|IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE Network Storage Device|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Monday, 28 November 2011|
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IOCELL NDAS Software Features
The software that ships with the IOCELL NetDISK 351UNE is not as extensive as some of the full-blown NAS Server packages available today. Instead, it focuses more on the hardware management and configuration of the device itself. Like any good network device, it has to have a unique ID, and register itself on the network. An installation wizard walks you through these steps, and the pertinent registration information is printed on a sticker on the bottom of each unit. In addition to the network ID, there is one additional key which lets the administrator manage Write permissions on the drive at multiple, granular levels. Installing this feature is optional, but I recommend doing it, just so you can have it as an option later, if you need it.
Pretty early in the installation process, you get a glimpse into the "special sauce" that makes the NetDISK product line unique. The Lean Packet Exchange (LPX) protocol is the technology that IOCELLL purchased from Ximeta in August of 2011, having used it in their products for the previous two years. Smaller, lighter, faster, cheaper is what this technology promises, so YES, you need it. Click the "Always trust..." checkbox and then the Install button.
Once you're done with the install, the NDAS software rides along on the task bar. Here you can see a pretty big hint at some functionality that I really wasn't expecting. Right away, it's obvious that you can manage and control multiple devices on the same network. What's not obvious is that you can "bind" multiple devices together to get RAID operation across selected drives.
Clicking on the Properties entry provides the familiar Windows dialogue box, with some additional information specific to this type of device. You can do some configuration here, or you can do it within the software. The General tab shows you how many users have Read-Only and Read/Write access to this particular device, and also lets you remove the Write Key for that drive, if it was installed earlier. Under Logical Device Information, you can see that Device 1 is actually two physical devices bound together into a single RAID 0 logical device. That's a pretty neat trick, which I've not seen before, and we'll explore how to do that next.
NDAS Bind Management is the section of the software where you can mix and match devices to create JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1 volumes. If you are just starting out with a single drive, you can add mirrored units in RAID 1 without losing or having to backup your data. Once you have a mirrored pair, you can add a Spare disk, replace a disk, remove a disk, or reset a disk. Although RAID is NOT a backup solution, the ability to remove a spare disk from a RAID 1 volume and transport it off-site does help enable a robust backup process. It's not quite the same as hot-swapping drive trays in and out of a NAS, but in some ways, it's a more controlled process, which IMHO is a good thing. None of this type of capability exists for the RAID 0 configuration, because in RAID 0 every byte on every drive is addressed uniquely, and there are no copies of the data to fall back on. All you need is one minor hiccup with one drive, and the whole array comes crashing down. As a general rule, "Friends don't let friends run RAID 0."
Once the individual drives, or RAID volumes are mounted, Windows treats them just like ordinary drives. All the usual operating system tools and techniques are used to format and access the data. That's another big advantage of the NDAS concept, the 'Direct' part of NDAS. Everyone on the network has access to each of the drives that have been registered on their system, and they can treat it just like it was installed locally, inside their workstation.