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Author Topic: Reliability in wireless environment  (Read 11363 times)

sdhome

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Reliability in wireless environment
« on: September 05, 2008, 07:14:25 AM »

I previously purchased two 500GB Ximeta NDAS drives only to find out they don't work over a wireless network (ie, computer crashes on initial access). They do work on USB interface or with wired PC, but that is not the environment I purchased them for. I wish to setup a home network with dual 500GB drives attached to my Linksys WRT54gs router and two wireless Vista PCs performing nightly backups to the NAS drives. Can anyone with actual operating experience using the DNS-321's in a wireless environment tell me how they work?
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fordem

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2008, 01:19:59 PM »

I could be wrong but I believe I've seen this question in another forum about another storage device :)

My experience is with the DNS-323, the first of D-Link's 2-drive NAS units rather than this one, and according to DLink the difference between the two is that one has a USB print server and the other doesn't, so my experience should be relevant as far as reliability goes.

It's going to depend on how stable (or reliable) your wireless network is.  If you have a robust wireless network, you'll be able to use the NAS over it with no difficulty, albiet somewhat slowly - on the other hand, if your wireless network is ****e to errors and disconnects, you'll wish you never bought it.

Now - as a disclaimer - the above holds true (in my experience) for any network storage device regardless of brand or model, for the most part I've been very happy with my DLink DNS-323 and my use of it over wireless, whilst not very frequent (due to the speed) has been problem free ever since I replaced the Intel 2100a wireless card that appeared to work quite well but in fact had an extremely high receive error rate.

Why am I pointing this out?

Because a wireless network that allows you to surf the net with no problem, may not allow you to use a network storage device (this or any other one) without crashing.

If you're going to use networked storage, your network is going to be the prime factor in determining the general usability of the storage device.
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RAID1 is for disk redundancy - NOT data backup - don't confuse the two.

sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2008, 04:26:59 PM »

Thanks fordem. That's exactly the feedback I was looking for. Both our wireless Windows Vista laptops are within 10-12 feet of our Linksys WRT54gs (running DD-WRT) so I'm hoping the wireless network is very robust.  I'm wondering if there is a built-in or 3rd party tool that can report error rates? Otherwise, I'm not sure how to determine robustness. By the way, the Ximeta (Klegg) drives would cause computer to crash upon opening Windows Explorer. One never had the chance to transfer data!

Are you saying the 323 came out before the 321? Since I don't need the print driver (we have a wireless all-in-one printer), I can purchase the 321 and save a bit of money. I see that buy.com is selling it for $99 after rebate. How does that sound?
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jswashburn

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2008, 06:01:44 PM »

Honestly, it depends on where you live and what devices are around you that will impact Wi-Fi connectivity. For example, if you live in an apartment complex or work in a down-town city, forget it! Because there will be so many Wi-Fi routers around you (including micro-wave ovens, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, and crappy florescent light ballasts), the radio spectrum that it uses will be crowded airspace. Even if you're 10ft from it, expect a spotty connection such as being dropped and having packet loss. However, if you live in the country with the occasional house here and there...it might be flawless.

My recommendation is to do away with Wi-Fi all together when making large data transfers. Just wire up with CAT5 to router and/or switch and be done with it.

If you're really determined to stick with Wi-Fi and willing to spend a few hundred bucks to troubleshoot your wireless woes; look into the Wi-Spy products over at MetaGeek. http://www.metageek.net/products/ But between us, I think Wireless was invented by Satan himself. I detest this technology!
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sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2008, 07:34:32 PM »

Interesting. Thanks for the response. I don't have several hundred dollars to spend, but I do have time to search for free programs! They look like spectrum analyzers. There must be some free ones out there although probably without all the bells & whistles.

We live in an RV which moves from RV park to RV park. A few other RVers may be using wireless routers and most parks have Hotspots these days. For example our present park operates on channel 3 so we set our router to channel 11. The Hotspot is so strong that it's signal strength (and quality) is nearly as strong as our own much closer router. We were hoping that the channel separation would be sufficient to avoid significant interference. What I would really like is a tool that measures error rates. We don't have any flourescent lights in the RV so hopefully that's not a problem. Also, we will schedule backups for the middle of the night so random lights and microwaves should not be a big issue.
 
With respect to the wired option, neither laptop is permanently located. We store them away when not in use. Also, it is difficult if not impossible to route cables in an invisible way. This is why the WiFi is a very so desirable.
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jswashburn

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2008, 10:21:30 PM »

I've only worked with B, G, and A Wi-Fi equipment. But I've heard that the draft N standard is supposed to be more forgiving with packet loss prevention. If your not using draft N, you might want to think about going this route being that Wi-Fi is your only option.

I used to use NetStumbler back in the day to catalog all of the Wireless devices around me. But you might want to check out inSSIDer. It's a free alternative to NetStumbler that interfaces with the standard Windows wireless API. Basically, it will work with Vista and below. You can get it here http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider. Good luck  :)
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sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2008, 04:53:49 AM »

Thanks jswashburn. I tried Inssider. It's a nice program and does show graphically the relative strength of other APs. As you know, it doesn't show interference from other sources. Apparently those programs require a piece of hardware you plug into a USB port. Guess it makes sense that your WiFi network adapter can't sense random interference.

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sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2008, 12:33:48 PM »

I'm looking to purchase the DNS-321 but have the following questions (and D-link is closed today):
  1. Is the fan thermally controlled or always on?
  2. Type of disk format and any limitations on maximum file size?
  3. Any performance differences between DNS-321 and 323?
  4. Is a driver required for each PC needing access?
  5. Is it Linux-based?
  6. Can it be interfaced directly to PC if desired?
Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2008, 12:47:20 PM by sdhome »
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fordem

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2008, 02:47:06 PM »

As I mentioned I have the DNS-323....

1 - fan speed is thermally controlled - I'm not certain if it actually stops, but it certainly changes speed.
2 - ext2 and I have no idea on the maximum file size - largest I've written is >60GB (an Acronis TrueImage backup)
3 - I'll skip this one
4 - no driver required for Windows systems - it uses CIFS/SMB protocols
5 - yes
6 - no - but....

A Windows system does not natively read/write the linux ext2 file system - however it is possible to connect a disk to a USB/SATA bridge and connect it to a Windows XP system running the ext2ifs installable file system driver and get access to the data - but I'm told this can be problematic with Vista, I know it works well with XP, but I have not personally tried it with Vista.
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RAID1 is for disk redundancy - NOT data backup - don't confuse the two.

sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2008, 05:15:18 PM »

Thanks fordem. That's great information. With respect to my last question I was actually referring to interfacing the DNS-321 to PC. I think you were responding to interfacing a SATA drive to the PC (which is also of interest). I believe that one can connect the DNS-321 directly to PC via Ethernet provided the PC is set to the subnet of the DNS-321. Is that correct? I also use Acronis True Image and as with you, it tends to create my largest files. This would be a problem with the FAT32 format which is limited to 4GB, but apparently not with EXT2.

You have probably seen these two interesting articles about the DNS-323 and DNS-321:
   http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30521/75/
   http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30520/79/

The articles show photos of the PC boards for each NAS. I can't understand why the 323 PC board looks almost vacant and the 321 looks crowded? My only thought is that the 323 uses higher integration and more expensive chips and the 321 was an attempt to cost reduce and they went with lower integration and cheaper chips? I'm taking it on faith that the performance is comparable.

By the way, I went ahead and ordered the DNS-321 from Buy.com. They had it for $128.99 with free shipping minus a 5% coupon and $30 mail-in rebate. The net price after coupon and rebate was about $92.

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sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2008, 07:26:47 AM »

I found a review article comparing the performance of the D-link DNS-321 to the 323 and the much more expensive Netgear ReadyNAS Duo:
    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/conte.../30521/75/1/4/

I'm embarassed to say I discovered the article after I made my purchase decision. Please note that the article has several parts and you use a pull-down menu at the end to access each part. Fortunately, the article concludes that the DNS-321 offers a very good price/performance.
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fordem

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2008, 07:40:34 AM »

sdhome - yes - you can connect these devices directly to the ethernet port on your laptop, the onboard ethernet is gigabit which will automatically detect and "crossover" transmit & receive pairs as required, you may need to set static ip addressing, or enable the DHCP server on the NAS (the DNS-323 has one, I've seen nothing to indicate that this was omitted on the DNS-321.

My previous answer was worded that way as I assumed you were more iterested in connecting via USB as can be done with the Ximeta drives - I see no significant advantage in a direct connection as against going via the router/switch, assuming a gigabit network (which is what I have).
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RAID1 is for disk redundancy - NOT data backup - don't confuse the two.

sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2008, 07:57:16 AM »

Thanks fordem. Yes, the direct connection you desribed via Ethernet is what I had hoped (assumed) would be possible. Since the wireless backup is not guaranteed to work (as discussed above) I have some fallbacks:
  1. Connect DNS-321 directly to PC via Ethernet
  2. Run CAT5 cable from PC to router temporarily for wired network connection

I'm not sure I see the advantage of converting DNS-321 to USB as opposed to the direct Ethernet connection which could be done without any additional hardware. By the way, my laptop only supports Fast Ethernet as opposed to Gigabit so I suppose USB-2 would offer a speed advantage. After consideration, I agree that option 2 above would be the most convenient overall.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 06:38:21 AM by sdhome »
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sdhome

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Re: Reliability in wireless environment
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2008, 06:58:19 AM »

I discovered that my Linksys WRT54gs running DD-WRT firmware reports error rate for both transmit and receive. When I reboot the router it resets the counts. This should be an excellent way to determine how robust my wireless network is although it won't tell me what's causing the errors. Also, this firmware allows me to set power level which may also be a useful variable.
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