DIY NAS from D-Link
D-Link's new DNS-343 BYOD (Bring Your Own Disks) Network-Attached Storage (NAS) server is now available, the company's first four-drive NAS box. It complements the existing similar two-drive model, the DNS-323, and the more basic DNS-321, with no USB port.
The DNS-343 has slots for tool-free installation of up to four SATA disks, a Gigabit Ethernet interface and a USB 2 port, which can either connect to an uninterrutable power supply (UPS) or a share a USB printer with the network. The DNS-343 also has a built-in display which can not only display device information but also disk utilization.
The NAS can drive the disks in several ways – as a JBOD array (Just a Bunch of Drives), RAID 0, RAID 1 or RAID 5. As well as the integrity features, D-Link's NAS offers a built-in FTP server, UPnP (Universal Plug'n'Play) and iTunes streaming-media servers and user authentication via Microsoft Active Directory. It also supports drive power management. Memeo software is provided for backup and D-Link Easy Search for setup.
The DNS-343 is managed remotely via a web browser, but in an unusual move, D-Link has an emulator of the device's web interface on its site, so that prospective purchasers can test-drive the GUI in advance.
D-Link is a well-known name in SOHO networking but not so well known in the SOHO NAS market yet, which is currently dominated by vendors such as Buffalo and Thecus. NAS boxes are increasing in popularity – for small peer-to-peer networks and workgroups, they require less setup and management than a dedicated server, and they have attractions even for standalone users. Apart from being an easy way to share data between a conventional PC and a laptop, in theory, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) offers better performance than USB2 or Firewire. Like most such devices, the DNS-343 runs an embedded version of Linux on its Marvell ARM9 processor and formats its disks using the Linux ext2 filesystem, thus bypassing the 2 Terabyte volume size limit of Windows XP and Vista.
Although the Linux system in the DNS-343 is quite limited, the same "fun_plug" third-party addin from the two-drive models works on the newer machines, opening up an SSH shell, a web server, time server, NFS support and Rsync.
Although there is no mention of anything other than Windows XP and Vista in the product's documentation, as drives are shared with the standard Windows SMB protocol, it should be perfectly usable from older versions of Windows, Mac OS X, Linux or any other recent operating system.
The DNS-343 should be generally available from November for £400 or less.