NAS – Network Attached Storage

I’ll tell you a bit about that one here.  NAS (Network attached storage).  I had a file server, a huge beast of a machine that was the size of a smart car that had it’s own room (closet) in my house with yes it’s own a/c unit.  Seriously I kid you not.  My husband was a network engineer and I was a software developer.  It made sense to have a server in our house.  But he died and I don’t do hardware or servers or networks or ip…oh my don’t ask me to fix an ip problem, and eventually I decided I didn’t want to pay to run a 3rd a/c unit in the Texas summer so I shut it down.  But what to do with all that data.  As a database person I cannot delete data.  Also I was considering taking the kids on the road for an extended period of time.  How to access those files?  Have a friend host it so I can remote into it?  That didn’t seem right.  Enter the NAS.  My first NAS was  Buffalo and it failed.  And when it failed it failed big.  You see the NAS drive is one box about a foot deep about 6 inches high and maybe 4 inches wide.  Small enough to find a home in my RV as long it gets air it will live.  Don’t box it in.  It needs to breath or it will overheat.  But this box holds four hard drives.  In my NAS we have 16 Tb.  But we use a RAID system (this is about as hard drive techie as I get) and there are multiple RAID setups.  I chose one where it takes all my data and what they call stripes it across the drives.  So let’s say I have a file.  In it’s 1’s and 0’s way it will take that file and it will put 1/3rd of it on one drive 1/3rd of it on another drive and 1/3rd of it on a third drive and then put something else on that fourth drive.  Now this is where my eyes glaze over and I’m sure I’m not explaining it quite accurately but it puts enough of the file spread across the drives that if one drive ever fails then it will automatically get the information it needs from the other 3 drives and can rebuild the missing data.   This is supposed to be the safest way to store you data.  You can mirror it with another RAID setting so that when a file is written it writes to TWO drives and one drive is an exact duplicate of the other.  We tried that on our server and I hated it and it never worked like it was supposed to.  We lost data.  So I am using the striped method.  I don’t get all 16 Tb of storage because of that striping.  It does reduce my useable space.  But seriously I have SIXTEEN TERABYTES of data storage.  I’m not even halfway to filling it.  Now in theory the NAS people will tell you that one drive will fail and your NAS will alert you that the drive is bad, you buy a new drive put it in and let it rebuild and it will rebuild that new fourth drive with the data it has and no data loss.  But my Buffalo drive well it decided that TWO drives were going to fail at the same time.  Actually I think there was a problem in the electronic power source.  After spending an entire day with a very patient man who ran a computer store in I think it was Oregon who let me use his PC to research and who helped me do a lot of testing and wouldn’t let me pay him and even an hour on the phone with Buffalo support and the drive wouldn’t rebuild.  Nada.  It just wouldn’t work.  I was devastated as the only thing on there that hadn’t been backed up somewhere else was our home videos.  I had been backing up our videos but hadn’t finished and we went kayaking in an ice cave in Alaska and we had the coolest video inside an ice cave and it was gone.  Nothing would bring it back.  But I don’t give up easily. I tried to boot that drive every few days and it refused to budge.  One day, however, with a lot of prayer and pleading with God it booted.  No one knows how or why but it came up one last time and our data was by some miracle still there.  I quickly copied off those videos and anything I thought wasn’t already in existence somewhere else and I thanked the good Lord for letting us save those memors.  So I don’t trust Bufflo any longer although they have a good reputation in the industry.


Fortunately the drive had an extended warranty but unfortunately I bought it at a Fryes.  Now Fryes has it’s purpose but their extended warranty is not the best.  But alas I had about $500 invested in that Buffalo Nas so I went ahead and bought it’s replacement at Fryes with another extended warranty.  This time I bought a Western Digital.  WD has it’s good and bad.  This drive is supposed to have the top of the line business class hard drives in it.  So good.  No problems yet.  It has had some errors and I’ve seen it rebuild the drive.


Now the NAS in the RV you might be asking.  I think I erred with the Buffalo NAS and I should have shut it down more often than I did.  I might have left it on by accident while travelling a time or two.  NAS drives probably should NOT be on while the vehicle is in motion.  Those heads bouncing around can be really bad so we have a child in charge of making sure the NAS is shut down and the router turned off before travel.  I also think that RV parks are notorious for not having enough power.  Sure it says you get 50 amps but sometimes you don’t.  Even though our RV has an inverter and a power management system that takes what is coming and and makes sure we don’t get spikes and manages all that I still think at times we aren’t getting enough power to run everything .  I added the smallest battery backup I could find to our system just to power the NAS.  That way it gets the right power it has not only the spike protector on the RV, and the power distribution management system but it also has a battery backup to protect it.  If something spikes that thing we’d all be fried any way and not care.  It isn’t enough battery to actually power the NAS for any length of time unlike at home where my server back ups could power the entire server for at least an hour maybe two before you had to shut it down and we had another battery backups downstairs powering the television and entertainment systems so we could watch tv for at least 30 minutes during a power outage this little backup is just to give me time to shut the NAS down gracefully in the event of a power outage but it’s more to make sure the power going to the NAS is even and consistent and so far the Western Digital has been performing like a champ.

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