Best NAS at $200
Just keep looking for the Intel SS4200!
It is a **great** box. It is very well built, solid, with a heavy duty case and two very quiet fans. Nice drive architecture/design. A little cumbersome at first, no hot swap, but I came to appreciate the "modular" way the drives slide in and are buffered from the case. Data serving is fast, as you have probably seen by comparing specs online.
There are a few odd things about the web UI - it could provide more information at times. At first it is a bit hard to tell exactly what the machine is doing at times, like when first initializing drives, etc. I was going to hack it and put WHS on it, or FreeNas, or OpenFiler, or even WinXP.
Then I found out how to log in to the box using SSH. I can easily log in using my wireless N connection from my laptops or any other boxes in the house. After exploring the box a bit I convinced myself that it is a very solid platform, stable, well designed and executed. (lots of log files, dump files available, etc.)
I dedcided to just use the box as-is, with the Intel installed software. Anything else is just going to cause me more work and management overhead - and headaches!
Right now it is a nice, quiet, shove-it-in-a-corner and forget it type box. It shuts down in about 15 seconds, boots up cleanly in about 1 minute, and goes about it's business exactly as designed.
If you aren't able to setup the box at first, there are 3 troubleshooting tips that may help:
1) Some boxes were tested at the factory with 2 or 4 drives. If you put in the oppoisite number - 2 for me - the machine will show a drive fault and not build the RAID properly when first set up. You jsut need to use the reset button on the back of the box to reset the configuration to default, per the Intel web site.
2) Norton firewall can block access from the web UI, even when entering the IP address directly. Shut it down for 15 minues, you will get access, etc.
3) On WinXP, I had to enable UPnP in network settings to see the drives via that route (web UI worked after the Norton fix.) Not sure whay they have so much intranet security on as dfefault in XP ...
The box does require an even number of drives, either 2 or 4. I am going to use the first box I bought with 4, 1 TB Hitachi drives as a media server. I will set it up as RAID 10, with a total of 3x900 = 2.7 TB of storage.
I bought that box for $265 shiped from Newegg with 2, 1 TB Hitachi drives included. The Hitachi were $65 each after a $10 rebate each. The net cost of the SS4200 box itself was $135, really a great price!
I just bought a second box today that I am going to use for online access to my digital photography files. I am going to start with a RAID 5 with 2, 1.5 TB Western Digital drives, for a total of 1.5TB mirrored. I will decide whether to keep it as a mirror, or add more space and use it as accessable storage with my true archive files remaining offline.
Bought that one as an "open box" for $95!! Very happy ...
I may buy a 3rd box to play with/hack. I wanted to set up a RAID 0 with another software platform, maybe FreeNAS, to see what kind of throughput I could get over a gigabit wired LAN. I also thought of just trying to hack their setup to enable RAID 0. Will see.
Sorry to go on, as you can see I really like this box! Base OS is Linux 2.6. It is loaded from a 256meg DOM - flash memory - with an IDE connector. The Intel web site has complete info on onstalling WHS, as some value-added resellers do.
Cheers! Have fun. Let me know if you come across any cheap copies of WHS!