FAQ scattered among the various D-Link websites. I managed to find a mydlink Android app FAQ on mydlink.com. But referred only to the previous generation mydink lite app.

The Google Play store screenshots indicate that the app supports file browsing and download, photo viewing and music listenting. But, as you might expect from such a weakly-powered NAS, you can't view video files.

I've put a few more relevant screenshots into the gallery below. Be sure to check the DNS-325 review for additional feature commentary and screenshots.

Image Gallery

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