D-Link ShareCenter DNS-320 2-Bay NAS enclosure

D-Link Systems ShareCenter DNS-320 2-Bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) enclosure

Two-bay external hard drive enclosure

A very good NAS for the SOHO or personal use

Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)

First and foremost, I wanted to test if this device can recover from a simulated disk failure, and the answer is a resounding YES.

I was asked to try out how well this NAS box functions as a central file storage device.  The techno-geek that I am, of course I agreed!  The main goal is to centralize all the electronic data files (photos, music, movies, etc.) so that a group (employees, family members, colleagues, etc.) can access the files in a local area netowork (LAN).

Did it work?  Let’s find out.

All the initial testings were performed using a D-Link DIR-655 Gigabit wireless N Router (gigabit ethernet) on a WinXP Pro SP3 desktop and a Mac Pro (OSX SL). I have almost 1TB worth of pictures, and MP3 files, and over 2TB of home videos stored on my main desktop PC (WinXP Pro SP3), accessible to other computers on my home network as a shared folder. These files are backed up to a DNS-343 NAS box (4x2TB drives), and is backed up remotely to an identical DNS-343 box in my office (off-site). I also use the DNS-343 in my office as a backup of my workstation, and this DNS-343 is backed up remotely to my home DNS-343.

I had no problems with the setup, though I did perform a manual setup using the device IP.  If you are not familiar with how to do a manual setup, I highly suggest to use the ShareCenter Software CD, which comes with the product. It goes through a step-by-step process of how to set up the unit.

The firmware was already the latest version, so no need to upgrade. I popped in two WD Caviar Black 1TB drives (these were my spare drives), connected the power and network cables and powered up, logged in using web GUI and configured the device for my network and use (DDNS, email settings, etc), formatted and setup drives for RAID1 (format did not hang at 94%), and it was up and running.

Write speed – From my desktop PC (WinXP SP3), I copied large movie files (over 1GB per file), and I calculated a transfer speed of about 16-20 MB/s (UPDATED new test yielded 18-23 MB/s). From my Mac, I copied another set of movie files and got 22-26 MB/s (UPDATED new test yielded 24-28 MB/s). With real world files (varying in size from a few kb to 10MB), I got anywhere between 12 to 18 MB/s on both computers.

Read speed – I copied the movie file from the DNS-320 to my PC and I got 26-30 MB/s (UPDATED new test yielded 30-40 MB/s), and 35-50 MB/s for my Mac. I’m not sure why the difference between PC and Mac, and may be inherent to the different file systems between the two OS. Nontheless these numbers are quite impressive, and better than I expected. With real world files, I got anywhere between 20-30 MB/s on both computers (UPDATE new test yielded 20-40 MB/s).

I removed one of the drives to simulate a “disk failure.” The DNS-320 detected a disk failure within seconds and notified me via email. Awesome! I then inserted another drive (Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200) and the DNS-320 formatted and synchronized the new disk, which took a few hours. I used a linux box to perform “diff -r” to make sure the data was not corrupted, and no corruption was found.

I also tried a pair of WD 2TB drives (WD20EADS), which are WD green drives but not the advanced formatting version (EARS). Therefore, these drives runs a lot cooler than the 7200 WD drives. These performed almost similarly, with a slight decrease in read and write performance (though not huge, maybe 1-2 MB/s or sometimes more)

I gave this NAS back with the 2x2TB green drives. Having tested the DNS-320, I am quite impressed with its capabilities and I am now considering buying two to backup my DNS-343 (4x2TB configuration). I did not test this side-by-side against my DNS-343, which may be the next project.

My only criticism is the lack of information whether this can handle the advanced format drives like the newer WD or Seagate 2TB green drives. No information is available on the D-Link support section. Others who have used this unit with the AFT drives have been mixed: It worked for some, and not for others. Until I try it myself, I cannot make any definitive conclusions. This is enough for me to dock one star from what would have otherwise been an excellent NAS device.

Overall, it is a great little unit. Highly recommended. (I am also tempted to try the upgraded version, the DNS-325, which has a 50% faster processor and double the RAM than the DNS-320.)

WARNING: GEEK ALERT BELOW

For a few technical details, see below. Otherwise, you can skip.

CPU 800 MHz
RAM 128MB RAM

2×3.5″ Internal SATA Hard Drive
Ports * 1 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Port
1 USB Port

Drive Management * Four Different Hard Drive Configurations (RAID 0, 1, JBOD, Standard)
* Drive Status with E-mail Alerts
* Drive Quotas
* Power Management

Device Management * Internet Explorer® v6 or other Java-enabled Browsers (I used Firefox)

LEDs * Power
* LAN
* HDD 1
* HDD 2

Power Consumption * Normal Mode: 15.7 W
* Sleep Mode: 8.2 W

Power Management * Power Saving
* Schedule Power Off
* Auto Power Recovery Support

Operating Temperature * 30º to 104º F (0º to 40º C) – I tested 36C for 7200 drives, and 29C for Green drives.

Warranty * 3 Year Limited

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About Ask Conrad
I am a University Professor. A Neuroscientist by trade, and a technophile/geek on the side. My work and research is heavily dependent on computers and state-of-the-art technology. I like Jazz and Bossa Nova. I play the piano, guitar, and ukulele.

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