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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Mvix MvixBOX

At a Glance
Product Mvix MvixBOX (WDN2000)
Summary Dual-drive BYOD NAS with web-portal features
Pros •Attractive UI
•Extensive sharing protocols supported
• Community Portal features (Blogs, Messaging)
Cons •Buggy
•Low performance

I've written over 60 Network Attached Storage (NAS) articles over the last few years, and after awhile, the software on the boxes all start to look pretty similar. A typical unit is running Linux internally and has a web-based administration menu for setting up the network, adding shares, adding users, managing drives, etc. But every now and then you come across a product where the manufacturer is taking a bit of a different approach in defining what a NAS should be. In this review, I'm going to check out such a NAS: the MvixBOX from Mvix.

Hardware-wise, the MvixBOX is a two-SATA bay, RAID-capable, Bring Your Own Disk (BYOD) NAS with Gigabit Ethernet support (but without jumbo frames) and two external USB ports for additional storage.

As you can see above, the device is a bit chunky looking with a row of blue LEDS on the front panel that are bright enough to make you think that you left the lights on in your computer room at night. One of the USB ports is located on the front, paired with a one-touch button for copying data from the external drive to internal storage. On the back (Figure 1) you can see there's another USB port, the Gigabit Ethernet connector, and trays for disk installation.

MvixBox Back Panel

Figure 1: MvixBOX Back Panel

You can't really tell it from the pictures, but the main unit sits in a cradle that raises it up to allow airflow to a fan vent on the bottom. When running, I judged the fan to be a bit on the noisy side. As far as power draw, with two disks installed I measured it to be about 18 Watts when active and 15 after sitting awhile (although there is no disk spin- down configuration option). Along with Ethernet, Mvix advertises support for USB wireless dongles, but they don't seem to document which models are supported (more on this later).

Setup

To get the Box going, you'll need to supply your own disks. Figure 2 shows the Box with one disk tray slid halfway out.

Disk Installation

Figure 2: Disk Installation

In general, the unit felt solid and the use of 3.5" SATA disks made installation straightforward and easy.

Mvix documents support for Windows, Mackintosh (sic) and Linux users. But that's after the NAS has been set up for the first time because the installation software is Windows-only. This is one area where Mvix had taken a different path than other manufacturers. Most NASes allow you to boot up and then set everything up via a web interface, but not this one. You are required to initialize the NAS via the installation software that comes on the included CD, which is a downside if you're an Apple or Linux user.

When the box boots up for the first time, it acquires an IP address via DHCP. But if you don't have a DHCP server on your network, Mvix documents a way to set the device up using a direct-connect Ethernet cable. Figure 3 shows the initial setup screen where the Box has been located on the LAN.

Initial Setup

Figure 3: Initial Setup

And as you go through the setup, other things start to stand out as a bit different than the typical NAS. First is the requirement to locate and enter a serial number that's located on the bottom of the product. I rarely see a requirement to tie the physical box to the software being installed.

Then there are two long license statements that you are required to agree to before installation. One was fairly standard, but the other was for signing up for an online DNS registration type service associated with the product. That agreement had a number of restrictions with typical language (although often in broken English) about uploading and downloading illegal or copyrighted content,.

But one sentence jumped out at me. Evidently by accepting the license, I agreed not to upload a "death-gui". Now this made me a bit worried. Some of the Graphical User-Interfaces I've developed over the years have been pretty bad. But I don't think any of them were overly lethal. So maybe they wouldn't be qualified as a death-gui and I won't be violating the license agreement. Time will tell.

Moving on through the rest of the Windows installation utility, you'll find a number of standard setup options such as network configuration, passwords, etc. One curious problem I had was related to setting the Time Zone. During the course of preparing this review, I set it numerous times, only to find out later it was set back to Seoul time.

Figure 4 shows the menu where an initial RAID selection is made.

Initializing RAID

Figure 4: Initializing RAID

You can see in this case, I've selected RAID level 1, mirroring, which should get me the ability to recover from a single disk failure. The other supported "Extension" mode is actually RAID 0.

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