Asustor Lockerstor 2, Lockerstor 4 review: Quiet, speedy network storage for your Mac or i...

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in General Discussion edited July 20
You probably don't have enough on-device storage space on your Mac, and it's probably not that much different on your iPhone or iPad. This is fixable across your network or over the Internet with the solid Asustor Lockerstor 2 and Lockerstor 4 network attached storage devices.

The Asustor Lockerstor 2 is a compact NAS for your network.
The Asustor Lockerstor 2 is a compact NAS for your network.


Is there anybody left that has only one computer? We're increasingly living in a world where data storage needs are escalating, and not everything is best stored in the cloud.

We like home servers, and we like the Mac mini for that task. But we also very much appreciate network attached storage devices (NAS). They are the ultimate storage appliances, in that we can sit it on a shelf, and just let it serve files.

But, modern NAS devices can do so much more, and the Asustor Lockerstor 2 and Lockerstor 4 are no exception.

The Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 network-attached storage appliances are an expansion of the company's range from the larger LockerStor 10 and LockerStor 8, with the new units aimed at the prosumer NAS market. As the name suggests, the LockerStor 2 and 4 have two and four drive bays, respectively, but there's more to the story than drive bays alone.

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 - Key Specifications

Asustor Lockerstor 2Asustor Lockerstor 4
Drive bays4x3.5-inch SATA 3,
2xM.2 PCIe NVMe
4x3.5-inch SATA 3,
2xM.2 PCIe NVMe
Capacity36TB72TB
Claimed drive read/write speeds588MB/s Read, 583MB/s Write591MB/s Read, 590MB/s Write
Internal disk formatsEXT4, BTRFSEXT4, BTRFS
External disk formatsFAT32, NTFS, EXT3, EXT4, HFS+, exFAT, BTRFSFAT32, NTFS, EXT3, EXT4, HFS+, exFAT, BTRFS
RAID supportSingle Disk, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1Single Disk, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10
Memory4GB, expandable to 8GB4GB, expandable to 8GB
ProcessorIntel Celeron J4125
quad-core 2.0GHz
Intel Celeron J4125
quad-core 2.0GHz
Ports3xUSB 3.2 Gen 1
2x2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
HDMI 2.0a
3xUSB 3.2 Gen 1
2x2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
HDMI 2.0a
Power consumption15.9W Operation
9.2W Disk Hibernation
0.66W Sleep Mode
27.6W Operation
12.6W Disk Hibernation
0.75W Sleep Mode
Idle noise17.7dB17.6dB
Dimensions6.4x4.3x9 inches7.3x6.7x9 inches
Weight4.4 pounds6.52 pounds

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 -- Design and dimensions

Of the two, the four-bay is the physically larger device, measuring 7.3 inches tall and 6.7 inches wide versus the 6.4-inch height and 4.3-inch width of the two-bay version. Both measure 9 inches in length.

Only part of the physical difference is down to needing to house more drives. The LockerStor 4 has an additional LCD panel above the drive bays, which is used to provide data like status updates or the current IP of the device.

With more drive space, the Lockerstor4 can hold even more data.
With more drive space, the Lockerstor4 can hold even more data.


This is a nice addition in environments where the NAS is present in the room, though far less useful for anyone who stores their NAS out of the way and remotely manages it.

The two models share similar design aesthetics, with the drive bays in the front along with interface buttons and LED status indicators and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port in the bottom-left corner.

The back has the remaining ports of the NAS, the power connector, and the cooling fan.

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 -- Drive capacity and RAID options

Each bay can handle up to an 18 terabyte drive, giving the LockerStor 2 up to 36 terabytes of capacity, rising to 72 terabytes on the LockerStor 4. As the drive trays on both models are sized for 3.5-inch drives, they are compatible with both desktop hard drives plus 2.5-inch mechanical drives and SSDs.

Both units can take 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard drives and SSDs.
Both units can take 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard drives and SSDs.


This is only the capacity for the built-in storage. Asustor sells expansion units that can allow the servers to handle higher drive counts. The LockerStor 2 can handle up to 14 drive bays at a maximum, while the LockerStor 4 can deal with 16 drives.

Taking drive bay expansion into account brings the total raw capacities up to 252TB and 288TB, respectively.

The file system support is the same on both NAS units, with internal drives formatted in EXT4 or BTRFS. External disks can use FAT32, NTFS, EXT3, EXT4, HFS+, exFAT, and BTRFS.

With more drives, the four-bay model offers more RAID options as well. Both offer single disk, JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1 volume types, with the larger model adding in RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10 for good measure. Both also include support for "hot" RAID level migration if such maintenance is required.

With chunky sleds that include a lockable element, drives in the Lockerstor 4 will be quite safe.
With chunky sleds that include a lockable element, drives in the Lockerstor 4 will be quite safe.


To help achieve faster speeds, there is space to fit in a pair of M.2 NVMe drives into each NAS. The M.2 drives are theoretically used for caching files for faster access and faster file receipt from hosts rather than for storage capacity.

Asustor claims the LockerStor 2 can read at speeds of up to 588MB per second and write speeds of 583MB per second. The LockerStor 4 is said to be capable of marginally faster speeds, at 591MB per second for reads, 590MB per second for writes.

We never got these speeds across the network and we're not sure why the company claims them -- but speed limitations have more to do with the capability of Gigabit and 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet networks. On a wired 10-gig network, with both a SATA SSD RAID, and a hard drive RAID, we saw about 285 megabytes per second read and write on the 2.5-Gig network, and 120 megabytes per second on the Gigabit network -- and about the same with a NVMe SSD for caching installed.

Those dual 2.5G Ethernet ports on the back can potentially shift a lot of data across your network.
Those dual 2.5G Ethernet ports on the back can potentially shift a lot of data across your network.


We do have the hardware to test the link aggregation, and saw about 355 megabytes per second read and write. However, in most prosumer or SOHO networks, link aggregation is either difficult to set up, or problematic from a network managing standpoint, so most won't see these speeds.

Neither unit has a PCI-E slot for a future 10-gig expansion.

And in regards to fan speed and noise, at idle from three feet away with no intervening material that could mask the sound, the unit runs at about 34 dBA. During the file copy in a 71F office and hard drives installed we had a 44 dBA noise level. This dropped to 41 dBA with just SSDs installed.

While completely slept with either SSDs installed or hard drives sleeping, the unit consumes about 0.4 watts. Under full load with a full four SSD install, it consumes about 25 watts. Loaded with four hard drives and getting slammed with input and output, it was taking 61 watts.

The two-bay unit drew commensurately less power at 15 watts under load, and 32 watts with two hard drives, under load.

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 - Ports and connectivity

The speed to access data on drives is only part of the equation, with the need to get that data to user's computers being the other half. The LockerStor 2 and 4 have a pair of 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back to meet that.

Each port can handle 2.5Gbps networking, as well as lower gigabit and 100Mbps speeds if needed. In cases where compatible hardware is on hand, the two LAN ports can also be combined using link aggregation, producing up to 5Gbps of bandwidth in ideal conditions.

While it uses a small fan, the back of the Lockerstor 2 proudly displays a great port selection.
While it uses a small fan, the back of the Lockerstor 2 proudly displays a great port selection.


A trio of USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports are available, with two on the back and one on the front allowing external drives to be connected, shared on the network, or to quickly transferring files from a portable drive for safekeeping.

An HDMI 2.0a port is also available, allowing you to connect up an external display directly to the NAS. This offers some extra benefits, such as locally managing the device instead of over the network or viewing stored video directly if the NAS is hooked up to a living room television.

And, given the unit's app-centric nature which we will speak about more in a bit, there are freely downloadable apps for Amazon Video, Disney+ and more.

It's not a fantastic player with us experiencing some full-minute lags on scrubbing even locally stored content, nor does it have the best interface, but it is pretty good for simple playback. It's nice to have convenient local storage adjacent to your television for warehoused video so you don't always have to reach out to the Internet to watch something, if you have the file handy.

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 -- Processing power

Powering the LockerStor 2 and 4 is the same Intel Celeron J4125 processor, a quad-core chip with a 2.0GHz base clock speed and 2.7GHz under Turbo Boost. Asustor claims the Gemini Lake chip is 30% faster than Apollo Lake equivalents and has a higher 4MB of onboard cache, making it a powerful chip for use in a NAS.

Supporting the Celeron is 4GB of DDR4 memory as a SO-DIMM. As Asustor uses only one memory module but included two slots, a user could add an extra 4GB stick to bring it up to the maximum supported memory of 8GB, which will help performance in applications but not in file transfers.

The processing power and RAM out of the box is more than enough for file management and transfer, and a single expansion app. But, given the results of our trials with multiple, we feel that if you're using more than one or two apps on the unit, especially something beefy like Docker, get the extra RAM.

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 -- Setup, apps, and mobile connectivity

Setting up the unit is easy. It is a browser-based process, and if you can read this text, you can manage the setup. Drives are also formatted in the browser, and limitations for users are set up here as well.

Like most modern network attached storage devices, the LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 are powerful computers in their own rights. To fully leverage that power, there are installable apps to expand the capabilities of the unit.

Conventional apps include an FTP server, a Download Center for managing automated downloads including Bittorrent, an FTP server, VPN server, connectivity with various cloud storage services, antivirus, and photo storage.

Heading towards specialized territory, Docker is available, and there's a Linux Center to install Linux on the NAS. Plus, amongst others, there's Virtualbox, a mail server, a surveillance center supporting up to 40 camera channels in a single live view, and servers for SNMP, Radius, and Syslog.

Time Machine support is native to the ASUS software, and is a matter of a few checkboxes clicked for one or multiple users, assuming that discrete users have been set up for everyone who wishes to back up to the device.

Beyond the media players we discussed earlier, for local media serving, it has SoundsGood for storing a user's personal music collection, a UPnP Media Server, and the LooksGood video server with transcoding capabilities.

Apple ecosystem users will benefit from LooksGood's video playback support on the Apple TV using AiVideos for tvOS. An iTunes server is also available with AirPlay and iOS Remote Pairing support.

Beyond video playback -- and even Minecraft play -- the HDMI port can also display video from the Asustor Portal, which hosts an interface for its various apps and services, such as viewing four IP cameras. Links are available for various online services, viewable via the built-in Chromium browser.

Users of the iPad, iPhone, and other mobile platforms aren't completely left out. The AiData app allows users to open and browse files on the devices. Additionally, built-in sharing tools in the app generate shared links for others, either on the local network or across the internet.

The app isn't fantastic, and there is no native Files app integration with it -- but you can connect to the NAS on your local network with Files as you normally would. However, using the app, you can share a file to yourself in an email, and then open the file in the email with whatever handles that file format on your iPhone.

But for a simple photo browser or media preview tool, it's adequate for the task.

Asustor LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 -- solid, quiet, and reliable

We've been using both the LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4 in parallel for many months now. Both units have proven to be reliable, have shaken off power outages flawlessly, and have recovered from failed drives well.

While we prefer out Apple TV hardware to the LockerStor, the unit was never designed to be a fully standalone player, and the added functionality is nice to have. It would even be great to load up video, and drag it along to a vacation that seems to always have terrible connectivity, to keep watching your ripped DVD collection, or similar.

We like both the LockerStor 2 and LockerStor 4. We aren't fans of a two-bay network attached storage device just on principle because of a lack of a total capacity, but we wholeheartedly recommend the LockerStor 4 for just about anybody that reads AppleInsider of any skill level, for home or small office network storage needs.

Pros
  • Quiet and cool storage

  • Low maintenance

  • Native Time Machine support, and a wide app array for other needs

  • Easy browser-based configuration that can be as easy or complex as necessary
Cons:
  • The iPhone app is adequate, but not great

  • Two bays is not enough, so buy the four-bay one instead

  • If you get heavily into additional apps on-device, you will need more RAM

  • The M.2 drives - if installed - aren't cooled very well

Scoring

Both units are incredibly solid and should serve you well for many years to come. And, so far, Asustor's support for the unit is pretty good. We feel that there's not enough room for expansion in the two-bay model, and as such, give that model a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

However, the four-bay model is a different story. Sufficient storage, more than enough power, and quiet. We give the LockerStor 4 a 4.5 out of 5.

Overall score: 4 out of 5

Where to Buy

The Lockerstor 2, model AS6602T, retails for $399 at Amazon.

The four-bay Lockerstor 4, model AS6604T sells for $549, also at Amazon.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,565member
    I got myself a Synology DS220+ which is similar as the 2-bay, $299. I love the thing. Time Machine, Plex, a dropbox-like syncing app (with shareable links the way I wish iCloud would do), CCTV…it’s a sweet device. I sync a portion of my data back to my Mac where Backblaze picks it up and stores a couple in the cloud. 
    edited July 17 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    OctoMonkeyOctoMonkey Posts: 208member
    I got myself a Synology DS220+ which is similar as the 2-bay, $299. I love the thing. Time Machine, Plex, a dropbox-like syncing app (with shareable links the way I wish iCloud would do), CCTV…it’s a sweet device. I sync a portion of my data back to my Mac where Backblaze picks it up and stores a couple in the cloud. 
    I am still running an Xserve with an external fibre array.  The Xserve does everything I need (mostly Plex & backups) and the external array offers more storage than these smaller devices (currently 128TB).  It works well, but I have been considering switching to a larger (QNAP) SAN box.  Improved performance per watt (and lower overall power consumption) and more up to date applications in a single device all appeal to me.  A big factor holding me back is my investment in hardware.  Two Xserves (primary and backup) along with a test Xserve and three fibre arrays (not counting my old Xserve RAID which does not offer enough storage).  It seems to me I would need to get two SAN boxes so I would have a backup and the larger (12+ drive) SAS SANs are not cheap.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    I got myself a Synology DS220+ which is similar as the 2-bay, $299. I love the thing. Time Machine, Plex, a dropbox-like syncing app (with shareable links the way I wish iCloud would do), CCTV…it’s a sweet device. I sync a portion of my data back to my Mac where Backblaze picks it up and stores a couple in the cloud. 
    Thank you for weighing in with your perspective on that product because it’s definitely on my short list for a personal NAS that fits into a defense-in-depth approach to backups. The use cases you are describing are nearly identical to the ones that I have to satisfy. I would definitely set it up in a RAID 1 configuration with a pair of decent sized NAS drives (10 TB), like Seagate Iron Wolf (Pro) or WD Red. Of course once you populate the DS200+ with a pair of sizable drives, it’s no longer a $299 investment, but that’s a given. The cost of data loss can easily dwarf whatever you spend up front on a backup solution.

    I still plan to keep individual drives attached to individual computers for making CCC bootable full system backups, which is a different use case. Fortunately, the makers of CCC support a family licensing model.

    It would be nice to see some more Apple focused product comparisons on AppleInsider. Yes, some of these products like NAS and home networking, are reviewed on other sites. However, these reviews are rarely laser focused on things that are unique to Apple products and services, like Time Machine, interoperability with iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Photos, compatibility with APFS, T2, etc. Some of these Apple specific “subtleties” can be show stoppers when it comes to using products in an Apple centric (or mixed) environment. Falling back on Amazon, NewEgg, Walmart, etc., buyer reviews do not leave me with the same level of confidence that reviews on AppleInsider would provide.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Mike, good overall review. I think you missed one major aspect of this, though, except for a tiny mention at the end: ongoing support.

    This is a serious issue because a device like this requires serious LONG-TERM support. For an example of how this sort of product can go wrong, look no further than last week's news about zillions of WD My Book devices being remote wiped due to security flaws not being patched.

    This device runs a Linux OS whether you install a fully accessible interface to it or not, and a pile of app code on top of that. Over time flaws will be discovered, and probably (if the devices gain any traction in the market) exploited. Will Asus support it long-term? I have no idea. They make a LOT of things, most of them of good quality and a few not, but supporting their own distro of Linux - which is effectively what we're talking about here - is a whole new thing for them. I'd be cautious.

    That doesn't mean you should always buy Synology instead. But it would be a big factor in any decision I'd make about this sort of gear. (Though in general, I'd build my own - I'm not exactly their target market.) And thus I think it should have been a bigger part of the review. What's their track record with these devices? How long have they been in the market? What's the support like? Do they have any track record with other software-heavy products? Etc.
    edited July 18 dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    Mike, good overall review. I think you missed one major aspect of this, though, except for a tiny mention at the end: ongoing support.

    This is a serious issue because a device like this requires serious LONG-TERM support. For an example of how this sort of product can go wrong, look no further than last week's news about zillions of WD My Book devices being remote wiped due to security flaws not being patched.

    This device runs a Linux OS whether you install a fully accessible interface to it or not, and a pile of app code on top of that. Over time flaws will be discovered, and probably (if the devices gain any traction in the market) exploited. Will Asus support it long-term? I have no idea. They make a LOT of things, most of them of good quality and a few not, but supporting their own distro of Linux - which is effectively what we're talking about here - is a whole new thing for them. I'd be cautious.

    That doesn't mean you should always buy Synology instead. But it would be a big factor in any decision I'd make about this sort of gear. (Though in general, I'd build my own - I'm not exactly their target market.) And thus I think it should have been a bigger part of the review. What's their track record with these devices? How long have they been in the market? What's the support like? Do they have any track record with other software-heavy products? Etc.

    Great point about support. Another player in this same exact market, QNAP, suffered a serious ransomware attack in April of this year. Nobody is immune from security threats, but having an active support team in place that can respond quickly may help to limit the damage. This would be true for non-security issues as well, i.e., how quickly does the product maker respond to software and firmware bugs in general.

    One challenge of course is whether independent product reviewers can accurately assess the quality of long term product support provided by the manufacturer of these devices, or any device in general. Track record, market longevity, and market position are fine, but with some products you don't really know if a "clean" track record means that you've been very good because you're proactively testing and stressing your product or you've simply been lucky and nobody has tried to topple your house of cards - yet. But I agree that even a reputational and qualitative assessment is better than nothing if you're lacking a good way to do a quantitative assessment.
    leehammwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,257administrator
    dewme said:
    Mike, good overall review. I think you missed one major aspect of this, though, except for a tiny mention at the end: ongoing support.

    This is a serious issue because a device like this requires serious LONG-TERM support. For an example of how this sort of product can go wrong, look no further than last week's news about zillions of WD My Book devices being remote wiped due to security flaws not being patched.

    This device runs a Linux OS whether you install a fully accessible interface to it or not, and a pile of app code on top of that. Over time flaws will be discovered, and probably (if the devices gain any traction in the market) exploited. Will Asus support it long-term? I have no idea. They make a LOT of things, most of them of good quality and a few not, but supporting their own distro of Linux - which is effectively what we're talking about here - is a whole new thing for them. I'd be cautious.

    That doesn't mean you should always buy Synology instead. But it would be a big factor in any decision I'd make about this sort of gear. (Though in general, I'd build my own - I'm not exactly their target market.) And thus I think it should have been a bigger part of the review. What's their track record with these devices? How long have they been in the market? What's the support like? Do they have any track record with other software-heavy products? Etc.

    Great point about support. Another player in this same exact market, QNAP, suffered a serious ransomware attack in April of this year. Nobody is immune from security threats, but having an active support team in place that can respond quickly may help to limit the damage. This would be true for non-security issues as well, i.e., how quickly does the product maker respond to software and firmware bugs in general.

    One challenge of course is whether independent product reviewers can accurately assess the quality of long term product support provided by the manufacturer of these devices, or any device in general. Track record, market longevity, and market position are fine, but with some products you don't really know if a "clean" track record means that you've been very good because you're proactively testing and stressing your product or you've simply been lucky and nobody has tried to topple your house of cards - yet. But I agree that even a reputational and qualitative assessment is better than nothing if you're lacking a good way to do a quantitative assessment.
    There is no practical way to assess the bolded with any guarantee of future accuracy quantitatively or qualitatively. As a general rule, we stay away from Internet-connecting products made by companies with too many adjacent consonants in their name -- you see them all the time on Amazon.

    This is Asus. They've been around for a while, and as JustSomeGuy1 mentioned, some good, some bad. So, In year zero of a new product, what do you say about long-term support for an internet-facing device? A year ago, I'd have said that Western Digital network attached storage devices were fine based on what the company had provided to date for support.

    But then, all of a sudden, there was a problem: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/07/02/western-digital-offering-data-recovery-trade-in-for-hacked-my-book-live-devices

    For what it's worth, the system software at the core of the previous Asustor devices - ADM - dates back to 2011 or so. So far, so good.
    edited July 18 muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    There is no practical way to assess the bolded with any guarantee of future accuracy quantitatively or qualitatively. As a general rule, we stay away from Internet-connecting products made by companies with too many adjacent consonants in their name -- you see them all the time on Amazon.

    This is Asus. They've been around for a while, and as JustSomeGuy1 mentioned, some good, some bad. So, In year zero of a new product, what do you say about long-term support for an internet-facing device? A year ago, I'd have said that Western Digital network attached storage devices were fine based on what the company had provided to date for support.

    But then, all of a sudden, there was a problem: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/07/02/western-digital-offering-data-recovery-trade-in-for-hacked-my-book-live-devices

    For what it's worth, the system software at the core of the previous Asustor devices - ADM - dates back to 2011 or so. So far, so good.
    I totally agree with you. (And, LOLed at your first paragraph.) I'm just saying that this is a really important point, and worth covering in a review, even though you can't provide any sort of guarantee. So in this case, for example, I think it would be worth a few sentences to talk about ADM and its history.

    Also - more of a suggestion than a criticism, since you clearly weren't focusing too much on performance in this review - it might have been nice to test how the NVME SSDs improve access time (if at all, this is an important but often-badly-implemented feature) for spinning rust. I have yet to see a good implementation of SSD caching in anything smaller than enterprise-grade storage systems, and it can make a huge difference for some use cases.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    dewme said:
    Mike, good overall review. I think you missed one major aspect of this, though, except for a tiny mention at the end: ongoing support.

    This is a serious issue because a device like this requires serious LONG-TERM support. For an example of how this sort of product can go wrong, look no further than last week's news about zillions of WD My Book devices being remote wiped due to security flaws not being patched.

    This device runs a Linux OS whether you install a fully accessible interface to it or not, and a pile of app code on top of that. Over time flaws will be discovered, and probably (if the devices gain any traction in the market) exploited. Will Asus support it long-term? I have no idea. They make a LOT of things, most of them of good quality and a few not, but supporting their own distro of Linux - which is effectively what we're talking about here - is a whole new thing for them. I'd be cautious.

    That doesn't mean you should always buy Synology instead. But it would be a big factor in any decision I'd make about this sort of gear. (Though in general, I'd build my own - I'm not exactly their target market.) And thus I think it should have been a bigger part of the review. What's their track record with these devices? How long have they been in the market? What's the support like? Do they have any track record with other software-heavy products? Etc.

    Great point about support. Another player in this same exact market, QNAP, suffered a serious ransomware attack in April of this year. Nobody is immune from security threats, but having an active support team in place that can respond quickly may help to limit the damage. This would be true for non-security issues as well, i.e., how quickly does the product maker respond to software and firmware bugs in general.

    One challenge of course is whether independent product reviewers can accurately assess the quality of long term product support provided by the manufacturer of these devices, or any device in general. Track record, market longevity, and market position are fine, but with some products you don't really know if a "clean" track record means that you've been very good because you're proactively testing and stressing your product or you've simply been lucky and nobody has tried to topple your house of cards - yet. But I agree that even a reputational and qualitative assessment is better than nothing if you're lacking a good way to do a quantitative assessment.
    There is no practical way to assess the bolded with any guarantee of future accuracy quantitatively or qualitatively. As a general rule, we stay away from Internet-connecting products made by companies with too many adjacent consonants in their name -- you see them all the time on Amazon.

    This is Asus. They've been around for a while, and as JustSomeGuy1 mentioned, some good, some bad. So, In year zero of a new product, what do you say about long-term support for an internet-facing device? A year ago, I'd have said that Western Digital network attached storage devices were fine based on what the company had provided to date for support.

    But then, all of a sudden, there was a problem: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/07/02/western-digital-offering-data-recovery-trade-in-for-hacked-my-book-live-devices

    For what it's worth, the system software at the core of the previous Asustor devices - ADM - dates back to 2011 or so. So far, so good.
    I think we’re in total agreement.  

    1) Yes, it would be great if product reviews covered long term support. 
    2) Assessing the quality of long term support is rather difficult, maybe impossible.
    3) Yes, you can look at reputation and company history, but we’ve seen that this can fall apart with the first big issue.
    4) About all you can do is provide a qualitative assessment, or opinion, based on what you’ve seen and what you know about the company, which you have done.

    We can apply these same points about a number of other quality attributes of products under review, for example, reliability.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,565member
    dewme said:
    I got myself a Synology DS220+ which is similar as the 2-bay, $299. I love the thing. Time Machine, Plex, a dropbox-like syncing app (with shareable links the way I wish iCloud would do), CCTV…it’s a sweet device. I sync a portion of my data back to my Mac where Backblaze picks it up and stores a couple in the cloud. 
    Thank you for weighing in with your perspective on that product because it’s definitely on my short list for a personal NAS that fits into a defense-in-depth approach to backups. The use cases you are describing are nearly identical to the ones that I have to satisfy. I would definitely set it up in a RAID 1 configuration with a pair of decent sized NAS drives (10 TB), like Seagate Iron Wolf (Pro) or WD Red. Of course once you populate the DS200+ with a pair of sizable drives, it’s no longer a $299 investment, but that’s a given. The cost of data loss can easily dwarf whatever you spend up front on a backup solution.

    I still plan to keep individual drives attached to individual computers for making CCC bootable full system backups, which is a different use case. Fortunately, the makers of CCC support a family licensing model.

    It would be nice to see some more Apple focused product comparisons on AppleInsider. Yes, some of these products like NAS and home networking, are reviewed on other sites. However, these reviews are rarely laser focused on things that are unique to Apple products and services, like Time Machine, interoperability with iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Photos, compatibility with APFS, T2, etc. Some of these Apple specific “subtleties” can be show stoppers when it comes to using products in an Apple centric (or mixed) environment. Falling back on Amazon, NewEgg, Walmart, etc., buyer reviews do not leave me with the same level of confidence that reviews on AppleInsider would provide.
    Yeah I went with Iron Wolf Pro NAS HDDs, using synology’s redundancy RAID. They are fast! 4TB, but turns out that won’t last as long as I thought it would…
    edited July 19 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,257administrator
    There is no practical way to assess the bolded with any guarantee of future accuracy quantitatively or qualitatively. As a general rule, we stay away from Internet-connecting products made by companies with too many adjacent consonants in their name -- you see them all the time on Amazon.

    This is Asus. They've been around for a while, and as JustSomeGuy1 mentioned, some good, some bad. So, In year zero of a new product, what do you say about long-term support for an internet-facing device? A year ago, I'd have said that Western Digital network attached storage devices were fine based on what the company had provided to date for support.

    But then, all of a sudden, there was a problem: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/07/02/western-digital-offering-data-recovery-trade-in-for-hacked-my-book-live-devices

    For what it's worth, the system software at the core of the previous Asustor devices - ADM - dates back to 2011 or so. So far, so good.
    I totally agree with you. (And, LOLed at your first paragraph.) I'm just saying that this is a really important point, and worth covering in a review, even though you can't provide any sort of guarantee. So in this case, for example, I think it would be worth a few sentences to talk about ADM and its history.

    Also - more of a suggestion than a criticism, since you clearly weren't focusing too much on performance in this review - it might have been nice to test how the NVME SSDs improve access time (if at all, this is an important but often-badly-implemented feature) for spinning rust. I have yet to see a good implementation of SSD caching in anything smaller than enterprise-grade storage systems, and it can make a huge difference for some use cases.
    I probably wasn't clear enough about it, but: "On a wired 10-gig network, with both a SATA SSD RAID, and a hard drive RAID, we saw about 285 megabytes per second read and write on the 2.5-Gig network, and 120 megabytes per second on the Gigabit network -- and about the same with a NVMe SSD for caching installed."

    Really no difference at all.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,178member
    Is there a current run-down anywhere of a variety recommended Apple-friendly NAS devices? 

    After resisting for a while, my Time Capsules have their radios shut off and are now connected by ethernet to eero pro wifi routers. The result is two NAS time-machine backups alternating with each other, offering some redundancy. Those will have to be retired eventually, too, either voluntarily or otherwise, especially with the info last week about their hard drives' issues. The devices listed above look pretty cool, but also might be overkill, so I'd be interested in seeing what's out there that comes with native time machine support.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    There is no practical way to assess the bolded with any guarantee of future accuracy quantitatively or qualitatively. As a general rule, we stay away from Internet-connecting products made by companies with too many adjacent consonants in their name -- you see them all the time on Amazon.

    This is Asus. They've been around for a while, and as JustSomeGuy1 mentioned, some good, some bad. So, In year zero of a new product, what do you say about long-term support for an internet-facing device? A year ago, I'd have said that Western Digital network attached storage devices were fine based on what the company had provided to date for support.

    But then, all of a sudden, there was a problem: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/07/02/western-digital-offering-data-recovery-trade-in-for-hacked-my-book-live-devices

    For what it's worth, the system software at the core of the previous Asustor devices - ADM - dates back to 2011 or so. So far, so good.
    I totally agree with you. (And, LOLed at your first paragraph.) I'm just saying that this is a really important point, and worth covering in a review, even though you can't provide any sort of guarantee. So in this case, for example, I think it would be worth a few sentences to talk about ADM and its history.

    Also - more of a suggestion than a criticism, since you clearly weren't focusing too much on performance in this review - it might have been nice to test how the NVME SSDs improve access time (if at all, this is an important but often-badly-implemented feature) for spinning rust. I have yet to see a good implementation of SSD caching in anything smaller than enterprise-grade storage systems, and it can make a huge difference for some use cases.
    I probably wasn't clear enough about it, but: "On a wired 10-gig network, with both a SATA SSD RAID, and a hard drive RAID, we saw about 285 megabytes per second read and write on the 2.5-Gig network, and 120 megabytes per second on the Gigabit network -- and about the same with a NVMe SSD for caching installed."

    Really no difference at all.
    No, that was clear, but that's transfer speed, obviously (and uninterestingly) bottlenecked by the ethernet. That's why I specifically said "access time".
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,257administrator
    There is no practical way to assess the bolded with any guarantee of future accuracy quantitatively or qualitatively. As a general rule, we stay away from Internet-connecting products made by companies with too many adjacent consonants in their name -- you see them all the time on Amazon.

    This is Asus. They've been around for a while, and as JustSomeGuy1 mentioned, some good, some bad. So, In year zero of a new product, what do you say about long-term support for an internet-facing device? A year ago, I'd have said that Western Digital network attached storage devices were fine based on what the company had provided to date for support.

    But then, all of a sudden, there was a problem: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/07/02/western-digital-offering-data-recovery-trade-in-for-hacked-my-book-live-devices

    For what it's worth, the system software at the core of the previous Asustor devices - ADM - dates back to 2011 or so. So far, so good.
    I totally agree with you. (And, LOLed at your first paragraph.) I'm just saying that this is a really important point, and worth covering in a review, even though you can't provide any sort of guarantee. So in this case, for example, I think it would be worth a few sentences to talk about ADM and its history.

    Also - more of a suggestion than a criticism, since you clearly weren't focusing too much on performance in this review - it might have been nice to test how the NVME SSDs improve access time (if at all, this is an important but often-badly-implemented feature) for spinning rust. I have yet to see a good implementation of SSD caching in anything smaller than enterprise-grade storage systems, and it can make a huge difference for some use cases.
    I probably wasn't clear enough about it, but: "On a wired 10-gig network, with both a SATA SSD RAID, and a hard drive RAID, we saw about 285 megabytes per second read and write on the 2.5-Gig network, and 120 megabytes per second on the Gigabit network -- and about the same with a NVMe SSD for caching installed."

    Really no difference at all.
    No, that was clear, but that's transfer speed, obviously (and uninterestingly) bottlenecked by the ethernet. That's why I specifically said "access time".
    The loaners haven't gone back yet, so I can try a few things. I'm not expecting to see any difference at all versus SATA SSDs or hard drives for prosumer or small business, tbh,
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    No, that was clear, but that's transfer speed, obviously (and uninterestingly) bottlenecked by the ethernet. That's why I specifically said "access time".
    The loaners haven't gone back yet, so I can try a few things. I'm not expecting to see any difference at all versus SATA SSDs or hard drives for prosumer or small business, tbh,
    Yes, testing that is a pretty big commitment. That's why I was only suggesting the possibility - you'd have to think carefully about what kind of workload to test, and how to generate it. The most likely way you'd see big effects from the cache drives in real life would be in multiuser access patterns for small files. The sort of thing you're more likely to see in an SMB context, and not so much at home where you're unlikely to ever have more than one or two simultaneous accesses.

    Come to think of it, you'd also likely see it with large games, for example, if the NAS had 4x rust - games often have tons of small files, and keeping the commonly accessed files in the hot storage tier would have a big impact. But who would ever do that in the first place? You'd want the game on your local SSD. So this is a really artificial test setup, and not likely all that useful.

    edited July 19 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,178member
    I'll ask my question a different way... 

    I did find an AI article from a couple of years ago featuring several different NAS devices, which is sort of helpful.

    With Apple's exit from the sale of Airport Time Capsule devices, there's still a big hole in the Apple environment. When I bought my first Time Capsule, one of the biggest selling points was the inclusion of a simple to set up NAS, which allowed for automatic time machine backups to happen without thinking about it. Prior to that, I would do Time Machine backups with a USB drive, but that required intentionality, and it was easy to forget to do it for a while, which is not a good backup strategy.

    So now there seem to be a number of third-party NAS devices that can be used for automatic backups, but they mostly seem to be un-Apple-like devices in that they have lots of bells and whistles, additional features, and things that tech-savvy people can play with. That's great that those exist, and the one featured in the article above this thread looks like a good one. I might even consider it if it would enable a practice of regularly swapping out a time-machine target drive to store offsite somewhere.

    The question is, though, are there NAS devices available that work more like the old Time Capsule devices, where you can just plug it in to a router ethernet port, making it internally visible as a plain old hard drive on your home network, identify it as a Time Machine backup target on your Mac and then forget about it? That's the missing Apple-like experience. A device that will hold your backups on a home network that is reasonably secure (in particular by automatically not being accessible from outside your home network) ought to be out there, but is it?
    edited July 20 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,178member
    Here's a completely different question about using a device like this ASUS NAS. Haven't used something like this and I'm not certain how it functions, so I'll pitch a scenario and a question.

    Say you have a couple MacBook Pros that you back up using Time Machine onto drives mounted in the ASUS NAS. To effect additional redundancies, on a regular basis, you swap out the drives in the ASUS machine, alternately storing them offsite, say in a safety deposit box. Then one day while you're out, just as you suspected might happen, a drone strike takes out your ASUS NAS along with your vintage 78 RPM record collection stored nearby. 

    Can you then retrieve the alternate HDDs stored in the safety deposit box, plug them into your MacBook pro via SATA>USB and directly access your time machine backups? Or do you have to get a new ASUS box to access and read the disk?
    edited July 20 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,257administrator
    AppleZulu said:
    Here's a completely different question about using a device like this ASUS NAS. Haven't used something like this and I'm not certain how it functions, so I'll pitch a scenario and a question.

    Say you have a couple MacBook Pros that you back up using Time Machine onto drives mounted in the ASUS NAS. To effect additional redundancies, on a regular basis, you swap out the drives in the ASUS machine, alternately storing them offsite, say in a safety deposit box. Then one day while you're out, just as you suspected might happen, a drone strike takes out your ASUS NAS along with your vintage 78 RPM record collection stored nearby. 

    Can you then retrieve the alternate HDDs stored in the safety deposit box, plug them into your MacBook pro via SATA>USB and directly access your time machine backups? Or do you have to get a new ASUS box to access and read the disk?
    There are a lot of variables here as it pertains to the drive formatting and the like. With, say, the two-drive model, if you've got it formatted exFAT, then you should just be able to buy any old two-bay enclosure and go.

    However, given the utter lack of RAID support in macOS for anything other than 0 or 1, if you're using anything else, you're probably going to have to get a new ASUS box to access and read the disk.

    The closest thing we've seen to a Time Machine-like experience is the older Apollo NAS. Still available, though!

    https://www.promise.com/Products/Apollo

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/20/review-promise-apollo-cloud-2-duo-an-apple-centric-set-and-forget-network-attached-storage-appliance
    edited July 20 AppleZuluwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,178member
    AppleZulu said:
    Here's a completely different question about using a device like this ASUS NAS. Haven't used something like this and I'm not certain how it functions, so I'll pitch a scenario and a question.

    Say you have a couple MacBook Pros that you back up using Time Machine onto drives mounted in the ASUS NAS. To effect additional redundancies, on a regular basis, you swap out the drives in the ASUS machine, alternately storing them offsite, say in a safety deposit box. Then one day while you're out, just as you suspected might happen, a drone strike takes out your ASUS NAS along with your vintage 78 RPM record collection stored nearby. 

    Can you then retrieve the alternate HDDs stored in the safety deposit box, plug them into your MacBook pro via SATA>USB and directly access your time machine backups? Or do you have to get a new ASUS box to access and read the disk?
    There are a lot of variables here as it pertains to the drive formatting and the like. With, say, the two-drive model, if you've got it formatted exFAT, then you should just be able to buy any old two-bay enclosure and go.

    However, given the utter lack of RAID support in macOS for anything other than 0 or 1, if you're using anything else, you're probably going to have to get a new ASUS box to access and read the disk.

    The closest thing we've seen to a Time Machine-like experience is the older Apollo NAS. Still available, though!

    https://www.promise.com/Products/Apollo

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/20/review-promise-apollo-cloud-2-duo-an-apple-centric-set-and-forget-network-attached-storage-appliance
    Thanks!
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