D-Link 321 NAS and the Live (review)


Just in case anyone is looking for an NAS to use with their Live I thought I’d provide my two cents about my experiences with the D-Link 321.  The biggest disclaimer: I’ve only had it in use for one day and I’ll update this thread as my experience continues.  However, right now there is $20 off on this unit until Friday, April 30th, and I felt it was important to get this up in case anyone is considering something like this (it brings the cost of the unit down to $98, and is available from Amazon, Egg and Buy.com).

My setup: Two wired Live units, running to a Linksys router (old Linksys).  The NAS is hardwired into the router (I also have a Linksys bridge switch to my router so that my PCs can also be wired – three PCs hardwired into it.  The NAS would not work through the bridge but had to be directly connected to the router. although it might have been something wrong I did).  I bought the D-Link 321 and two Seagate 1.5TB “regular” (not their green or high performance drives), for a total cost of  $296 ($98 for the 321, and $99 for each of the Seagates).

I was looking for a low cost solution, and you can’t beat the price.  The Western Digital 4TB World Book NAS is a more completely solution, but at $150 more (for one more TB) it isn’t particularly cost effective.  And if one of those drives go down you’re hosed, whereas drive replacement in the 321 is a piece of cake.

It took mere minutes to setup the unit (no tools, you just slide the drives in) and then you run the included software to find the unit on your network (I did this from my Win 7 machine, but the software supports all the usual flavors of Windows and you can even do it via Linux or a Mac if you just bring up a browser, as the software is all browser based).  Setup is pretty straightforward.

I first formatted the two drives as JBOD (Just a bunch of disks) because I wanted one big disc drive.  I then tried the unit out and the Lives found it just fine, but playback on my worst case test file (which has bitrates of over 30mbps) was a *touch* erratic (not terrible, just one hiccup, but enough to worry me).  I went back and reformatted as Raid 0 (still one big drive but now stripped) and it worked MUCH better, transfer rates were faster and playback more consistent.

The NAS works as an NAS should – even without any PC on the Live found it and logged into the net shares without a hitch.  It even seemed faster than my PC shares access (could be because it’s Linux to Linux).  Suddenly I have a 3TB slug of movie storage available all without turning on any PCs.

Now the bad – the fan on this unit is noisy.  It’s not vaccum cleaner noisy, but it doesn’t appear to ever shut off.  That might be because of the drives I am using (not “green” drives) but some folks on the D-Link forum have complained about it so I doubt whether I am atypical.  However, it doesn’t stay on all the time (it will power down as the box is cooled) and I might be noticing it more since it’s about head height to me (I’m going to try relocating it to below my desk).  It’s not a deal breaker and given the price of the box (currently $98 until Friday) I am not complaining.

I’m even thinking of buying another one although at the moment I don’t need more storage – it’s just too good a deal to pass up.

One last caveat: if you are thinking about this route, just remember that this is no substitute for backing up your data.  Running in Raid 0 (or even JBOD) doubles your chances you will lose your data (since if one drive fails you lose everything).  And ALL drives fail – it’s a question of when, not IF (which is why they even have a statistic such as MTBF).  You always, always, always back up your data unless you don’t care about losing it (and since it took months to rip all my movies I really care about losing it.  As it stands right now I have my data backed up three times, although as it grows in size I will reduce this to only twice).

I thought I’d report again (after a day) that my issues with the fan noise on this unit are resolved.  After I copied over a ton of data (with more still yet to come – geesh, it’s hard to consolidate 2TB of information :>) and the drives cooled down the fan stopped and the unit is silent.  Even when I play a movie now the unit doesn’t get hot enough for the fan to come on, so I think I’m going to leave it where it is for now (which is behind my monitors).

I can’t tell you how cool it is to simply turn on the Live (without a PC) and see all my files.  There were others here touting the virtures of an NAS and I was skeptical (particularly when I thought I’d have to pay big bucks for one) but now I’m sold.  I would never pay more than around $100 for one, but considering that you can pay almost that much for a dual disk enclosure alone it just makes a ton of sense (and now that 1.5TB drives are dirt cheap I can’t see that disk space should be a consideration for anyone).

I should also mention that one of my concerns was that my router only had four ports (and all were taken up with PCs and/or Live units).  Adding a Linksys bridge switch (around $25) was easy and a no-brainer (just plug and it works), so now I have plenty of extra ports.  However, it should be noted that my NAS would not work plugged directly into it (at least not without doing something and I wanted to not think about that :>). 

It’s pretty common for NAS drives to not work real well on either a hub or a switch. Some will work fine on a switch but not a hub, and others will be vise versa; and yet others must be plugged directly into the router. 

Ah, good to know (I thought I was doing something wrong, but as soon as I plugged it straight into the router all was well so I stopped caring :>).  Not a huge deal for me, since everything else seems to work great on the switch, so even if I had to add two more NAS I could still plug them directly into the router.

One last reminder (and, no, I don’t work for D-Link :>).  $20 off from Amazon, Egg or Buy.com on the NAS 321 ends today.

mkelley wrote:

One last reminder (and, no, I don’t work for D-Link :>).  $20 off from Amazon, Egg or Buy.com on the NAS 321 ends today.

Cheers for the review and reminder, looks like a great value NAS.  

I was thinking of getting a DNS-321 with a pair of 1TB drives and running them striped for 2TB of fast storage.  Then getting a 2TB external USB drive to plug into the NAS as backup.  Except I see the 321 doesn’t have a USB port.  Looking up the chain, the 323 has a USB port but it’s only for connecting a printer.  :(  I thought the search was over, darn it… 


I’m in a similar situation, except that my USB backup drives are connected to my computer.  Not a real big deal, I just have to have the computer on to copy to/from the NAS (I’m actually doing that as I speak).  Frankly, you’d need to have some computer on anyway (even if just using web access to the NAS) so I don’t see it as a big deal.  And I turn off the external USB drives when not backing things up so my data is even more secure.

The 321 is really a sweet box for the price – unfortunately, they only allow one rebate per person per household, so I’m not going to buy another one right now (but I will down the road).

Hey still looks like a good deal to me.

Do you happen to know what its max is in TB’s?

Also can u leave its NAS software downloading Torrent files without running a laptop? or would u take care of something like that using FreeNAS?