Articles: Networking

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Getting Started

The 2big NAS can be shipped with preinstalled HDDs (2x2 TB or 2x3 TB) or without them. The compatibility list isn’t long but includes 2 and 3-terabyte products from the leading brands. You can also use disks supplied by LaCie. The NAS only supports 3.5-inch HDDs.

Installing firmware on new disks is an automated process, but you have to follow certain steps after turning the NAS on for the first time. If your NAS comes with HDDs, you only need to connect Ethernet and power cables to it and turn it on. After a few minutes the device will be configured and accessible via LAN with a single shared folder located on a RAID1 volume.

The included LaCie Network Assistant tool can help you find the NAS on your network, mount network disks, change the network address, and evoke the NAS’s web-interface for more configuring.

The interface supports HTTPS and is available in several languages. It has a fixed-size design which is modern and engaging. Except for the main page with settings, you can have multiple info widgets in the interface window, for example widgets with network settings, disk array status or external drive information. There are a lot of links to the manufacturer’s online resources, including tech support and product registration pages.

The 2big NAS lacks a full-featured help system but has popup hints for most options and links to the manufacturer’s website for some features. Besides the administrator, ordinary users can access the interface, too, but only to change their password. By the way, the NAS has a password recovery system similar to many websites: the user receives an email with a link to apply a new password. When the NAS is turned on for the first time, you are asked to set up its network name, admin password and internal clock.

The NAS can automatically check for and help install firmware updates. We used version for our testing. Interestingly, updates are only applied to the OS image on the disk volume whereas the flash memory retains the original version.

Basic Functionality

The NAS connects to a LAN via its Gigabit Ethernet port. As usual, you specify its network name, workgroup or domain name and IP address (manually or via DHCP). Additionally, you can set up a proxy server (it is used for the automatic firmware update service, for example). The network controller cannot work with Jumbo Frames but supports WoL.

Following modern trends, the device supports remote access. It has an integrated DDNS client and can work with LaCie’s MyNAS service. In the latter case you only specify your name without any registration. The required port translation is enabled automatically (via an UPnP router) or by choosing ports and setting the router up manually.

The NAS has no user-accessible means to monitor the temperature or S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard disks. The HDDs can be turned off when idle. The disk array (you can only have one array even with two HDDs) can be set at RAID0 or RAID1 (for two disks). If there is only one HDD installed, it will work in JBOD mode. When you later add a second HDD, you will be prompted to combine them into a RAID0 or RAID1 (in the latter case, without data loss). The disk volume can be formatted to quickly remove user data. GPT formatting is used for the HDDs. Besides a data partition, a few system partitions are created for a total of 5 gigabytes.

The 2big NAS supports iSCSI as a single volume. You can specify CHAP, Mutual CHAP and some other settings for it. The volume size can be changed (if there’s enough free space on the disk array) but only with the loss of all data.

Supporting a number of network protocols (SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP and SFTP), the 2big NAS allows enabling each of them for the whole device, but you can later disable them for particular folders. The protocols have no special settings. With the current firmware, exporting folders via NFS has no access restrictions for any clients.

User access rights are checked out against an integrated user/group database or Windows domain data. Interestingly, any user can be assigned the administrator’s rights. The system account “admin” can be replaced, too. The 2big NAS doesn’t support disk quotas.

The newly created disk array contains two shared resources: “Public” with unrestricted access and “Shares” for reading and writing by the admin. These folders can be removed if you don’t need them. You can also create more folders and specify their supported protocols and user/group access rights.

The support for a lot of access protocols and iSCSI is an advantage of this NAS, but we’d like to have more options to monitor the status of the installed HDDs.

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