Terra Times

We’re upgrading servers here at InGenius – something we do every few years, even if the old ones are working fine. We decided to try something a bit different this time round – maybe give a few dollars less to BillG and his gang… We decided on a 2TB NAS for our main data store instead of the ‘ole shared drives on our main server.
We ended up purchasing a 2TB Buffalo Terrastation – and here’s what we think about it…

Terra Station Pro

  • The hardware is a bit flimsy. It’s all plastic around the front, and it’s a bit brittle. The display is nice – though it only displays marginally useful info.
  • Setup was pretty easy – right out of the box, plug it in and it works.
  • It advertises AD support – but it’s REALLY lame. You can ONLY set AD permissions on directories in the root – so that directory, and all those below will have the same permissions. We had a rich set of permissions sprinkled throughout the directory tree – so we had to move directories around – so this is a big change in our workflow.
  • Directories in the root can only have 12 character names! This really sucks.
  • You can’t actually hot swap drives. You have to power down. Rats.
  • We bought a spare drive – the exact same model as is in use in the box, and did a few experiments – we removed a drive, and then powered the box up – all data was still available, and it emailed out a warning about the failure. Cool.
  • We plugged in the spare drive – it found it and commenced rebuilding the data on this drive. This took 8 hours, but all data was available at all times. Cool.
  • We haven’t figured out how to integrate external USB drives – not sure if this will be useful to us.
  • We called tech support re the AD issue – they were marginally helpful – not great, they couldn’t solve the issue of course – but not bad.

So would we buy it again? I’d have to say no. I think we’d hold out for a real solid, (expensive) NAS box running the storage version of Windows XP.

Update: May 30, 2007:

  • The device is continuing to work OK, but not without it’s foibles. It requires the user to press a button to turn it on – so if your power goes out, and the UPS fails, the Terrastation doesn’t come back up. You have to manually start it. Then, it takes about 15 hours to test and rebuild the drives. The system is usable this whole time. We’re at 9% capacity.
  • The date and time settings are a bit odd. You can get the date and time right, but not using the default NTP source. We had to fuss with this quite a bit since the dates and times are critical to our build process.
  • The partial AD support is a real pain. This keeps causing us issues.
  • A drive actually failed! Luckily we had our spare, popped it in, and everything kept going fine.
  • The drive’s nickname at our company is”TerrorStation” – gives you some idea of the faith we have in it. We are backing this thing up like crazy!
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  1. DST Upgrade - not quite smooth « InGeniusBlog.com - March 12, 2007
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