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Network-attached-storage and surge protection


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#1 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:58 AM

Hey all. I'm needing some more storage space for backing up data.

 

I'd like something that isn't a direct part of my computer, but can be read/written to by the PC I use and the family laptops, so I was thinking a NAS hooked up to the wireless router I already have would be a good idea.

 

I was thinking of getting one of these NAS devices:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UBU3SY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=ABFXSVNT1RI5&coliid=I20K4OR2OAGMQL

 

And two of these drives:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088PUEPK/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=ABFXSVNT1RI5&coliid=I2JWIUT9Y6D4JT

 

...with that data duplicated between the two drives (RAID 1? I've never done this before) incase one fails.

 

A) What do you think of that device? The Amazon reviews seem decent enough.

 

B) Does that device support those harddrives?

I think it does - but the harddrives I think are SATA 3, where the NAS device only supports SATA 1 & 2 - but SATA 3 is backwards compatible. So am I compatible here?

 

C) Seeing that it'll be plugged into the wall, and plugged into the router by CAT5 (or whatever it is) - what do I need to do to protect it from, say, lightning strikes, blackouts, or power surges? Do blackouts pose any risk of killing/damaging the entire harddrive?

 

D) How do I know when one drive of the RAID-1 pair fails?


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#2 jHaskell   Members   -  Reputation: 1109

Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:31 PM

There's always a very slim possibility that there will be a compatibility issue between a particular drive and a particular NAS, but it's very unlikely, and sticking with a popular brand drive like WD makes it extremely unlikely.

 

 

Normally I'd say the NAS doesn't need any more protection than your PC has, but if you're using as a primary source of backups then it might be prudent to provide it more protection than the rest of your computer equipment, perhaps even go so far as give it a dedicated UPS.  While that may sound like overkill, compared to your average PC these NAS devices are relatively low power devices, so the absolute smallest UPS you can find would be more than adequate.

 

 

The HD lights on the device itself should somehow indicate if there is a drive failure of some sort (green vs red, or some sort of flashing pattern if it's not an RGB LED).  The NAS will also host a web config page that may provide status info as well.



#3 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:37 PM

That device is called a Power Media Server, and so read the specs: 1.2 GHz CPU, 500MB RAM, SATA I/II, no SATA III, USB2.0, no USB 3.0, no ext. SATA. That is enough to stream video, but it is definitely not state of the art. Using it for backup will probably work. But I would not consider it as real NAS.

 

The HD you've chosen is on the compatibility list.

 

Protection from lighting strikes and power surges can be bought build into power outlet strips. Protection from blackout can be bough as UPS. That is the same as for PC's in general. Simple NAS's don't have redundant power supplies or so. The only redundancy is in using RAID (here RAID 1, because you have only 2 bays).

 

What you have to consider is whether they should run 24/7. If so you may think of drives that are made for that purpose (e.g. the WD Red instead of the WD Blue).

 

Besides the mechanisms already mentioned by jHaskell, usually the NAS OS can be configured to e.g. send an eMail if a drive failure is detected. I assume that the ZyXEL NAS can do so, too.


Edited by haegarr, 30 December 2013 - 01:42 PM.


#4 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 30 December 2013 - 02:16 PM

Normally I'd say the NAS doesn't need any more protection than your PC has, but if you're using as a primary source of backups then it might be prudent to provide it more protection than the rest of your computer equipment, perhaps even go so far as give it a dedicated UPS.  While that may sound like overkill, compared to your average PC these NAS devices are relatively low power devices, so the absolute smallest UPS you can find would be more than adequate.

 

If a blackout occurs, my regular computers would go down (well, the laptops would remain running for a few hours), so why do I want the NAS to stay online? What protection does a UPS provide?

 

I guess I always thought of a UPS as solely a backup power supply and not as some electrical safeguard.

 

And what about the CAT5 (or "Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 connector" or whatever) connection to the NAS - power can surge through that from the router, right? So do I need some kind of protection on the actual network cable going into the NAS?

 

I suppose the best bet is just remembering to unplug everything (router, internet connection, computer powerstrips), if there is a storm in the area. Or just unplugging the NAS.


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 30 December 2013 - 02:17 PM.

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#5 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:03 PM

Thank you very much for the knowledgeable feedback, this helps alot.
I did some research before posting, but without experience and existing knowledge, sometimes I overlook important bits of info.
 

That device is called a Power Media Server, and so read the specs: 1.2 GHz CPU, 500MB RAM, SATA I/II, no SATA III, USB2.0, no USB 3.0, no ext. SATA. That is enough to stream video, but it is definitely not state of the art. Using it for backup will probably work. But I would not consider it as real NAS.

My intention is to use it to store:
A) Backups of all my files, especially my programming projects.
B) Backups of my parents' laptops, especially my Dad's Word and Excel files (~10 GB).
C) My purchased DRM-free indie game installers (they won't be installed on the device itself, just stored). <not backups>
D) Alot of MP3 hour-long bible teachings, which I'd probably stream (but could just keep locally). <not backups>
E) A small amount (~15 GB) of music, which I'd stream occasionally (but could just keep locally). <not backups>
F) A small amount (~15 GB) of photographs - family photos, my crummy nature photography, and a lot of downloaded nature photos used for game inspiration.

Both my programming projects and my dad's Word/Excel projects, I want to backup incrementally, so changes are preserved. I usually use Cobian Backup for this kind of thing.

This is to basically say, I won't be using it as if it were just an extension of my computer's local storage. I rather want external harddrives that I can incrementally backup to every day automatically (Cobian Backup handles the scheduling for me), and that I occasionally access from my computer as a Networked Location drive to read some files.

I'm really not looking for a Media Server, I'm looking for external storage on my LAN. Are there better devices of a similar price better-suited for my needs?

On Amazon, I see alot of NAS-devices with the harddrive already in it, but I'd rather be able to access the harddrives and put in my own ones.

Another issue I realized yesterday, is that the particular NAS I chose only supports harddrives in EXT4 file format. Since all the computers are using Windows, shouldn't the attached drives (if using them as Networked Locations) be NTFS or something more Windows-friendly (even though most NAS devices probably run stripped down Linux distros)?
 

Protection from lighting strikes and power surges can be bought build into power outlet strips.

I have a few power strips about, probably $15 or so apiece. However, I heard that if lightning strikes nearby, power strips won't really protect from that and aren't intended to.
 

Protection from blackout can be bough as UPS.

But do I need "protection" from blackouts? Is there a risk of damage to the harddrives if the suddenly lose power?
I do not need to access the data during a blackout, so I'm really only concerned about damage that may result from the blackout. Is a UPS still relevant to me?
 

The only redundancy is in using RAID (here RAID 1, because you have only 2 bays).

Yes, I was going to use RAID 1, though I'm not experienced with any RAID setup. Is RAID 1 not a good choice?
 

What you have to consider is whether they should run 24/7.

We have family up all through the night, using computers even after I head to bed. That said, I fully shut down my desktop when I head to bed, and start it up again in the morning when I wake up. I'd probably do the same with the NAS. The family won't access the NAS directly, but I'll schedule backups so their data is invisibly backed up sometime during the day when the NAS is likely to be on.
 

If so you may think of drives that are made for that purpose (e.g. the WD Red instead of the WD Blue).

Assuming the NAS is on 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, just like my desktop computer, and is really only heavily read from and written to during scheduled backups (I guess 3 or 4 times a day, since I'd probably schedule the backups of the laptops and desktop at different time periods so they all aren't trying to access it at the same time).
When the backups do occur, it won't be hundreds of GB except once a week (during the scheduled 'Full' backups that the incremental backups are relative to).

Would I still want Reds, or would Blues work fine? The Blues are each $15 cheaper (on sale currently), though I'm willing to pay extra if it's worth it. Do the WD Reds really last longer? The warranty is longer (3 years vs 2 years for Blues), so it does seem like WD is willing to put their money behind it.
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#6 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:04 PM

A UPS ensures that the power will be up long enough that all running process can be shutdown in a controlled way. It is not intended to let the system run until the regular power is available again (okay, it is intended to do so in the case of sustainment systems, but not for our normal use). If processes are not shutdown in a controlled way it may happen that data are lost. This is the same for your computer.

 

Furthermore, good UPS devices have protection circuitry build into as well. It protects from both under-voltage and over-voltage.



#7 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:45 PM

Oh, our answers have crossed over...

 

As mentioned, the device is probably fine for back-ups and media. I don't know prices of many NAS devices (my device is a TS-670 from QNAP, and the prices here in Germany are probably others than yours).

 

RAID I is mirroring. It's major drawback is that you pay with 50% of your net storage for some safety. But it is cheap because you need just 2 drives at least. On the other hand, with 2 drives you cannot do something else at all (RAID 0 gives no additional safety). So RAID I is the choice.

 

WD Red is in-between real server drives and desktop drives. Server drives are build to be packed more densely, to be better suited when higher temperatures occur, show smoother running at less vibrations, and have some protection circuitry I do not remember in detail. The Reds have some of these but not all. In a 24/7 service I would recommend something like them also for SoHo, but for a regular desktop use other drives will probably okay. Just your choice ;) I have a linux software RAID 1+0 box running 14 hours per day with 5 year old Samsung desktop drives here. It still has no problems reported by SMART or mdadmin. However, I do not entrust really important data to them anymore, you know.

 

Belonging protection from lightning: I'm not sure. Some manufacturers give a guarantee to replace hardware that has been damaged although being protected by their devices. Of course, such things cost more than $15. But I doubt that it is that easy for an aggrieved party, and your data loss would not be substitutable at all. 

 

I, personally, have "normal" protection in the range of 50EUR. They are probably not better than yours. I already had data loss due to uncontrolled computer shutdown at 3 customers of mine, but I never had a damage due to over-voltage.



#8 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 30 December 2013 - 05:05 PM

So I'll probably go with the WD Reds, and I'll look around for a different NAS device since I don't need the Media Server stuff, but I'll fall back to this NAS-device/Media-Server if I can't find anything reasonably priced.

 

Should I be looking for a NAS that specifically supports NTFS?

I'll at a later date add a UPS, maybe this one, to the setup - but probably can't do that right off the bat without things getting too expensive.

Come to think of it - my ISP installed a UPS for the internet connection coming in off the street. I have the box and the warranty and such, so if it provides enough power for enough time, maybe I'll plug the NAS and the router into that. That'd depend how much wattage the NAS uses, and how much the UPS provides.

 

For my desktop, it is plugged in through a surge protector (two, actually - one cheap powerstrip and one of unknown cost that comes with a warranty I've lost - but hopefully it'll eat the brunt of anything serious).

 

Should I get a surge protector for the ethernet connection to the NAS, or is that going overboard? The off-the-street connection is surge-protected coming in, but my LAN'd printer isn't necessarily surge protected, and it's plugged in to the router which will be plugged into the NAS.

 

I'm not looking for reasons to spend money, just trying to do due-diligence up-front thinking. smile.png

 

I really appreciate all the help, gentlemen! Thank you.


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 30 December 2013 - 05:06 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#9 Oolala   Members   -  Reputation: 860

Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:39 PM

Maybe this is a dumb question, but why a NAS device, instead of something fixed to the PC?  If your PC is going to be on during the entire duration, you save yourself the money of the NAS box itself, and you don't need to worry nearly as much about performance issues associated with the comparatively crumby SATA 1/2 interfaces.  Most PCs have tons of spare 3.5' bays and SATA controllers.

 

Also, if you're going with a mirrored RAID, does a WD Red really buy you much more than regular RAID consistency checks don't already give you?



#10 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 31 December 2013 - 02:53 AM


Should I be looking for a NAS that specifically supports NTFS?

IMHO: No. My linux RAID runs ext3, the QNAP runs ext4. I have some Mac OS clients and a Windows client. I usually access via NFS, AFP, Samba. The only problem I ever encountered was the distinct decomposition scheme of Unicode filenames between Mac and Windows/linux (what, BTW, would AFAIK not be solved by using another file-system). If you actually look up for a NAS supporting NTFS you have to make sure that it uses it internally; many (?) NAS support NTFS but only for externally connected drives. 

 

If your favorite file-system has some specialities then they probably will not be supported when using another FS. The meta tagging  supported by HFS+ comes to my mind.

 


I'll at a later date add a UPS, maybe this one, to the setup - but probably can't do that right off the bat without things getting too expensive.
Notice please: I recommend a UPS if you really want to be protected where possible. Whether it is a remunerative investment is a good question. Not every power fail will cause damage to the data. You have to answer the question: How often does it happen that your power supply fails and how important are the data stored on the NAS, compared with the costs of a UPS. Further, if a damage occurs it will affect a few files, not the entire drive (drives automatically put the heads into park position when power drops down). I should have said that the 3 customers I mentioned somewhere above had the habit to switch off the computer instead of shutting it down properly. In the end we cannot prove that their habit was the cause for the damage, but it is very likely since it is like a power fail once a day.
 


Should I get a surge protector for the ethernet connection to the NAS, or is that going overboard? The off-the-street connection is surge-protected coming in, but my LAN'd printer isn't necessarily surge protected, and it's plugged in to the router which will be plugged into the NAS.

Sorry, but I have no clue how probable damage coming over ethernet cable may be. Perhaps somebody else knows …

 


Also, if you're going with a mirrored RAID, does a WD Red really buy you much more than regular RAID consistency checks don't already give you?
Well, its a question of probability. It is more probable that a desktop drive gets broken earlier than a server drive if the use case is "server". Look at the guarantee times. You can get up to 5 years guarantee for real server drives in a 24/7 scenario, while guarantee for desktop drives typically end at 1 or 2 years in a 8 (maybe 10) hour per day scenario.
 
14 hours per day is not what the manufacturers see as typical desktop use. However, many people, including me, have such power-on times for their computers included desktop drives, and it works. As said, I still run a RAID with 4 pieces of 5 year old desktop drives, and they still work fine.


#11 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 31 December 2013 - 01:35 PM

 

Should I be looking for a NAS that specifically supports NTFS?

If your favorite file-system has some specialities then they probably will not be supported when using another FS. The meta tagging  supported by HFS+ comes to my mind.

 

I don't knowingly have any special features I care about. I just would like to be able to access the drives through Window's Network Locations.
m4fg.png
 

 

I'll at a later date add a UPS, maybe this one, to the setup - but probably can't do that right off the bat without things getting too expensive.

Notice please: I recommend a UPS if you really want to be protected where possible. Whether it is a remunerative investment is a good question. Not every power fail will cause damage to the data.

 


But does a power failure have the potential to wreck the entire drive?
 

You have to answer the question: How often does it happen that your power supply fails and how important are the data stored on the NAS, compared with the costs of a UPS.

The data, mostly being backups, if lost (and if I know it's lost) could be re-backed up.

Power failures occur maybe a dozen times a year (lasting a few minutes or even a few seconds each), clustered together during the rainy season.
 

Further, if a damage occurs it will affect a few files, not the entire drive (drives automatically put the heads into park position when power drops down).

That's fine. If it's not affecting the entire drive, and won't damage the entire drive, that's fine if I lose a random file once or twice a year, since a full backup would be remade from scratch every week anyway, and the most recent two full backups will exist at any given time.
 

I should have said that the 3 customers I mentioned somewhere above had the habit to switch off the computer instead of shutting it down properly. In the end we cannot prove that their habit was the cause for the damage, but it is very likely since it is like a power fail once a day.

I shut down my PC properly, using the regular (Start->Shutdown + walk away) method. My computer was crashing to blue-screen quite a bit (about every other day) a few weeks ago, but I think I got that resolved and it hasn't reoccured since.
 

why a NAS device, instead of something fixed to the PC?

Good question. I guess it's mostly an illusion of security by separating my aging desktop from my data backed up from that desktop. If the desktop dies I don't want it to kill its own backups as well.
I don't know if that's actually a risk, but mentally it seems like a risk. It'd give me psychological peace of mind, if nothing else, to be able to look at a physically separated object that holds the backup data.
 

If your PC is going to be on during the entire duration, you save yourself the money of the NAS box itself, and you don't need to worry nearly as much about performance issues associated with the comparatively crumby SATA 1/2 interfaces.  Most PCs have tons of spare 3.5' bays and SATA controllers.

My PC is a few years old now - ~6 years; I think I got it in 2007 (though I've made some minor hardware upgrades since then). Since it's working fine for my current needs, and performs smoothly enough, I'm hoping it'll chug along for another year or two before I replace it with a more recent and upgraded computer.

It has two SATA 3.5" bays, both are now being used with harddrives (one 350GB and one 500GB - currently the laptops, and itself, backs up to the newer one of the internal drives, though both drives are also used for non-backup data).
It has four SATA ports. Two of them are SATA-2, which I have the two drives plugged into, and two of them are SATA-1, one of which is used by the CD/DVD drive and one of which is (iirc) unused.

I also have an aging external harddrive, USB-2 and 350GB, that I really want to migrate away from for important data. If I setup a NAS or something equivalent, I'd either use the harddrive as an extraly redundant backup of important data that's synced less often (maybe monthly), or leave it plugged into the desktop just as an extra bit of space - though I really wouldn't need the space since the desktop's memory would be majorly freed up.

Does that make sense, or am I being ridiculous?


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 31 December 2013 - 01:55 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

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#12 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 01 January 2014 - 10:06 AM


I don't knowingly have any special features I care about. I just would like to be able to access the drives through Window's Network Locations.

Yep, the NAS will appear there.

 


Power failures occur maybe a dozen times a year (lasting a few minutes or even a few seconds each), clustered together during the rainy season.

Regularly a dozen times a year is too much to be not worried about, in my opinion.

 


Does that make sense, or am I being ridiculous?

No, it is not ridiculous to have a 2nd level.

 

A NAS is an extra component. It allows for access by several clients. It allows for access in a more flexible period of time because it is not coupled to the operation time of a desktop computer. It costs relatively low current. It can serve as a versatile server with easy configuration tools.

 

On the other hand: The components inside a NAS are not as simply exchangeable as in a (perhaps self-build) desktop computer. Redundancy at RAID level is of no value if the power supply unit of the NAS becomes broken. Even worse: You cannot simply plug in the drives (from a hardware RAID) into a SATA slot of an arbitrary machine and hope for it coming back to life. Mostly every other machine will tell you that the drive is unformatted or corrupted.

 

This implies that a backup strategy (especially using a proprietary NAS as first level) should *ever* have a second level as well. This second level should be an external device, preferably plugged in via eSATA or USB to the NAS (that is why I have mentioned that the ZyXEL doesn't have eSATA or USB-3.0), initialized with a common file-system. Even better it should be a couple of devices / data media that are used in a round-robin mode. The external device(s) should be plugged in and switched on just for the time of making the back-up, and they should be deposited apart from the NAS. In dependence on the importance of the data and of course their change rate, a week for the 2nd level backup interval may already be too long.

 

Well, in a private environment one has to make compromises due to costs, and driving such an effort for more-or-less unimportant data will yield in displeasure after some time anyway.



#13 condemn   Members   -  Reputation: 157

Posted 02 January 2014 - 07:17 AM

I'd recommend a HP Microserver (usually cheaper than a decent NAS if you get the cashback offer) and some WD reds.

 

Then whack either a linux distro or windows server on it, and it'll do whatever you want it to, and more.

 

I've currently got the not-so-latest one, you can get upto 16gb memory in it and run a load of VMs from it, but i'm just using it as a simple server, running arch linux. Using it with sickbeard/sabnzbd for grabbing TV shows, but it's mainly for storing all my media which i can stream to pretty much any device in the house, via a simple samba share (takes about 15-20mins to set up samba on arch linux, without any knowledge, nifty!) plus makes it available in windows so you can use it as a network drive for backups etc. (i've got it set up so that every night it backs up from my windows machines the stuff i need and once done automatically sends the really important stuff to an offsite VPS for extra security, just actually need to have some stuff that is that important!) along with various other things.

 

Run it headless and ssh into it for administration etc, otherwise can just leave it on to do it's thing with minimal fuss.

 

I did have a fairly cheap NAS (about £50 cheap) but that just sucked, even when trying to use it properly, the HP microserver ended up costing me about £40 more after the cashback, so worth splashing out some on one, imo. Especially as 'good' NAS's seem to be about £200 around here.



#14 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 12 January 2014 - 11:08 PM

I ordered two 1TB WD Reds, but I still haven't made my mind up about which NAS to go with. The HP Microservers look expensive ($350 and up) compared to the one I was looking at originally ($100). I'm looking for a NAS server that is under about $175, considering I'm already spending about $175 on harddrives. Any suggestions?

 

Also, I pulled out the UPS I have, and looked up its specs, and it seems like it'd do the job. I don't know if the company will still honor the equipment protection/replacement policy, but at least the UPS will provide backup power for ~6 minutes at 400 watts (13 minutes at 200 watts), and optionally send a shutdown signal to the NAS. Further, in the event of real surges, it'll hopefully eat the brunt of it, if not protect the electronics entirely.

 

About the UPS sending signals to the NAS, the UPS came with an install disk (Win95/98/..../Vista/Server2008 and "Linux"), which I could install on the NAS (uhh, I guess by copying via NFS? Just realized the NAS obviously won't have a cd drive). However, the UPS sends the shutdown signal via an "RS-232 communication port", which I've never heard of before, instead of USB.

 

I guess I could get an adapter cable like this one, but then how does the UPS's disc software installed on the NAS recognize to check the USB instead of the (non-existant) RS-232 connection? It looks like that adapter cable comes with USB drivers that then mimic a RS-232 interface to software running on the OS... does that make sense, or am I misunderstanding something?

 

The software that came with the UPS is called 'upsmon', and seems to be fairly standardized software.


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All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#15 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 13 January 2014 - 02:32 AM


About the UPS sending signals to the NAS, the UPS came with an install disk (Win95/98/..../Vista/Server2008 and "Linux"), which I could install on the NAS (uhh, I guess by copying via NFS?

Installation depends on the NAS, of course. E.g. the QNAPs run linux, and they use a specific package system for installation (under linux there are some such systems available, dependent on the distribution). Installation is done there by using the QNAP client software.

 

If installation from the NAS drives is possible at all, then putting and mounting an ISO image may be possible, too.

 


However, the UPS sends the shutdown signal via an "RS-232 communication port", which I've never heard of before, instead of USB.

Thanks that you remind me how old I am ;) 

 

Under Windows the RS-232 ports are called COM1, COM2, …; you can find them in the Device Manager. Usually there is one (COM1) shown although no hardware is attached. If you attach an adapter (see below) and has the driver installed, then an additional COM port will be shown there.

 


I guess I could get an adapter cable like this one, but then how does the UPS's disc software installed on the NAS recognize to check the USB instead of the (non-existant) RS-232 connection? It looks like that adapter cable comes with USB drivers that then mimic a RS-232 interface to software running on the OS... does that make sense, or am I misunderstanding something?

Such adapters do exactly that: At the RS-232 end they are, well, RS-232 ports; at the USB end they have a driver to be installed that emulates a RS-232 port on the OS side, so that it looks like a standard RS-232 to clients. To my knowledge adapter cables with FTDI chipset (e.g. FT232RL) are the ones with the widest support.

 

However, there is another caveat: You know that an ethernet patch cable is to be used for computer to switch connections, but a cross-over cable is to be used from computer to computer. This exists for RS-232, too. But even worse, there are male and female connectors for RS-232. This means that eventually a so-called "gender changer" is required (search amazon for it). To make things more complicated, adapters exists that handle both the crossing over and the gender changing. The only thing you probably need not to consider is that RS-232 plugs exists in a 9 pole and in a 25 pole version; most probably you would need the 9 pole version.

 

Now if you need to stay with RS-232, your problems are:

* You need to find the correct adapter configuration.

* You need to have a driver on your NAS suitable for both the NAS OS and the adapter cable.

* You need the software that shuts down the NAS controlled by a command coming from a COM port.

That may require you some searching and perhaps trial-&-fail to get that to work!!



#16 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31938

Posted 13 January 2014 - 05:05 AM

I'm using a "Synology" brand NAS at the moment. They've got a cheap ~$180 one, but I think mine was closer to $800 wacko.png

It's pretty handy though, as it runs linux, so I use it to host a few services besides file-serving. It's on a schedule so it automatically backs itself up over the net to a different off-site NAS too.

And yep, as above, I've got it behind a UPS (and everything else on surge-protected power boards) just to be safe.



#17 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 21183

Posted 13 January 2014 - 02:09 PM

The ZyXEL NSA320 runs a stripped down version of Linux that you can't really access. There are online tutorials about how to install different versions of Linux, but since the default NSA320 install doesn't have the necessary 'boot from USB', you have to physically wire it up to your computer to upgrade the 'uBoot' firmware, before being able to install what you want.

I don't feel like doing that. One too many steps outside my current comfort zone, not being a hardware guy, and not having much Linux experience. There's a real possibility of bricking the NSA320 if the firmware update fails.

Most my power outages last around twenty seconds or so. The UPS will provide power for between 6 and 13 minutes. Only about twice a year I get real power outages. Further, the likelihood of an extended power outage that occurs right when a backup is going is is unlikely.

Just plugging the device into the UPS should protect it from powersurges and most of the power outages, so I think that's good enough for me.

The NSA320 says, "APC USB UPS monitoring and auto shutdown", but the UPS has RS-232 (9 pin) - since the NAS already has software installed for handling standard USB APC signals, and the UPS emits RS-232 signals, is there a cable available that converts between the two? I don't know in what way the signals might vary.

I just asked customer support for the UPS, and they said, "Regarding your UPS and communication – I cannot speak for APC protocols, however, you CAN use a standard RS232-USB converter to connect your UPS via USB to a computer.". That doesn't quite clarify for me, but it might give you gentlemen some insight.

Edited by Servant of the Lord, 13 January 2014 - 03:18 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
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#18 haegarr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4602

Posted 14 January 2014 - 02:14 AM


The NSA320 says, "APC USB UPS monitoring and auto shutdown", but the UPS has RS-232 (9 pin) - since the NAS already has software installed for handling standard USB APC signals, and the UPS emits RS-232 signals, is there a cable available that converts between the two? I don't know in what way the signals might vary.
 

I just asked customer support for the UPS, and they said, "Regarding your UPS and communication – I cannot speak for APC protocols, however, you CAN use a standard RS232-USB converter to connect your UPS via USB to a computer.". That doesn't quite clarify for me, but it might give you gentlemen some insight.

IMHO (what includes a "but actually I don't know") a direct link "as is" will not work, because of the following reasoning: The NAS binds to a USB port, the UPS binds to a RS-232 port. So a suitable adapter need to convert the protocol by itself, in hardware, without any support by a computer board on the one or other end. Because RS-232 does not has such a protocol stack like USB has, the adapter further need to be build explicitly to understand the UPS' protocol and to looks like a UPS on the USB side. All adapters I'm aware of are generic and use the lower complexity of RS-232 on both endpoints, i.e. give a RS-232 to RS-232 connection from a client software's point of view (this is true for the USB and for the BT adapters I've used so far).

 

Maybe there is somewhere a niche product especially build for the job. It is not too complex to build such a thing even for electronic hobby enthusiasts. Nevertheless I've never seen such a thing to buy.

 

You can perhaps try to find a solution with a computer in-between where you have full access to install drivers and such, i.e. like a bridge between UPS and NAS. The downside is, of course, that you need to run the computer as long as the NAS.






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