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NAS Web-Interface

As you have learned from the previous section, SmartNavi does not offer you access to all of the NAS’s capabilities. You have to use the NAS’s web-interface for that. When you go to its IP address, you will see two items: administration and media center. We will describe the former now: WebPASM or Promise Advanced Storage Manager.

After you enter the administrator’s username and password, you see a standard page with Promise’s traditional blue and orange colors. There is a menu tree on the right. At the top of the page there is a language selector and buttons for exiting the interface and evoking the Help system. The user is logged off automatically if he remains idle for 10 minutes. This is a helpful feature for absent-minded administrators.

Like in SmartNavi, there is a quick setup wizard available. It will help you quickly set the server’s name, IP address, protocols, users, shared folders and array type. The other menu items are more interesting, though.

The user and group management is the same as is available in SmartNavi, but the rest of the pages are more functional.

On the Protocol Control page you can not only enable network access protocols (Windows, Macintosh, FTP, UNIX/Linux) but also choose their parameters such as workgroup or domain for Windows, ports and encryption for FTP, and NIS server for NFS.

The File Sharing page is where you can set up shared folders and protocols for accessing them. After the first disk volume is formatted, a few shared folders are created automatically. You cannot delete them but you can make them inaccessible by disabling all of the access protocols.

The Sharing Setup page offers options for managing users’ access to resources. Take note that the Windows, FTP and Macintosh services have the same access rights to the shared folders. The NFS rights are issued to the specified client IP addresses only as “for reading and writing”.

The Application Plugins page is for managing plugins that enhance the NAS’s functionality, e.g. a media server or download station. You can enable/disable and install/uninstall plugins. At the moment of our writing this, there were no additional plugins available, so we could not check out where they might be stored. The default plugins are stored on a 90MB partition in the flash memory. These plugins will be discussed later on.

Managing arrays and disks involves creating, deleting or modifying arrays and specifying a replacement disk. The NAS supports RAID0, 1, 5 and 10. If a disk fails in a fault-tolerant array, you will hear a sound warning (if enabled in the settings), the indicators will change their color, there will be a message in the log file, and a notification will be sent by email. The array will be repaired automatically if there is a replacement disk. If there is no such disk, the user must replace the failed disk manually. The NAS supports hot swapping, so you can do that without shutting it down.

RAID arrays are built using LVM technology and standard Linux file-systems. So if the NAS fails, you can move the array to a Linux PC and access data.

A small drawback is that for the system to correctly identify a HDD, not only its first but also last blocks must be zeroed. There is no such problem with new HDDs, but the NS4600 may not recognize a HDD if it has already worked in an array.

The NAS can increase the size or change the type of the array without losing data. For example, a RAID0 can be enlarged or transformed into a RAID1 or RAID5. A RAID1 can be transformed into a RAID5 while a 3-disk RAID5 can be enlarged by one disk. These procedures require installing new HDDs. The documentation does not tell anything about enlarging a fault-tolerant array by sequentially replacing its disks with larger-capacity ones.

The file-system can be checked for errors. During this procedure the network access and all services are shut down. If there is a positive result, nothing is written into the log, which is not handy. The program’s report can be found in the administrator’s network folder.

The integrated backup tools and settings allow managing file-system snapshots, synchronizing two NASes over the network or enabling the button on the NAS’s front panel. It launches all tasks defined in SmartNavi and requires the latter to be installed on the PCs (this feature works with Windows only). Server synchronization helps increase data security somewhat but lacks any fine-tuning options (save for scheduling). Snapshots are a good solution when you need to store a few copies of large documents and yet to back them up quickly. The NAS supports up to four copies with a total “additional” size up to 80GB. You can make snapshots manually or by a schedule. The snapshot you make can later be connected via the web-interface to a special shared folder accessible to the administrator in read-only mode. Entering the snapshot, the admin can see the status of the NAS (with all its folders) at the moment the snapshot was made. This technology works for one volume only as yet.

The network settings are standard: name, address (DHCP is supported), Jumbo Frames (up to 16000), DDNS (one service provider is supported only).

The system-related features include viewing the log file, setting up notifications, updating the firmware, turning the sound alarm off, working with UPSes and power management. The server can send notifications via SMTP (authorization and port selection are available) to as many as 32 recipients. Firmware can be updated from a file located on the NAS, which is not very handy, but reliable. The same goes for plugins. The NAS is compatible with USB-interface UPSes from APC. You can set the NAS up for automatic shutdown basing on certain criteria. The power management options are limited to choosing the timeout for halting the HDDs in idle mode (the HDDs and volumes are independent in this respect), enabling Wake-on-LAN and Wake-on-Power features.

The final group of web-interface pages contains such settings as system time, shutdown/reboot, and system information (firmware version, network controller’s MAC address, current data transfer rates and hardware monitoring data including system temperature, fan speed and voltage).

Thus, the web-interface is simple but offers modern functionality except that the NAS cannot read SMART info and temperature of the HDDs and does not allow to work with the configuration file. The interface is accessible via encrypted SSL using a self-signed certificate.

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