Do you have questions about gadgets and gizmos? Ask Conrad!

Welcome!

I will be posting tech trends, reviews, tutorials/how-to’s, electronic deals, and lots of other things pertaining to electronic gadgets and gizmos.

Please feel free to follow me.  The first few days will be a whirlwind of posts, since I will be adding lots of reviews and such.

So, just remember, if you have any questions regarding techie things, just “Ask Conrad!”

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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.

2 Responses to Do you have questions about gadgets and gizmos? Ask Conrad!

  1. John Heiderich says:

    Hello Conrad,

    Thank you for these excellent, well written reviews. I found your site via the Amazon review you wrote on the DNS 320 NAS. I note that you tried this box with both the WD Caviar Black and Green drives. You mentioned that the read write performance of the latter was slightly decreased compared to the former.

    I am a total computer novice. I am wondering what are the total considerations I should make in determining which drive(s) I should buy for the DNS 320; energy cost; noticable speed difference; etc. I am particularly confiused because some have mentioned that the WD green tops out at 5400 rpm. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Ask Conrad says:

      Hi John,

      This is a very interesting question, and really can be answered either way. It sounds like you are between a 7200rpm and a 5900rpm drive.

      First, I would recommend to check the compatibility of the drive on the DNS site. It lists all the drives that D-Link has tested on the DNS 320. The drives I tested (Western Digital WD20EADS, Seagate Barracuda ST31000340NS, Samsung F3) on this unit is on the list of verified drives (I think). I’ve tried the Seagate ST32000542AS after modifying the ERC and those drives worked as well (with a few caveats).

      If you want this NAS box for data/file storage, then you can go with either drive. For drive stability (ie. lower failure rates), the 5900rpm drives spin slower and therefore generate less heat. Remember that heat is a hard drive’s enemy (along with magnets and water). The more heat the drives generate, the higher their probability of failure. Because of this, these 5900rpm drives are IMHO great drives.

      One potential problem with the green drives is when they are used in a RAID configuration, like a NAS box. These drives take a long time to “get ready” after spin-up, which more often than not results in a false volume error. The drives are fine, but the RAID hardware/software thinks that the drives are faulty due to the TLER (Time limited error recovery) in WD drives, or ERC (Error recovery control) in Seagate drives. For some of the older drives (purchased a year ago or more), these settings can be changed or removed so that the drive does not “time-out.” This is typically done with either a firmware upgrade, or by disabling the TLER parameter in the hard disk’s firmware settings (with a DOS utility). I’ve done this successfully with my Seagate, WD, and Samsung drives. Lately, it seems that WD and Seagate are making drives such that the TLER/ERC settings cannot be modified. Others are reporting this in various forums as well.

      Having said that, I am slowly transitioning from 7200rpm drives to 5900rpm drives for data storage. For example, I have two D-Link DNS 343 NAS boxes, and I am using 4x2TB Seagate Green drives for one unit and 4x2TB Samsung drives for the other (both are 5900rpm drives). I have one box as RAID1, and the other box as JBOD (non-RAID) for backup. I store all my movies, pictures, documents and files on these NAS units. I stream HD movies onto my HTPC with no hiccups. I was actually quite impressed. I also have a Buffalo NAS with 2x1TB (Samsung) 5900rpm drives as RAID1 set up for my wife’s SOHO, which is more than enough for her needs.

      If you need performance out of these drives, then I would go for the 7200rpm drives. The advantage of the faster rpm drives is in faster seek times. All things equal, a 10K rpm drive will have almost double the rate in seek time (faster) than a 5900 rpm drive. Cache also makes a difference: the larger the cache the better.

      If you want to use this drive for high-performance data processing (ie. high-throughput photo or video editing), you might want to set it up as RAID0 and make use of the gigabit network.

      However, don’t let the speed of the drives fool you. I have a WD Raptor 10K RPM with benchmark test numbers maxing out at 68 MB/s read and write, while a WD green drive (at 5900 rpm) at 80 MB/s and a Samsung Spinpoint (also 5900 rpm) is up at 85 MB/s. Of course this does not mean that the slower drives have higher benchmark rates. One of my favorite drives is a Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200rpm. These drives have given me upwards of 125 MB/s transfer rates on the outer platters.

      So my answer to you (after this long rambling response) is that for everyday use (storing documents, photos, videos) and sharing files in your local network, you can go with either drive. My recommendation is to get the 5900rpm drive for drive stability. If you need higher performance, you can go with the 7200rpm drive. Overall, I think you would be happy with this NAS. It is one of the cheaper YET functional NAS devices I have tried.

      I hope it works out for you. Best of luck.

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