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Backup

These types of devices are often used for backup, and Promise provides several tools for assistance. Internal to the device, there are capabilities for taking "snapshots" of your shares and for backing up the entire device to another SmartStor on the LAN.

For interaction with other computers on the LAN, Promise supports a "one-touch" backup from the front panel. Pressing this button kicks off interaction with a (Windows only) utility that defines which shares to backup, allows restore, etc. (Figure 16).

Windows utility for backup

Figure 16: Windows utility for backup

Linux and Apple users are on their own, as no comparable utility was provided.

Once I had checked out the configuration menus, the one capability I didn't see was any to tell the system to spin down the drives when idle. Most of the time my NAS appliances sit idle on the network, so it's nice to have them spin down the drives, reducing both power-usage and noise. In fact, some competing manufacturers take it one step further. My Infrant NAS can be set to completely turn on and off on a specified schedule.

Performance

SmallNetBuilder's performance charts can do an almost infinite variety of performance charts, but to give you a head-start, I chose a few other mid-range, four-drive NAS devices for comparison. I chose the Synology CS407e, the Lacie Ethernet disk RAID, the Freedom9 Freestore and the Iomega StorCenter Pro.

As you can see in the charts below, the SmartStor fell pretty much in the middle of the pack for these devices, and was much lower than other higher-end units that are not shown. But as an offset against its mediocre performance, the SmartStor is pretty much the least expensive device in the group.

NOTES:

  • The maximum raw data rate for 100Mbps Ethernet is 12500 KBytes/sec (12.5 MBytes/sec) and 125000 KBytes/sec (125 MBytes/sec) for gigabit
  • Firmware version tested was 01.02.0000.05
  • The full testing setup and methodology are described on this page
  • To ensure connection at the intended speeds, the iozone test machine and NAS under test were manually moved between a NETGEAR GS108 10/100/1000Mbps switch for gigabit-speed testing and a 10/100 switch for 100 Mbps testing.

1000 Mbps Write comparative performance

Figure 17: 1000 Mbps Write comparative performance

1000 Mbps Read comparative performance

Figure 18: 1000 Mbps Read comparative performance

To do a "real-world" type test, I did a simple drag-and-drop test moving files back and forth to the SmartStore. For this test, I used my MacBook Pro, 2 GHz Intel Core Duo with 1.5 GB of RAM running Windows XP SP2 natively. The directory tree I copied contained 4100 files using just over a gigabyte.

I found that with a gigabit connection, moving the files to the SmartStor (write) took just about 3 minutes 15 seconds (~5.25 MB/s). With a 100 Mbps connection, the same transfer took around 4 minutes, 31 seconds (~3.7 MB/s).

Reading from the SmartStor to my XP system, the transfer took around 2 minutes 54 seconds (~5.8 MB/s) with a gigabit connection and just under 4 minutes 30 seconds with a 100 Mbps connection (~3.8 MB/s).

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