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NAS Reviews

Server Backup

We criticized the first-generation MSS for not having off-site backup capabilities—a shortcoming shared with many of today's NASes—and for limited server backup options.

HP has removed the off-site backup omission with the addition of automatic backup to Amazon S3 Web Services via the add-in shown in Figure 22. This improvement in data security, however, doesn't come for free. Pricing for the Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is based on usage and is available here.

Server Online Backup provided by Amazon Web Services
Click to enlarge image

Figure 22: Server Online Backup provided by Amazon Web Services

Local server backup features, however, are still limited. Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 (which is included in this version of the MSS) added the ability to back internal drives up to external drives, but the backups can't be scheduled. And there is still no rsync or similar ability provided in the WHS Console to back the MSS' drives up to local networked shares.

This is still a big weakness of the MSS, because you should never trust your data to a single device, no matter how many drives it has or how it internally duplicates files. I'm happy to see the automatic S3 backup option, but there should be local, no charge automatic options for server backup, too.

Performance

Analysis by Tim Higgins

The first-generation MSS did quite well compared to NASes like the Synology CS-407, Thecus N5200 and Buffalo Terastation Pro II, which were top performers back in late 2007. The Intel-based MSS also does quite well against the competition, but first let's look at it by itself. Testing was done with 2.1.7.24261 firmware, two Seagate Barracuda ST3750630AS 750 GB 7200.11 factory-installed drives and file duplication disabled.

Figure 23 shows plots of the MSS' write and read performance vs. "large" file sizes from 32 MB to 4 GB with a 1000 Mbps LAN connection. I'm not bothering to look at 100 Mbps LAN connected performance, since uncached performance is limited by that connection speed's 12.5 MB/s limit. Don't go looking for any RAID test results, by the way, because the MSS doesn't do RAID.

Write performance gets a big cache boost up to 256 MB file size, a bit less at 512 MB and 1 GB, then finally drops under the 125 MB/s speed of the Gigabit LAN at 2 and 4 GB. Read performance is essentially flat from 32 MB to 1 GB file sizes at around 86 MB/s, well under the gigabit LAN speed limit. Once the MSS' 2 GB RAM size is hit, however, read speeds drop off to around 20 MB/s.

That all averages out to a chart-topping 339 MB/s for write and second-place 68.7 MB/s for read.

MSS Performance benchmarks

Figure 23: MSS Performance benchmarks

File copy tests using a Vista SP1 client and a Gigabit LAN connection measured 64.1 MB/s for write and 88.4 MB/s for read. This brings the MSS into second place in the 1000 Mbps File Copy Write and read charts, behind NETGEAR's ReadyNAS Pro. Apparently, the ReadyNAS Pro's E2160 Dual Core CPU makes the difference over the MSS' 2 GHz Celeron 440, even with the MSS's 2 GB of RAM vs. the 1 GB in the ReadyNAS Pro.

For competitive comparison, I chose some top-performing systems that have been tested using the new test process: the NETGEAR ReadyNAS Pro, Thecus M3800 and Synology DS508. I also included the original EX475 MSS test data for comparison.

The write comparison in Figure 24 shows the EX487 and NETGEAR distanced from the pack up to the 1 GB file size. It's hard to compare the original and new MSS with writes, with so much cache effect, both from the 2 GB vs. 512 system RAM and the 2 GB of RAM in the new test bed.

MSS Competitive write comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 24: MSS Competitive write comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

The read comparison in Figure 25 provides more insight into relative performance. We again see the NETGEAR and new MSS in the top two positions up to 1 GB file size. But while the NETGEAR then continues a gentle falloff, the MSS seems to hit a wall.

The original MSS (HP EX475) only gets to around 55 MB/s until it starts a sharp decline after 64 MB file size. But it's enough to show that the new Celeron 440-based MSS is significantly faster running at around 86 MB/s.

MSS Competitive read comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

Figure 25: MSS Competitive read comparison - 1000 Mbps LAN

The bottom line is that the 2 GB of RAM in the new MSS certainly helps extend its cached performance to larger file sizes. But the more powerful processor also provides a significant performance boost.

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