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NAS Reviews

Performance

Tim already included some NAS Chart throughput vs. file size plots in the slideshow. For my charts, I decided to look at all dual-drive NASes since that’s the primary competition for the Media Vault.  Read and write charts for a 1000 Mbps LAN connection are shown in Figures 16 and 17.  Of course, you can drill down deeper by selecting other tests and products to compare.

1000 Mbps Average Write Performance ranking
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Figure 16: 1000 Mbps Average Write Performance ranking

For writes, you can see that the Media Vault’s performance is right in the middle of the pack.

1000 Mbps Average Read Performance ranking
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Figure 17: 1000 Mbps Average Read Performance ranking

For reads, the mv5150 did much better, placing near the top of the charts for two-drive NASes.

The throughput vs. filesize plots in the slideshow compare the 5150 with earlier-generation mv2020, mv2040 Media Valuts and the EX475 Media Smart Server. For non-RAID mode with a 1000 Mbps LAN connection, the write speed of all of the Media Vaults is virtually the same and there is not much difference for read.

Closing Thoughts

The revamped Media Vault line seems to be trying to satisfy both home and small-business users and misses the mark on both.  All three models use identical hardware with the only difference being the installed hard drives. And even though they use the high-performance Marvell "Orion" processor and 128 MB of RAM, there seems to be little performance improvement vs. the previous-generation Media Vaults that have only 64 MB of RAM and use the Broadcom 4785 processor.

The only functional differentiation that the mv5150 "Pro" has, is in its bundled software for drive-level and online backup. But there are better alternatives for these applications and you probably already have your own favorites. So even if I owned a Media Vault, I probably would choose different applications. 

From a small business prospective, the Media Vault lacks many features needed to be a viable business NAS, such as (in no particular order):

  • Support for Active Directory
  • Hot Swappable drives
  • Support for UPS for automated safe shutdown
  • NAS to NAS backup capabilities
  • FTP and secure FTP
  • Jumbo Frame support
  • Email/SMS notification of events (or classes of events)
  • Logging of remote access sessions
  • Integrated disk scan and defrag utilities
  • Volume quota restrictions

While you might disagree with some of these items, at least some of them are found on most competing "business" NASes. And even if you can forgive the lack of these features, the inability to change the web service ports, lack of web access to "public" shares and the security breaches possible from root-level access via SSH are additional arguments against serious business use.

As a personal or home server, the Media Vault was easy to set up and the default shares were immediately available to all users - without the annoying login prompt that greets users on some other products.  And, once I performed the iTunes server restart, it ran without a hitch during my time with the product.

But the web photo sharing application is, at best, annoying to use and, at worst, broken (I never did successfully create an album with 100 images). And it pales in comparison to what's available from Synology and other manufacturers.

On a more positive note, the Media Vault has a handsome, rugged industrial design that befits a company with HP's reputation. It supports HTTPS, and if enabled, automatically redirects HTTP requests.  Setup of remote access with TZO’s DDNS service was quite easy and making the Media Vault visible on the web using a personalized domain name took only a few minutes.  And, of course, for the tech savvy, with root access you can modify it to your liking.

Though I like the design, and despite the power of HP's brand, I encountered enough problems and the Media Vault is missing enough small business features that I wouldn’t recommend it to my small business consulting clients.  And, as a home-based NAS, I prefer either Synology or QNAP NASes that offer built-in LAMP server capability as well as better photo sharing applications (although at a significantly higher price).

But if you like what you see in the Media Vault Pro, I'd advise buying the mv2120 instead and "upgrade" it with your own 500GB SATA drive and your favorite backup applications. You'll come out hundreds of dollars ahead and have the backup apps that you prefer.

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