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Asustor AS6704T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review

28 novembre 2022 à 17:37

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Hardware Review – Worth Your Data?

When was it that six-bay NAS devices became so popular? It’s hard to pinpoint, isn’t it? When it comes to buying/building your own private server, to get away from subscription cloud services, there is always a balance of three key factors for most buyers – Budget vs Scale vs Power. In recent years we have seen HDD capacity limits grow in such an incredible fashion (with 22TB and 24TB HDDs arriving at the end of 2022 across the popular NAS HDD brands), so cracking the 100TB limits whilst still maintaining a 1-2 disk safety net (i.e redundancy) is easier than ever. Add to this, a huge wave of more power-efficient processors and network controllers arriving in the last 3 years and suddenly NAS devices such as the Asustor Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 (AS6706T) are tremendously appealing. This NAS tickets the boxes of EVERYTHING that most modern NAS buyers are looking for in 2022/2023. These include BTRFS support, 2.5GbE, KVM setups with 4K output, USB 3.2 Gen 2 10GbE connectivity, LCD controls, optional 10GbE, FOUR M.2 NVMe SSD storage bays AND all this arriving in a compact desktop form. The 6-Bay entry into the popular Asustor Lockerstor series makes ALOT of sense, but as 6-Bay NAS is still in its relative infancy (when compares to 2, 4 and 8-Bay systems in the last decade), is the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS the system of your dreams or nightmares? Is it all sizzle and no sausage? Ultimately – does it deserve your data? Let’s review the AS6704T 6-Bay NAS from Asustor.

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Quick Conclusion

The Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS is a respectable piece of kit! Indeed, the hardware here is almost faultless! Unless you are particularly noise sensitive (and therefore the metal chassis adding a few dBa to the ambient sound), there is almost nothing I can fault here on the device’s hardware. The scaling up of practically all hardware over the Gen 1 Lockerstor, such as Better CPU, Better Memory that goes higher, HDMI 2.0b, USB 3.2 Gen 2, a 10GbE upgrade option and THOSE FOUR M. 2 NVMe SSD SLOTS – you simply cannot fault how much is getting included here at the price point vs it’s competitors. The software is a little less compelling, with a smaller range of 1st party applications on offer, more of a reliance on 3rd party services and the absence of a few AAA+ features that are present on other devices in the market (AI services, Cloud Bolt on live synchronization, 1st Party SaaS native sync with Google Workspace/Office365, etc). That said, ADM does run very well, is clear and still quite user-friendly. The addition of choice of file systems EXT4 or BTRFS, flexibility on the use of those M.2 NVMe SSD bays and the Asustor HDMI portal still bring fantastic flexibility to the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS too. Ultimately, this is a system that is clearly making big waves on it’s hardware more than it’s software, but as long as you keep your feet on the ground and appreciate that this system is more of a 70/30 purchase of hardware vs software, you will come to respect and rely on this Asustor NAS as the backbone of your data storage setup.

SOFTWARE - 7/10
HARDWARE - 9/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 9/10
VALUE - 9/10


8.4
PROS
👍🏻Hard/Impossible to find this level of NAS Hardware elsewhere at this price point
👍🏻Those FOUR M.2 NVMe 2280 SSD slots are great and turn this 6-Bay NAS into an 10-Bay
👍🏻2.5GbE by default, as well as the option to add further 2.5/5Gb connections over USB
👍🏻The option to scale up the network connectivity to 10GbE down the line (4 and 6 Bay only)
👍🏻$60 increase over RRP of Lockstor Gen 1, but upgrades practically everything 1-2 levels (New Celeron CPU, Better/High Memory Max, USB 10G, HDMI 2.0b, PCIe Gen 3 Architecture)
👍🏻Includes support for either EXT4 or BTRFS
👍🏻Includes KVM Support with Parallel GUI over HDMI, Asustor Portal
👍🏻ADM is better tha nit has ever been, responsive, clear and intuitive
👍🏻Several different setup and initialization options
👍🏻One of very few 6-Bay NAS drives that still feature a fully functional and controllable LCD Panel
👍🏻Full Support of the traditional RAID levels for this scale (RAID 0-1-5-6)
👍🏻Storage can be expanded with TWO of the Asustor AS6004U 4-Bay
CONS
👎🏻Lack of a fluid RAID System (such as Synology Hybrid RAID, Drobo BeyondRAID or Terramaster TRAID) to allow mixed drive media and easier scaling of storage over time
👎🏻Metal chassis and trays is going to result in an increase of ambient noise (hum/vibration) than other plastic casing/tray NAS systems
👎🏻Some apps (such as the Surveillance Center apps) are long overdue an update in visuals and services
👎🏻ADM is good, but lacks the killer apps/AAA and AI service tools that are being offered by other brands right now
👎🏻They were targeted by the Deadbolt ransomware attack at the start of 2022 and although the linux vulnerability that was used has been reported to be closed and they worked with affected users, this is still going to be on the minds of some buyers

Where to Buy a Product
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Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Packaging

Now, it is worth highlighting that I did review the first generation of the Lockerstor back in Summer 2020, so if you have read that review, you are going to see alot of the same thing in terms of the presentation of the device with the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 from Asustor. Credit to them, one area that in practically every single Asustor review I have ever done that the company always excels on, it is the retail packaging. I have been in the field of technology for quite a long time, as well as growing up as a 90s kid who would admire boxes from afar in my local tech retail outlet. Given the increase on the majority of tech purchases being made online, the necessity for eye-catching retail packaging is pretty low and therefore I am always pleasantly surprised when NAS devices like the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 come along and put that extra bit of effort into to the point of sale design. Arriving in an attractive black and white box, it features numerous images of the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 itself in near 1 to 1 scale, along with lots of highlighted information on the software and hardware advantages of this device. In short, I’m a sucker for a good bit of branding.

Upon opening the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 retail box I’m pleased to confirm that the device is well packaged and partitioned for protection from movement and shock damage in transit, something that is wildly underestimated particularly in the field of data storage hardware. I know I tend to labour this point on YouTube, but silent tech damage is a real thing! I will always give a few extra points to any brand that puts its hand in its pocket and will pay for suitable protection of the unit in transit, as this is a shockingly overlooked area of this kind of technology on the basis that it is sold unpopulated.

The full AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 retail kit contains several items that allow you to deploy the device easily for the very first time. Everything you’re going to need is included here, apart from storage media, as the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 is sold unpopulated. Asustor has always been in the practice of providing solutions without hard drives, so that end users can choose what media and to what extent they wish to populate their NAS on day one. This is, of course, a matter of taste and preference to the end-user, but generally, I always recommend unpopulated solutions, as it will allow you to plan your budget and spending requirements far more fitting to your requirements. The full list of accessories included with the device are:

  • AS6706T NAS Unit
  • 2x CAT 5e LAN Cables
  • Mains Power Cable
  • Setup Guide and Warranty Details (3 Years)
  • Screws for 2.5″ and 3.5″ media and keys

Most of these are fairly standard items, but there are a few elements of this accessory kit that I want to touch on. First up, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 lacks an external power brick, which I know is an area of contention for some buyers who consider this just another thing to accidentally forget to pack when deploying a NAS in multiple locations. I have always been very much counter to this point of view, thinking that an external PSU makes a lot more sense in terms of ease of replacement in the event of failure and it also allows the NAS not to have to contend with additional heat generated from the PSU in this typically 24 X7 environment. However, somewhere in the move from the 4-Bay to the 6-Bay, the PSU on the AS6706T makes a jump from 90W to 250W!  Now, I can appreciate that a larger PSU does not immediately result in increased power consumption (the PSU rating is about the maximum power, not constant), but this does seem like tremendous overkill! The 250W PSU means that the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 (as an external 250W PSU would be 1) large and 2) expensive). But still, this is quite big PSU increase and that can result in some increases in heat internally, putting an increase on the importance of ventilation.

Additionally, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 arrives with to RJ45 network cables, one for each available network port. These are cat5e and therefore more than suitable for 1Gbe and 2.5Gbe. Now (and I will touch on this more later), the 4-Bay and 6-Bay in the Lockerstor series arrive with a PCIe upgrade slot that allows you to upgrade to 10Gb ethernet, so for that, scaling up to a Cat 6 would be advisable. 

Finally, it is worth highlighting that the device also arrives with sets of hard drive tray keys, cable clips and screws for installing media into the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2. However, there was an absence of heat sinks for the m.2 2280 NVMe media bays. the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 features four NVMe SSD cache bays (two more than the Gen 1 model and one of the big jumps that the Gen 2 Lockstor brings compared with it’s predecessor), however, I would have expected a couple of NVMe silicone or thermal heat pads included with this device. not a huge problem but just a minor thing I noticed worthy of comment. The other chassis does provide a little more ventilation over the area of the internal hardware where these M.2 drives would live, as well as provide a good amount of room for a 3rd party heatsink (as little as $10), but I am still a little disappointed that 2280 heatsinks were not provided, especially for the eventuality of these drives being used for caching. Overall I am quite happy with the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 retail kit, despite the odd thing missed. However, I am sure many of you I’m more concerned with the build quality of this new Asustor NAS, so let’s crack on.

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Design

The AS6706T NAS arrives in very unique and slightly old skool design. When many brands have dropped LCD panels in favour of simpler LEDs and metal screwed bays in favour of plastic click and load trays – Asustor has clearly stuck to their guns. Design-wise, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 AS6706T is IDENTICAL to the Lockerstor Gen 1 series (That said, there was no 6-Bay in the Gen 1 series, so this is an extensive of the existing design logic found in the 4-Bay and 8-Bay Lockerstor Chassis’). This 6-bay solution features a fantastically rugged casing, that is almost exclusively metal in both external casing and right the way down to the individual drive bays. Typically this is an area where most brands will make economies, for reasons of mass production or for reasons of noise reduction. However, I am well aware that there is a large contingent of NAS buyers who prefer metal NAS systems for added heat dissipation and build quality desirability. For those buyers, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 is a dream come true, indeed!

This 6-bay features a controllable LCD front-mounted panel that provides real-time information about the NAS when powered on. This information may appear a tad rudimentary, but there is no avoiding that it is useful if you need to know information such as the IP of individual network ports, state of internal temperature and details on notification warnings audibly triggered from the physical system at the touch of a button. Sure, you can access this information by logging in via the client applications or browser-based GUI, but this can take longer than a simple click of a button on the physical NAS and is especially relevant when the alert buzzer is triggered for reasons of storage degradation where the time frame is important.

HOWEVER, an often overlooked fact of the Lockerstor 6 NAS is that you can actually set the whole thing up with just the LCD panel – no desktop or model App needed! You can navigate initialization and single disk redundancy RAID configuration right from the first time power on via the LCD panel. Now, obviously, long-term access is going to be done with desktop/mobile client tools, however, for installers and/or IT Admins looking to quickly deploy these units, this level of fast setup is going to be remarkably handy. Equally, in the event of a system issue/warning (RAID degradation, high internal temperatures, disk health recognized in SMART tests, etc), the LCD panel allows you much MUCH faster means to identify the issue and address the buzzer/alarm than logging in via a client, going through authentication and more. This is especially handy if the issue is network connectivity related. Unsurprisingly, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 features numerous areas of LED notification. these are considerably less useful and detailed than the LCD panel but still provide minimalist information about system access and activity.

Another physical feature of the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 that I’m pleased to confirm is still present in this 2022 NAS drive is a front-mounted USB port and copy button. Though in the case of the Gen 2 system, they have upgraded this to USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s), so twice the locally connected bandwidth of its predecessor. More and more brands are removing this feature in favour of a stand-alone USB port that can trigger backups automatically when a given external drive is connected. The Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 has both a physical button that can manually instigate multiple types of NAS to USB backup, as well as an automated trigger system too – better to have both than either, as if you are going to the trouble of connecting a drive physically to this NAS the extra steps in assurance to simply click a button and the first-hand witness the backup begin is just an extra layer of peace and self-assured security that for me is vital, to have confidence in your backup strategy. Plus, the featured support of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 protocol means that you can take better advantage of external RAID storage drives and external NVMe SSD backup enclosures with a 1,000MB/s bandwidth to saturate!

BAYS / TRAYS CLOSE VENTS

Carrying on with the theme of rugged design, the drive trays featured on the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 are particularly good quality. Each tray has a dedicated switch-based locking mechanism, plenty of ventilation and is even spring-loaded, something we are seeing less and less these days. Each tray supports a 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch SATA media drive, as well as allowing you to deploy this device with a single drive if you choose. However, as these are metal trays, that is going to increase ambient noise when it comes to larger scale HDDs of 10TB and above (predominantly all 7200RPM, 7+ Platter and helium sealed – in other words, industrial and prone to noisy operation to start with).

TRAY HDD MONTAGE

Of course, this device is designed with the utilisation of a RAID configuration ideally in mind and as this device supports both the very latest 20TB and 22TB drives, as well as numerous RAID configurations in JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID5, RAID 6 and RAID 10. This means by current storage drive standards, this device can support up to 132TB of storage, and can even be expanded with an official Asustor expansion device over USB.

The abundance of metal design on the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 nice will certainly assist heat dissipation, but there is no avoiding that it will also play its part in increasing general sound levels negatively. Alongside this, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 features less typically visible ventilation than what you see on most desktop NAS solutions. Alongside the rear-mounted active cooling fan, the only other passive cooling to assist airflow is via a minimal ventilation slit on the side and what ventilation is available on each drive tray. Once again, this system requires a little less ventilation than more plastic-based NAS casing and is therefore excusable to a degree. Next, we discuss the ports and connections available on the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Ports and Connections

The ports and connections on the rear of the Asustor Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 AS6706T NAS are comparable to that of the original 2/4/8/10 Bay systems from 2020, but a few tweaks for the new refresh have definitely been made. That said, one thing that has remained between the revisions is the inclusion of 2.5GbE connectivity (Asustor were the first to unveil commercial 2.5GbE NAS right the way back in 2019 with the Nimbustor series).

These Ethernet connections, both of which feature 2.5GBASE-T/Coppe (2.5x that of traditional ethernet speeds) allow you a much better opportunity to fully take advantage externally of that RAID of HDDs inside. Additionally, these ports can be combined (via link aggregation/port trunking) to allow up to 5 Gbe combined bandwidth. There are, of course, numerous factors to consider before reaching these speeds such as making sure the rest of your network environment is 2.5Gbe and above compatible, as well as the storage media inside providing that level of performance. However, it is still impressive that the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 can arrive at a lower price tag than the Synology DS1621+ (with its 4x 1GbE connectivity) and even slide under the price point of the QNAP TS-664 NAS, yet still arrived with some great prosumer hardware.

Additionally, this system also features an HDMI out that can be used in unison with the dedicated parallel GUI, Asustor portal. This separate user interface and means to interact with the data on your NAS in a far more graphical level is something currently only QNAP provides. The visual out used in conjunction with the two additional USB 3.2 ports opens up numerous KVM (or keyboard video mouse) applications, such as a stand-alone surveillance system, a stand-alone desktop computer used in conjunction with the virtual machine software, direct output of your movies and box sets from your collection, a retro arcade machine with support for controllers and numerous other first and third-party software options.

Additionally, the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 has scaled things up over the previous model by adding HDMI 2.0b, which is a 4K 60 frames per second visual output, but also is much more efficient at handling HDR and SDR using available bandwidth. That means that you will be able to enjoy particularly dense 4K top-end media with close to zero playback and browsing latency time, by connecting the NAS directly to your TV, as opposed to streaming such large media over the network.

The USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports that are featured on the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 can also be used by numerous supported hardware peripherals and storage devices by the core NAS system, such as UPS devices, printers, expansion chassis, remotes, external storage and wireless dongles. There are even 2.5Gbe and 5Gbe USB adapters that allow you to add further network interfaces to this NAS and increase the available bandwidth to multiple users(and apps) accessing the data on the lockerstor NAS for their own needs. The 6x SATA Bays and 4x M.2 NVMe SSD Gen 3 Bays are going to provide a tremendous level of throughput, which those two 2.5GbE ports and the option to add two more 2.5/5GbE connections via USB will go a long way to externally support. But that is not the only option in this 6-Bay NAS.

The Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS also has a PCIe Upgrade slot that allows you to install Asustor’s AS-T10G2 10GbE upgrade card and add ANOTHER 1,000MBs (10Gb) external connectivity to your total network bandwidth on offer! So, once again, we are seeing a whole bunch of upgrades in the Lockerstor Gen 2. Let’s move on to the internal hardware that is on offer with this system.

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Internal Hardware

Much like its predecessor, once I removed the external casing of this NAS drive, we find that the bulk of the main controller PCB is covered by a layer of heat-reflective plastic. Under this, we find the main CPU and memory of the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 system.

LID OFF

The CPU featured in the Asustor Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS has scaled up from the Intel J4125 in its predecessor to the much newer Intel Celeron N5105, a processor that has become exceptionally popular this year in most mid-range NAS solutions with its excellent price vs featured chipset support. This has become especially true since some brands have started moving away from integrated processors like the Intel Celeron series and switching to more traditionally ‘file processing’ focused chips. The presence of a Celeron in the Lockstor Gen 2 will be of particularly good news to those who take advantage of Plex media server and similar (Emby, Jellyfin, etc) to playback denser HEVC/H.265 media and are reliant on client-side conversions. This CPU features a 2.0Ghz clock speed that can be upped to 2.9Ghz when needed, on each of the 4 cores.

This CPU also allows the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 to take advantage of fast and large quantity memory when compared to the 2-Bay and 4-Bay systems, with this NAS arriving with 8GB of DDR4 SODIMM 2933Mhz memory that can be upgraded to 16GB as needed. For those running larger camera/surveillance operations, VMS and containers or larger-scale sync tasks, this will be great news!

Then there is possibly one of the most popular hardware upgrades in the Lockerstor Gen 2 over the Gen 1, the inclusion of FOUR M.2 NVMe SSD slots. These can be partially or fully populated with M.2 SSDs of upto 2280 length and are Gen 3 in architecture. I am still investigating if it’s PCIe 3×1 or 3×2 (I suspect the former, given the scale of hardware here that is running on this architecture/chipset).

Now, this means a possible bandwidth of 1,000-2,000MB/s. This does present the tiniest bottleneck when connecting more modern PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMes (Seagate Ironwolf 510s, Samsung 980 and WD Black SN750 for example) that can hit 3,000-3,400MB/s at peak, but you will still see great performance benefits (particularly in file operations that require smaller and more frequent files in high quantities) and the benefits of SSD cache used in conjunction with a larger more cost-effective hard drive RAID array have long been established. However, it is worth highlighting that unlike the Synology flagship six-bay ‘ (DS1621+), the NVMe SSD that you install inside the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 can be used for both SSD caching or as raw storage pools (either for a faster container of storage, for the Asustor ADM system software or for individual apps). There is talk of Synology enabling these bays for use as storage bays in the future, but only in 2021/2022 systems that have the bandwidth available – but Asustor have had this feature available for almost 2 years now.

HOWEVER! It is worth keeping in mind that the 4x M.2 NVMe SSD slots that the Asustor Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 has are on a separate PCIe board that is connected to the main board via the PCIe upgrade slot. That means that you will need to choose between the 4x m.2 NVMes or 10GbE official Asustor upgrade card. There ARE combination 10GbE and M.2 SSD cards in the market, but their compatibility with the Asustor platform is still TBC.

In performance testing by Asustor, using four SATA IronWolf SSD 110’s, the system was easily about to fully saturate the two 2.5GbE ports (in Link Aggregation), hitting performance of 591MB/s seq Read and 591MB/s seq Write. Even with domestic class or Pro series hard drives, you would almost certainly see the exact same level of network saturation.

In terms of 10GbE performance over a single 10Gb file (when using the AS-T10G2 network upgrade card), the results are a little less clear. Asustor reported the Seq Read performance clearly maxing the bandwidth at 1,181MB/s, but Seq Write at just 1,182MB/s. Now, this could be a number of smaller factors (using SATA storage bays in a RAID that tend to only increase performance incrementally by 150-200MB/s a drive, or the Intel Celeron inside being less file service optimized – (see my video discussing the AMD Embedded Ryzen vs Intel Celeron family here). Still, these are still quite reasonable numbers for a 6-Bay NAS and if you were to factor in the 4x M.2 NVMe SSD Bays (future video), then I think we would comfortably see much higher numbers!

Overall, the hardware that is on offer here with the Asustor AS6706T NAS is very good for the money and is a decent upgrade over the Gen 1 Lockerstor. However, a NAS is a combined hardware and software packaging and we need to go into more detail on ADM, the system software and services that are bundled in with the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2.

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Software

The Asustor AS6706T NAS arrives with the latest version of ADM included. Additionally, this software receives frequent updates to ensure that the software runs the very best it can on the Lockerstor, as well as keeping up to date with security patches and application versions. The NAS software is accessible via a web browser and displayed very much like a normal computer operating system (desktop, user accounts, customizable themes, file management, running multiple tasks in windows that can be switched in the native tabs), but there are also a range of desktop client tools for accessing the NAS on your local machine natively, as well as a whole bunch of mobile applications that allow tailored access from your phone/tablet in more task-specific means (eg a photo app for viewing pictures and creating phone backup routines, a video app for enjoying your movies and boxsets, surveillance app to access your cameras, etc).  There is also a large range of support of 3rd party applications too in the ADM platform. Asustor is not as big a company as the likes of Synology and QNAP, whole put ALOT more money into their software development, but Asustor try to counter this by (when they do not have an in-house app) making native versions of 3rd party tools in their platform (example, they do not have a 1st party Virtual Machine app, but DO include huge support for VirtualBox). The platform is not quite as fully featured as DSM and QTS, but it is still a very smooth and accessible software platform. The app center has a few more 3rd party applications and slightly crowbarred software (eg the Amazon Media and Streaming service plugins) that is not updated up the original uploaders anywhere near enough (leading to running issues on these tools), but the 1st party apps run very well. The big takeaway on the Asustor software and it’s services is that the standard class of expected features of a modern NAS in 2022/2023 are here and run exactly as you would want, it is just some of the additional ones that other platforms have doubled down on (such as AI-related services in Photography and Surveillance for example) that are a little lacking. That said, the brand has definitely ramped up a number of the key security protocols and settings in the default setup.

LooksGood Media App – Built-in three main video library categories; movies, TV shows, home movies and smart video sorting management

    • The efficient global search function allows for searches by keywords followed by the execution of more detailed searches for the purpose of finding categories of movies, TV shows, home movies and parameters such as actors, director, year, genre, writer and title
    • Attractive poster wall and thumbnail display
    • Automatic production of video poster thumbnails
    • Centralized management and ability to configure the order of favourites and playlist history
    • The system administrator is able to configure video library and editing permissions according to user preferences
    • Can configure access permissions to share with
    • Multimedia conversion feature
    • Self-defined smart folder for video conversions
    • Supports digital TV recordings via digital
    • Easy streaming with Chromecast and DLNA
    • Supports playback of videos in Apple TV via AiVideos tvOS version

Plex – Hardware Transcoding (with a Plex Pass) is likely and with 1080p handled very well indeed, as well as some Plex 4K transcoding in H.265 (upto 60-80Mb bitrate) and the majority of H.264 Media upto 100Mb bitrate

Virtual Machines – A graphical embedded CPU like the one here will run Windows 10 and Android VMs very well. With the added support for Ubuntu and Hackintosh with VirtualBox. Then there is the option to scale up that memory to allow smoother VMs

Storage Management – BTRFS Support, as well as EXT4 for the traditionalist, Multiple Snapshot storage and browsing for recovery, a large number of ISCSI and LUN target creation, fast-acting SSD caching use. Remember that those M.2 NVMe SSD Bays can be used as both raw Pools and Caching

Network Management – Support of LAG, Load Balancing and virtual switches, as well as maintaining top transmission over 2.5/5/10Gbe for editing or gaming over the network. As well as Jumbo Frame control, DDNS automation, Wake on LAN support and internet/external NAS access with EZ Connect

Backups – Supporting a wide range of multi-tiered backup options that can be carried out simultaneously thanks to the powerful CPU in the Lockerstor and Nimbustor NAS systems, such as network RSync, USB Backups, NAS-2-NAS migration, Cloud Backups with Google Drive, Dropbox and Backblaze and numerous RAID levels internally for redundancy.

Content Management – Numerous Content Management Systems (CMS) and Customer Relationship Managers (CRMs) available in 1st and 3rd party forms, with simultaneous operations supported by this NAS

User Account Control – Supporting over 4,000 accounts, each with its own bespoke privileges and access levels, as well as grouping methods to automate the process easily

Security – AES 256bit hardware encryption on data in/out of the device, as well as over backup methods, with the Intel Celeron CPU in the AS6706T maintaining high R/W speeds throughout, as well as Windows ACL permission and configuration, auto blacklisting and multiple VPN provider support

Antivirus (ClamAV) – Scheduled Scans, Automatic Virus Definition Updates, Quarantine Infected Files

Download Center – Supports BT(Torrent & Magnet Link), HTTP and FTP Downloads, Torrent Search, Bandwidth Control, RSS Subscription and Automatic Downloading (Broadcatching), ASUSTOR Download Assistant for Windows & Mac

DropBox, OneDrive and Google Drive Sync – Each ADM Account is Able to Individually Log into one cloud Account, supporting Sync, Directly Upload Files to cloud from the NAS, or from cloud to NAS

Mail Server – Each ADM Account can Become an Independent Email Account, Provides SMTP, IMAP and POP3 Mail Protocols, Spam Filter and Black List Settings, Antivirus Scanning for Emails, Exclusive Email Backup Mechanism, Auto-Forwarding and Auto-Response Protocols

Photo Gallary – “Album” and “Browse” Viewing Modes, Manage Photo Album Access Rights: Public Access, Restricted to Certain Accounts, Album Password, Multi-level Folder Structure Support, Supports Tagging of Photos, One-click Sharing to Social Media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Plurk, email), Intuitive Drag and Drop Management, Slideshow Viewing Mode, Supports a Wide Range of Image Formats: JPG/JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, RAW and Supports Video Playback

Surveillance Center – Up to 64 channels in 720p on single live view display, On-screen camera controls including camera PTZ, manual recordings, take snapshots, configure camera settings and open Maps, Up to 4 channels of synchronous and non-synchronous playback with audio, Intelligent video analytics including motion detection and foreign object detection, Supported Browsers: Windows Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Mac Safari, Mac Firefox ESR, Event notification supports SMS, E-mail, and mobile push notification, AiSecure mobile app for iOS and Android with Push notification, Maximum IP Cam (4 Free Licenses; Additional Licenses to be Purchased)

Takeasy – Download from YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch and More, Selectable Video Type and Quality, Automatic Downloads with YouTube or Twitch Subscriptions, Preview Downloads in Progress and Online Playback

SoundsGood Audio App – Import Personal/Public Music Collection, Personal/Public Music Collection Permission Control, Playlist Editor, ID3 Tag Editor, Local Speaker Support: HDMI, USB, Audio Jack, Supported Audio Formats for Browser: MP3, WAV, Ogg, Supported Audio Formats for Transcoding Through Browser: AIFF, Flac, Supported Audio Formats for Local Speaker: MP3, WAV, Ogg, AIFF, Flac

Backup Tools – Rsync (Remote Sync) Backup, Cloud Backup, FTP Backup, External Backup, One-Touch Backup, EZ Sync, Btrfs Snapshots

These are just the tip of the iceberg and I will be going into more ADM 3.4 and AS6706T applications in the Software Review.

Here is how the Asustor ADM platform compares with the Synology DSM platform:

Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS Review – Conclusion

The Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS is a respectable piece of kit! Indeed, the hardware here is almost faultless! Unless you are particularly noise sensitive (and therefore the metal chassis adding a few dBa to the ambient sound), there is almost nothing I can fault here on the device’s hardware. The scaling up of practically all hardware over the Gen 1 Lockerstor, such as Better CPU, Better Memory that goes higher, HDMI 2.0b, USB 3.2 Gen 2, a 10GbE upgrade option and THOSE FOUR M. 2 NVMe SSD SLOTS – you simply cannot fault how much is getting included here at the price point vs it’s competitors. The software is a little less compelling, with a smaller range of 1st party applications on offer, more of a reliance on 3rd party services and the absence of a few AAA+ features that are present on other devices in the market (AI services, Cloud Bolt on live synchronization, 1st Party SaaS native sync with Google Workspace/Office365, etc). That said, ADM does run very well, is clear and still quite user-friendly. The addition of choice of file systems EXT4 or BTRFS, flexibility on the use of those M.2 NVMe SSD bays and the Asustor HDMI portal still bring fantastic flexibility to the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS too. Ultimately, this is a system that is clearly making big waves on it’s hardware more than its software, but as long as you keep your feet on the ground and appreciate that this system is more of a 70/30 purchase of hardware vs software, you will come to respect and rely on this Asustor NAS as the backbone of your data storage setup.

PROs of the Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS CONs of the Asustor AS6706T Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS
Hard/Impossible to find this level of NAS Hardware elsewhere at this price point

Those FOUR M.2 NVMe 2280 SSD slots are great and turn this 6-Bay NAS into an 10-Bay

2.5GbE by default, as well as the option to add further 2.5/5Gb connections over USB

The option to scale up the network connectivity to 10GbE down the line (4 and 6 Bay only)

$60 increase over RRP of Lockstor Gen 1, but upgrades practically everything 1-2 levels (New Celeron CPU, Better/High Memory Max, USB 10G, HDMI 2.0b, PCIe Gen 3 Architecture)

Includes support for either EXT4 or BTRFS

Includes KVM Support with Parallel GUI over HDMI, Asustor Portal

ADM is better tha nit has ever been, responsive, clear and intuitive

Several different setup and initialization options

One of very few 6-Bay NAS drives that still feature a fully functional and controllable LCD Panel

Full Support of the traditional RAID levels for this scale (RAID 0-1-5-6)

Storage can be expanded with TWO of the Asustor AS6004U 4-Bay

Lack of a fluid RAID System (such as Synology Hybrid RAID, Drobo BeyondRAID or Terramaster TRAID) to allow mixed drive media and easier scaling of storage over time

Metal chassis and trays is going to result in an increase of ambient noise (hum/vibration) than other plastic casing/tray NAS systems

Some apps (such as the Surveillance Center apps) are long overdue an update in visuals and services

ADM is good, but lacks the killer apps/AAA and AI service tools that are being offered by other brands right now

They were targeted by the Deadbolt ransomware attack at the start of 2022 and although the linux vulnerability that was used has been reported to be closed and they worked with affected users, this is still going to be on the minds of some buyers

Need More Help Choosing the right NAS?

Choosing the right data storage solution for your needs can be very intimidating and it’s never too late to ask for help. With options ranging from NAS to DAS, Thunderbolt to SAS and connecting everything up so you can access all your lovely data at the touch of a button can be a lot simpler than you think. If you want some tips, guidance or help with everything from compatibility to suitability of a solution for you, why not drop me a message below and I will get back to you as soon as possible with what you should go for, its suitability and the best place to get it. This service is designed without profit in mind and in order to help you with your data storage needs, so I will try to answer your questions as soon as possible.

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Which Backup Method is Best? NAS vs Cloud vs Tape vs USB

23 septembre 2022 à 18:00

What is the Best Way to Backup Your Data Every Day?

I know it is not going to be shocking news when I say that Data is really, really important. That should not come as a staggering fact. If you found this article thanks to a rather perceptive google search, then clearly you think data is very important too. It is all too easy to rely on your data living on multiple machines in your office or home. Centralized backup is a very unappealing idea. For a start, it is expensive. You will spend hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on storage, then you find out that you need to have it in ANOTHER location too (as otherwise, it isn’t truly a backup) and then worse still it isn’t even being spent on making more space, but actually to duplicate your old data and not be used. You are spending all this money on what can be described as a remarkably large insurance policy. Worse still if you have all the machines in your home or office backing up to a device in that same location, almost all data safety and storage experts will scream to high heaven that this is still not enough. Sadly this is true, because not only do you put yourself at risk of complete critical loss in the event of fire or flooding, but also in the case of theft you end up having all your eggs in one basket and making the thieves lives much easier. So ultimate you have to stop thinking about this only in terms of how much this storage is going to cost. If you think like that, you will never move past stage one. No, you have to think about how much will this data cost you to LOSE. Your personal media (family, events, memories), your client’s data or perhaps your surveillance data. Take a moment and think how much it would cost your business right now if you lost your data – hundreds? Thousands? Close the business? The ideal backup solution should always be based on the cost of loss, not gain! Although a little trite, it is still a reliable rule of thumb to have a 3-2-1 backup solution operation that looks like this:

  1. Primary Data (Where data is initially created/collected, the PCs, the Macs, the Phones, etc)
  2. On-site Backup solution (where multiple devices are backup’ed up to internally, also more commonly referred to as the bare-metal backup)
  3. Off-site/different location Backup (where the copy of the on-site backup lives that is separate network and/or physical location. This can range from another NAS, to a cloud provider and even a USB drive)

Stages 2 and 3 should be encrypted in case they are stolen/entered, as well as feature login credentials and an admin system in the event of them being occupied/accessed illegally. Today I want to focus on the 2nd and 3rd stages of your backup routine and help you decide the best ways to spend your budget on the most effective safety net and recovery system for your needs.

Backup and Redundancy – DO NOT GET THEM MIXED UP!

Way, WAY too many NAS (network-attached storage) or DAS (direct-attached storage) owners think their data actually have a backup layer in place when they refer to their RAID configuration, their versioning or their snapshots. These are NOT backup methods and are actually designed primarily as a means of recovering your data in the event of an HDD/SSD dying, an accidentally deleted file or rolling a file back to a previous revision. Think of RAID/Snapshots/Versioning as ‘safety nets’, The only work from INSIDE the infrastructure NOT outside of it. If the NAS server or RAID enabled DAS box does, then there is a very high chance that your data cannot be recovered via these methods (not impossible, just touch and certainly not foolproof). Below is a video that breaks down a number of different Backup and Redundancy methods inside a single NAS system:

How Expensive is a 2-Stage Backup and Do I need it?

The cost of a 2-stage backup (i.e having 2 backups of your data) operation can be measured by the amount of data you/your company produces on a daily basis. Additionally, depending on your commitment to holding onto your data (so, for business, you might have a 6 year or 12-month retention policy) there are ways to make economies in between the stages. However, whether you are a home user of a business user, there are few instances where a double-layered backup is not ideal. Let’s look at this from a business and home user point of view:

Why Business and Enterprise users need an Extensive Data Backup Plan

Example. Your company has 10 employees. Each has their own workstation and they contact clients on a daily basis to drum up new sales, fulfil existing quotes and maintain a customer relationship manager (CRM). You have both #1 AND #2 stage backups (so local PCs and A NAS in-house maybe) covered. Plus you have business insurance in case of a fire or flood. One morning you arrive to find your office has been flooded/burnt/burgled/struck by lightning and everything is fried. At first, you think, lucky we have insurance. They will pay up for whole new office equipment, PCs and your server. However, what about all that customer data? Not only can the insurance company not replace it but they will not pay its consequential value (with VERY few insurance policies covering data recovery services). So now you have to start from square 1. Plus now you also have a bundle of rather angry customers from the previous days and weeks whose requirements go unfulfilled. This coupled with starting your business network from scratch, employees salaries continuing as normal and several IT guys (or 1 guy working for days) setting everything up from scratch again (this WILL be the case from fire, flood or theft) could easily KILL a company. Now, in that context, isn’t a few thousand put towards an off-site #3 Backup so bad? Thought not.

Why Home and Private users need an Extensive Data Backup Plan Too

Ok, so a home user has a smaller ecosystem to maintain and now the mission-critical data and the life or death nature of your information is less so. Or is it? Example #2. What about all those important house documents you’ve scanned? Those TV shows and movies you bought on a one time download? What about your wedding picture or those of your children growing up? Those videos of your friends and relatives that are no longer with us? Not to be bleak, but it is often the case that although much of a person’s data is not of huge financial value, it is still utterly and completely irreplaceable in the literal sense.

Likewise, if your many devices (phones, computers, hard drives) get corrupted, hacked with malware/ransomware or simply broken, don’t you want the peace of mind of knowing that there is always a backup of EVERYTHING? If you are copying the data of all your devices to a large hard drive enclosure in your home, this is NOT a perfect backup. It just protects you from the loss of one or more of your mobile/individual devices. Additionally, the minute you start deleting files on your phone/laptop to ‘make some space because it is already backed up on the NAS‘, your NAS is not a backup, it is the single repository for that data!  So, as you can see, the need for a reliable true backup is paramount regardless of whether you are a home user or business user. However accepting that you need a backup is not enough, you need to know what to consider when choosing the right backup. Home users and their data volume/frequency can always consider USB backups of course, which can be good but only upto the time that the last backup took place AND on the assumption that the USB drive is stored offsite periodically.

What are the factors I need to take into account when considering my Backup Solution?

Choosing the best full backup for your data can be a little difficult. With so many variables ranging from cost to size to speed and more, it can be easy to go around in circles and still end up choosing nothing. In almost all cases, the deciding factor is cost. However, this is closely followed by speed. Having a backup is all well and good, but if it takes too long to finish, it can often be slower than the speed at which you create data and create a bottleneck. Likewise, if you choose an unsuitable connection of choice between your primary backup storage and/or off-site 2nd backup storage, then they may communicate inefficiently. Below are the main overheads to consider when choosing your backup.

Distance & Speed – How far is the 2nd backup going to be from the primary backup and/or primary data source? Unless you are considering fibre cabling between different physical sites, you are going to be limited by your upload/download speed and if your network is busy with multiple users, then you will need to provision priority of service to these backup connections, or else risk it affecting day to day operation (particularly VoIP connections – a growing necessity in 2022 with shifting patterns in the way we are working during/ost pandemic). The local connections between your client devices in-house and the primary backup may well only be using an internet network/LAN to communicate, but that can still become oversaturated. So be sure to provision switches where appropriate too (we will touch on 10GbE later)

Power (Watts etc) – The power of the hardware inside the primary (bare-metal) data storage device, secondary backup target and (depending on your setup) even the power of your client hardware in house is also an important factor to take into consideration when scaling and provisioning an appropriate backup strategy. Critical power failure (i.e a power cut) in one or more of these locations can not only result in some data not being backed up, but more importantly can compromise the backups themselves, with some systems suffering critical hardware failure and SSD/HDD damage in the process. It is HIGHLY recommended for users who are considering a private server for their data have it connected to the mains power via a USB device, in order to allow the system to still operate in the event of power failure AND shut itself down safely.

Physical Media – The server of choice for your primary backup is only half of the battle. The media that you are storing the data too can make a huge impact too. Many have their own maximum speed or capacity, so even with a super-fast enclosure and/or connection, you will be bottlenecked by the drives themselves. All media types e.g. HDD, SSD or Tape have their own maximum performance and some are lower than the connection maximum and some are faster and therefore end up creating a limited speed inadvertently. This can be negated in a number of ways. These range from the use of RAID (redundant array of independent disks) that combines media into single storage pools that benefit from redundancy (i.e a safety net if one drive dies) and/or increases in performance. Additionally, you can look at SSD caching, a service that is particularly popular in private NAS servers released after around 2018 and continues to be included in most systems. SSD caching allows the system to have one of more SSDs installed and then utilize the increased performance they offer to benefit write actions (i.e you write data onto the SSDs first and then the NAS moves it over to the slower HDDs afterwards) and/or read actions (where the most frequently accessed files are cloned onto the SSDs and it speeds up their access to client devices) though this is less useful for backups, it is still a useful option.

The Media connection internally – As mentioned, the SATA port on most commercial HDD/SSD has a maximum of 6 gigabits (Gbs) in SATA III – SAS at 12 Gigabits. All of these are internal and are maximum bandwidths available to each media drive installed in each bay. However, realistically, most typical Hard Drives max out at 272MB/s at the very top end (and even then, this is using enterprise-grade HDDs) and most conventional 2.5″ SSDs (with the exception of U.2 and U.3) max out at about 550MB/s). So you are going to need several of these drives inside your primary backup system in a decent RAID configuration to facilitate performance AND redundancy (like a RAID 5 or RAID 5). For your external/2nd backup target, a lot of enterprise users take advance of cold storage such as tape drive media. Designed to be used for data that needs to be held for insurance/archive for years and years, the current highest generation of tape architecture is is LTO-9 = 400MB/s in uncompressed/RAW form and 1000MB/s in compressed, with storage capacities per tape hitting 45 Terabytes! However, a full backup would take (at best, so with everything at full!) over 12 hours to transfer. Additionally, tape backup is fantastically expensive and therefore largely enterprise only as an option.

The external connection – Lastly and possibly the most overlooked part, is the communication between your primary client devices to send data, the primary backup data and the secondary backup. Not just the speed, but the resilience and future-proofing. You need to consider what connection you are going to use today, tomorrow and years from now. The last thing you want is to saddle yourself with a connection now and later when you upgrade your primary hardware on individual clients or locations, end up with a device you cannot access or use with an unchangeable bottleneck. Then your data just becomes a chore to access at best and potentially days or weeks or time to restore. Popular connections and their speed between host and client devices are:

Network Backups (backups that share a LAN or vLANs in a greater network)

  • 1GBe LAN/Ethernet = 1Gbit/s, or 100-109MB/s
  • 2.5GbE LAN/Ethernet = 2.5Gbit/s, or 250-270MB/s
  • 5GbE LAN/Ethernet = 5Gbit/s, or 500-545MB/s
  • 10GbE LAN/Ethernet = 10Gbit/s, or 1000-1024MB/s

USB and local Backups directly connected and stored offsite

  • USB 3.0 (3.2 Gen 1) = 5 Gbit/s
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2= 10 Gbit/s
  • USB 3.2×2 = 20 Gbit/s
  • Thunderbolt 3 & Thunderbolt 4 = 40 Gbit/s

Fast Local Backups or Direct Connections over large distances

  • Fibrechannel / FC – 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 128 gigabit per second rates depending to start
  • Tape Based backups, such as LTO 7,8,9 – 300/360/400MB/s uncompressed and 750/900/1000MB/s compressed
  • Cloud storage – dependant on connection. Additionally, factors such as upload and download speeds, fair usage policies and more affect the performance. If you are fortunate to have a 1 Gigabit internet connection, that means around 100MB/s for download speeds and a fraction of that for upload speeds

So, as you can see, there are many choices out there for a means of sending backup between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd parts of your backup environment.

What is the Difference in Speed and Cost between different Backup Solutions?

And so to the meat of the subject. Different solutions cost money and in the interests of SPEED, below i have detailed numerous solutions that will provide a backup solution of upto 10TB of storage. All Costs and speeds are based on a solution that is an acceptable distance away for maximum efficiency. Perfect speed results were provided with http://www.calctool.org/ , however, it is worth noting that these are ‘perfect situation’ based and it would be tough to see this maximum threshold. you will comfortably see around 10-20% below this, but that is fine. Finally, it is always worth remembering that the speeds mentioned below are based on an initial 10 Terabyte backup. After that, there is the likely possibility that future backups will be much more granular (this can also be referred to as differential backups, where only the changed files are backed up each time afterwards). But some users may wish to take advantage of time managed backups, where a full backup per day is kept, for X number of days (when eventually the newest backup will overwrite the oldest on rotation).

ALSO IMPORTANT – In all examples where a 4TB SSD (which average around £350-400 over SATA) is mentioned, you can use a 4TB HDDs at around £75-100 (brand depending) to save a considerable sum – but you will effective quadruple or more the time the initial backups will take. Likewise, future incremental backups will be significantly reduced also.  In examples where the SSD would have been substantially bottlenecked by a connection, I have used HDD as you will not need to spend the extra.

The Best Value 1/2.5GbE based Backup Solution for 10TB of data

For a solid LAN based backup (with optional internet access as needed for off-site work) I would recommend the Synology DS220+ 2 Bay Pentium NAS at around £250. Alongside this, you will need a smart Switch (to take advantage of LAG and 2GbE, 2x 10TB HDD at £230 each as you will not see any speed difference on a network connection with SSD (RAID 1). This will cost around just under £800. Alternatively, there have been other improvements in the base level ethernet connectivity in 2-4 Bay NAS solutions in the last few years, with 2.5GbE or even 5GbE available on the likes of the QNAP TS-x53D, TS-x73A or Asustor Lockerstor 2/4 series. These solutions arrive at only a fraction more and although they can possibly add another £100-200 to the price tag, this can be offset by time saved in the backup operations AND by purchasing a 4-Bay NAS over a 2-Bay and leveraging the price vs the redundancy vs the capacity (eg instead of 2x 10TB in RAID 1, purchasing 4x 3TB and getting better performance and an extra 2TB in RAID 5).

What do CalcTool.org have to say about 1GBe

CalcTool.org

Over 1 Gigabit per second, in a perfect scenario – just over 20 hours. Realistically closer to 25 or 30 hours. SO the first few backups should be conducted over the weekend but all future ‘difference only’ backups should be fin at 12-hour intervals without harming the bandwidth too much, Likewise, you can scale this down as you utilize link aggregation (also known as port trunking, when ports are combined) and/or 2.5GbE/5GbE to reduce this figure down to 8 hours or just 4 hours respectively.

The Best Value 10GBe Network-Based Solution for 10TB of Data

In order to create the perfect cost-effective yet powerful 10GBe Network-based backup solution (so 10x faster than normal LAN) I would recommend the QNAP TS-431X3 with 10GBe  (at around £450) with SFP+ Connection and  SFP+ Cables with transceivers attached (Cable price dependant on length and transceivers). Additionally, you will need a 10GBe switch (at least £150 realistically), and for MAXIMUM speed 4x 4TB Seagate Ironwolf 125 SSD (at £450 per drive) in a RAID 5 which slows things a pinch but gives you the safety of 1 drive worth of redundancy. Of course, you can downgrade to Seagate Ironwolf 4TB Hard drives (at £85 per drive) and save over £1500, but you will see a noticeable dip in performance of around 200-400MB/s (NAS dependant). So the choice is yours. Lastly, you will need a 10GBe interface on the machine(s) you are backing up from in order to maintain the 10GBe throughput (or alternatively just have the NAS on a 10GbE connection and the clients all on 1GbE with bandwidth being shared as appropriate). In total this will cost around £2400+ for the SSD based solution and just £900-1000 for the HDD solution. None of this is set in stone, of course, you can scale things in a number of ways, using bigger NAS solutions (i.e. more bays) or using multiple 10GbE connections in LAG/Trunked connections.

What do CalcTool.org have to say about 10GBe

CalcTool.org

The performance will largely be dictated by the distance of the backups, choice of HDD or SSD and types of files. However, over 10 Gigabit per second, in a perfect scenario – just over 2 hours. However this is a little optimistic and in practice, it will realistically weigh in closer to 3+ hours, as the complexity of the files (thousand so smaller emails and documents or fewer BIG media files, everyone is different). This of course is for the first few backups of a FULL 10 Terabytes of data. Later with incremental and ‘difference only’ backups, you will see times slashed heavily for the better.

The Cost of Thunderbolt 1, 2 or 3 Backup Solutions for 10TB of data

Fast becoming a connection of choice for photo and video editors in both the Mac and Windows community, Thunderbolt is the no-fuss connection that promises speed, without the technical nonsense. Much like before you can choose to go with SSD drives for supreme speed (at a hefty price tag) or HDD if you want to make economies. Below are the options best suited for a Thunderbolt 1 (although still legacy, still is in use), Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 Backups:

  • TB 1 DAS, 4-Bay, Cable, 4x 4TB SSD, RAID 5 enabled = £3000+ —- 2Hours + Backup time with SSD population / 3.5+ Hour for HDD Population
  • TB 2 DAS, 4-Bay, Cable, 4x 4TB SSD, RAID 5 enabled = £3500+ —-  1 Hour + Backup time with SSD population / 2-3+ Hour for HDD Population
  • TB 3 DAS, 4-Bay, Cable, 4x 4TB SSD, RAID 5 enabled = £4500+ —- 30-45min + Backup time with SSD population / 1.5 Hour for HDD Population

What do CalcTool.org have to say about Thunderbolt 1, 2 and 3

CalcTool.orgThunderbolt does not lose speed over distance, however, most conventional cables you can buy max out around 5 metres and the ones included with the above enclosures arrive at 1-1.8m. In a real-world scenario you can realistically double this length of time listed above in the initial backups. However, it will MASSIVELY improve with subsequent backups. With the exception of a few, most Thunderbolt backups arrive with only Thunderbolt ports, so in order to maintain the speed levels of this backup, you need to either ensure that it is connected to your centralised depositary via Thunderbolt, or if it’s backing up multiple devices, that they are using a good networking device, as Thunderbolt Direct attached storage only allows a single connected device at any one time.

The Price, Speed & Suitability LTO-7, LTO-8 and LTO-9 Tape Backup 10TB Solutions

In the case of LTO / tapes, this kind of storage for 10TB can be incredibly inefficient for an extra layer of storage. You can purchase much smaller 1 and 2 tape frames/storage devices, but for what you are paying and the overall accessibility for all machines involved, it isn’t great. If you were regularly backing up 5x or 10x this amount of storage, it would be a different story. Internal operations can be upto 1000MB/s with compressed data and 400MB for raw uncompressed data. SO unless you are synchronizing between two LTO tape loading machines, you will almost certainly use uncompressed. However these are internal operations and as we are discussing backing up from existing systems to a storage device, we have to focus on the external connection. Most likely 10GBe network or 12GB/s SAS will be the means of backing up to your tape device. But Cost is hard to pin – easily £2000-3000 and upwards, over at least two tapes (capacity differed at each LTO generation) etc. Most likely around over  1-3 hours transfer time, but hugely impractical at this scale and most likely much higher in practice. Definite a good option for those at the enterprise tier, but anything less will be squandering their budgets significant with a weak ROI.

The Best Value USB 3.2 Gen 2 Backup Solution for 10TB of data

The latest available version of USB, also known as USB 3.1 Gen 2, is easily the cheapest way to store a 10TB backup at a very respectable 10 Gb/s (comparable to Thunderbolt 1) speed. You will need to ensure that the connected device(s) that you are backing up too/from use the newer USB 3.1 Gen 2 port to ensure you do not get bottlenecked at 5 Gb/s, but this Highpoint 6124V RAID 5 enabled USB 2 Gen 2 DAS enclosure arrives at £350+ and if populated with either 4x 4TB SSD or 4x HDD (same price difference as before), RAID 5 enabled = £2100+ for an SSD Based solution and just £700+ for a HDD based version

What do CalcTool.org have to say about USB 3.1 Gen 2?

CalcTool.orgWith the best drives available you will have this 10TB localized backup over USB 3.1 Gen 2 finished in just over 2 hours. However taking system overheads into consideration, as well as the RAID 5 into account (something you could counter with a RAID 10 and 4x 6TB HDD perhaps) you are looking at between 2.5 and 3.5 hours completion. Additionally, a number of NAS Drive vendors have started implementing USB 3.2 Gen 2 in their systems, which means that a 10Gb/s USB DAS solution can be used as a means of creating a secondary backup by connecting it with your primary backup and running one of the many free backup/sync tools that NAS systems include with your purchase. Just remember that in order for this to be a truly safe 2nd tier backup, it cannot constantly reside in the same location as the primary backup.

Is Cloud Suitable as a 10TB Backup solution?

You may wonder why I have not suggested the cloud as a regular backup yet. It is certainly appealing. No parts are needed, just a healthy internet connection. You already have all the hardware you will need to establish this kind of synchronised backup – this should be by far the cheapest and easiest backup, right? Well yes and no. It IS cheap – in the short-term. Even if you take into account that your Business internet connection costs, from as little as £10 to £50 a month, reaching much higher once you consider fiber channelling, it is still pretty attractive. However you have to consider the time this backup will take and how it will affect the bandwidth throughout your business – otherwise, you will need to be conducted them overnight due to limit consumption. Some brands, such as Synology with their C2 platform, have rolled in an additional cloud service alongside their bare-metal solution. This is intended to be used as an alternative means of accessing an existing storage area that is synchronized with your NAS/local solution remotely (as well as benefiting from significantly easier remote access to data). NAS+Cloud can serve as a great 2-3/double backup option, as well as ensuring that your backups are in very different physical locations. Lastly, with intelligent caching and background synchronization between the NAS-THE CLOUD-CLIENT HARDWARE happening, a lot of the actual backing up can be hugely incremental and lessen the impact on the end-user, whether they are local to the NAS or remotely communicating with the C2 cloud (or 3rd party clouds such as Google Drive and Dropbox that are synced with the NAS). But what about the cloud on its own, not used in tandem with a NAS/Private server?

The first thing to factor in is the data being sent TO the cloud. Remember we are talking about Uploads, not downloads (downloads and a backup should only be considered during recovery, not day to day operations). Most internet services advertise incredible download speeds, but backups are almost exclusively upload based and upload speeds are normally a 10th or less than advertised download speeds. lastly, we can talk about costs. As although the initial costs are much less, let’s go for £50 a month for a dedicated high upload speed connection privately (closer to £500 for a business line) for your off-site backup. That is £600 a year. In 5 years, that is £3,000 (a cost that is the same or higher than most of the solutions discussed previously). The real kicker is that after those 5 years, you either have to continue paying to maintain this backup OR buy a suitable local storage drive to download it too – something you could have had ALREADY by going for the other solutions and thereby saving you thousands of pounds more.

I took the trouble of using the awesome tool at http://www.thecloudcalculator.com/ and if you have a 30Mbps upload speed (fairly respectable and the entry point outside of central city hubs). backing up 10TB initially would take  33 Days, 22 Hours, and 27 Minutes, 11 Seconds

That is horrendously long and you cannot just assume this is a one-off and negotiable with incremental backups and difference-only changes. You need a reliable and adaptive backup solution – not one that will do the job as long as you work within its limits. If you want to entertain the idea of a cloud-based backup of 10TB on a regular basis, we have to look into fiber and at least 2Gbps (so 2000 Megabits) to get to 12 hours for an overnight full backup (non-incremental). This is going to cost a small fortune and unless you intend to take advantage of this speed during the day-time, is a huge outlay for something that is not hugely accessible or reliable.

So, those are your options. Remember you are not limited to just ONE option and each of these solutions can be used in combinations, depending on your budget, physical environment, internet speeds or volume of client devices. In summary:

NAS BACKUPS USB DAS BACKUPS THUNDERBOLT BACKUPS TAPE BACKUPS CLOUD BACKUPS
Price (more ★ = Higher Price) ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★
Value (more ★ = more for your money) ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★
Scalability (more ★ = can grow more) ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★
Complexity (more ★ = more complex) ★★★★★ ★★★★
Speed (more ★ = faster) ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★
User/Usage Type Home & Business Home and Local Home and Local Enterprise Remote
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