Saturday 8 August 2009

A Single Drive NAS Setup For Business?

When it comes to taking care of a client’s business I.T. needs, cutting corners to keep costs down usually comes back to bite the one “saving” those costs.

One area where there is no real cost savings relative to the risks involved is data storage.

Hard drives, even SSD ones, have moving parts. They fail.

So, using a single drive solution to store critical shared data along with all of the workstation’s backups may not be the wisest of moves.

We have been called into an office where users could no longer connect to their shared data or backup their workstations to the NAS device a previous I.T. support company had installed for them.

The NAS unit was a single drive LaCie Peripherals device:


When we had a look at the setup, the device was plugged into a switch along with a workstation and a networked printer. There was a cable not plugged into the switch that turned out to be the run to the main switch in the basement of the building.

However, when that network cable was plugged in none of the other workstations could connect to the LaCie device.

We power cycled the LaCie to see if perhaps it was hung up as we could hear the drive spinning inside of it.

Once the unit power cycled itself, there was a distinct clicking sound that started to emanate from the unit.

Now the real struggle begins as the organization is in transition and it may not become quite clear exactly what has been lost in the shared folders and in the backup directories.

We will try a few recovery tactics on the device when we get permission to open it up on Monday, but we are not holding too much hope that the data will be recoverable by us. They may be in for a recovery charge from a third party.

When it comes to client data, it is absolutely imperative that the shared company data be stored on a device that has at least a pair of mirrored RAID 1 drives:


Since the device was also being used to backup all of the client workstations, a better solution would have been to use at least a pair of the single drive NAS solutions in a backup rotation.

Then, if one of the single drive units failed, the other would provide the necessary redundancy.

Disaster Recovery Planning needs to be a part of ANY data storage solution we are looking at providing our clients.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*All Mac on SBS posts will not be written on a Mac until we replace our now missing iMac! (previous blog post)

Windows Live Writer


stryqx said...

The other issue with NAS devices, be they single or multi-disk is that they're invariably running an embedded Linux, so the file system is most likely EXT3 (EXT2 if you're unlucky).

This means it's always good to have a spare NAS unit to be able to swap over in the case of NAS failure (rare, but it does happen), otherwise you need to find recovery utilities such as R-Studio that support EXT2/3 file systems.
Having Linux/UNIX skills in-house or readily available can also help.

Lining up one or more data recovery labs and finding out their prices and recovery times is also a good move.

Eric Eskam said...

I'm not a big fan of these NAS boxes. The Linux issues mentioned are just the tip of the iceburg for many of them, never mind trying to integrate them into your environment.

If you have SBS, you have your server so why complicate things?

I supoprt SBS for my church, and I'm going to try out a Drobo Pro connected to the SBS server via iSCSI for them. It will give me protection against hardware failure, pleanty of room to grow and the ability to grow without having to rebuild the array. It even provides optional two disk redunancy if I get to six or more 1TB or larger drives and get concerned about recover time in case of a drive failure (similar to RAID 6). At $1,200 retail for an driveless Drobo, it's a pretty good deal for what it brings to the table - especially if you leverage your existing SBS server.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Yes, a whole new can of worms with them.


Unfortunately, this particular client does not have any server based infrastructure at all.

They also do not have the budget to afford hosted Exchange or SharePoint and/or online backup, so solutions for them are very limited.

Yes, Drobo Pro is an excellent device, however finances puts it out of reach in this case.



Michael said...

Try a new powersupply, I had the same problem with that vendor's drive and was sure it was a bad drive. When I got the new power supply from the company it worked again like a champ.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


That is an excellent idea!

We have a number of different power supplies around that should work. I will give it a try tomorrow.