Network Storage Options

Hello everyone, I have been using a WD Live Hub for a while now and one the space filled up, I added on a WD TV LIVE SMP with a 3TB My Book Live connected to my router. This solution has been excellent so far. However, I have begun to run out of space. My two concerns with buying another My Book Live are that are rather expensive for what they are and I don’t really have any of the information on there backed up some place else. 

My home has a wired gigabit network setup so the wiring is not a problem. The issue is the storage. I’m trying to set something up that is safer and will perhaps backup the information. Something more automated. I was looking into a Drobo 5N system and adding a couple of 3TB drives. 

Basically I’d like to know if this is something the WD TV Live will recognize and how simple the setup would be. 
Is it just plug and play and I can just change between the various drives? 
Are they all recognized as one? 
Is there a limit as to the size of a drive the unit will recognize? 
Is it as simple as connecting the 5N to my router as I did with the My Book Live and everything will be there?

I also read on other solutions such as D-Link NAS systems. Any recommendations would be great. My computer background knowledge is pretty minimal (I’m a business student, not an IT pro  smile.gif ) but I have made it this far with reading so I feel like I can manage this with some help and BASIC computer language haha. 

Thanks and I hope someone can point me in the right direction!

It all depends on how you set your Drobo up.

Most NAS’s are pretty much the same in these regards:

  • Shares are assigned to “Volumes.”
  • Volumes are assigned to disks or groups (RAIDs) of Disks.

The WD sees SHARES.

There is no limit to the size of a NAS share the WD will support as far as I know.  I’ve connected to shares on volumes as large as 12TB with no issue.

I have the WDTVLive SMP and a Drobo 5n, so I thought I’d share my experience so far:

Note: the Drobo5N is a brilliant NAS device in every regard…the only issue is with the WDTVLIVE SMP.

First off, I used to have a DroboS, 16TB volume connected to my Win7 PC, and would share the movie folder out and stream on the SMP. Besides the occassional lost share connection issue, and the fact that the PC would have to be on all the time, it streamed perfectly with never an issue, even with the largest .mkv files.

I recently sold my DroboS and bought a Drobo 5N, and even installed a 64GB mSata drive, which is supposed to boost read performance. I set up 4 shares, in a 16TB Volume.

I reset my SMP to factory and started to set it up from scratch, updated the firmware to 1.13.18 and it found the DroboN shares right away under ‘windows shares’.

My media showed up immediately. Very happy…until…

My movies and videos stutter, and pause/catch up spoadically now, and it’s extremely annoying and disappointing.

I’ve disabled Media Content in case it was that. I’ve tried .mkv’s, ISO dvd’s, mpg’s and avi’s, and they all are prone to stuttering. This is the exact media that used to play fine.

If copied to USB drive and direct connected to the SMP, it’s perfect.

When I read/write to my Drobo5N, the performance never is less than 36MB /per second, and is often 75MB /second. The 100Mbps wired port on the SMP is slower than the rate that the Drobo can dish it out, so I don’t think that’s the issue. The Drobo HDD light barely blinks, definitely no sign of distress.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am, since I got rid of the DroboS, and now am left with a NAS with all my years of media, that doesn’t play well.

I also tried reverting fw back to 1.12.xx but it didn’t help.


Networking info:

Cisco E4200 dual band router fw 1.04 (updating to 1.05 today)

DROBO is setup as a DHCP reservation

Drobo is connected to a Cisco SMB300 Professional Gb switch. (I’ve also tried Drobo direct to router)

SMP is connected direct to Router. (for some reason, it was worse when connected through switch)

Router MTU is set to Auto

Drobo has 5 Seagate Barracuda 3TB drives (7200rpm) set for dual disk redundancy.


If anyone has any ideas on this, I’d appreciate it.

I’d hold off on the Drobo5N until the issue is resolved. I don’t believe it’s the Drobo’s fault, but perhaps the way the SMP is requesting packets from the Drobo is causing too much network exhaustion. Dunno.

It’s quite possible that the drobo or the 4200 can’t tolerate the huge packets the WD uses. The WD, with Samba, uses 64KB TCP segments, and many switches can’t buffer that much. The switch needs to buffer if the drobo is gig and the SMP is 100. You can test this theory by setting your drobo temporarily to 100 meg half duplex and see if it improves. (Yes. HALF duplex, not FULL. I’ll explain that later if in fact the test works.)

Intriguing…you have me curious. I’d like to hear more.

I downgraded fw to 1.12.14 today, to no avail.

BUT, I did find the E4200 had a newer firmware availabe, and the readme mentioned something about better streaming support for Apple Air Play, and improved QoS. hmm. I upgraded and it was fixed. I watched AVATAR which was my biggest 1080 .mkv file and it played perfectly. Then I shut down my PC while the NAS was streaming to the WD, and it started to glitch…crazy.

Restarted the PC and all was well. Made no sense.

I made sure I stopped all sharing on the PC, and I went back into the router config and did DHCP reservations for the WD and NAS, because I read here that this can help. I also router a few feeds that were direct to the router, into the switch, and lastly I replaced some cable with Cat6.

Not sure which of the last measures solved the last piece of the puzzle, but I’ve now watch 4 more movies today and it streamed perfectly, and I can shut down my PC with no ill effect.

NOte: *This switch is business class, not consumer class, so I think it should be able to hand the buffering…

I’d still like to hear about your theory…

Note to anyone looking at Drobo5N, get the mSata card that goes in the bottom. Better faster reads, which will help with streaming. The HDD light blinks casually once every 2 seconds or so. No stress at all.

A lot of switches have small packet buffers.   My older netgear switches only had 12KB per port.  

What this means is, if the sending server is sending at Gigabit speeds, and the receiving device is only 100, the switch has to buffer all of the excess data since it can only transmit at 1/10th the speed that it’s receiving the data.

If a switch doesn’t have enough buffers, it will lose (or “drop”) the packets that overflow the buffer.  

The receiving device is still expecting to receive the packets that the switch dropped, and when it figures out the packets aren’t going to arrive, it has to “time out” and request the packets be retransmitted, and the whole process repeats.

This is an enterprise switch. 8Mb packet buffer.

Wouldn’t the SMP have benefited from a Gb port rather than the 100 Mb port, especially with the bit rates of some movies?

The highest bit rate that BD can do is around 50 megabits per second.  A 100 meg port can handle that just fine.

I think they learned their lesson with the Hub, which does have a Gig port, but probably was an expense they deemed added no value.

All the other troubleshooting (and fixes) you did do tend to show that the switch isn’t part of the issue.  But it sounds like it will remain a mystery as to what the problem was to begin with… 

I’d also really like to know how much more it costs to have gbit over 100 mbit given the quantities WD is buying at.