The NAS package was quite spartan. The contents of the box included the following:

  1. LaCie 5big storage server
  2. Cat 5E Ethernet cable
  3. 150 W external power supply
  4. DVD / CDs for server restore / miscellaneous software
  5. Getting Started guide
  6. Drawer key to lock / remove the storage drives

The storage server unit weighed in around 8 Kg, but was surprisingly diminutive considering that it packaged 5 3.5" hard drives inside. LaCie has always been known for its excellent industrial design, and the 5big storage server is no exception. It is beautiful to look at, but we all know that in the NAS area (particularly in professional file sharing appliances), looks are never the factor in a purchase decision.

The blue LED lamp up front seemed a touch annoying in the beginning, but its brightness could be controlled from within the OS. It also doubles up as a switch to power up the appliance. Thankfully, it is recessed to ensure that the unit is not accidentally switched off.

Considering that the NAS comes with dual GbE NICs, it would have been nice if LaCie had packaged in 2 Cat 5E cables instead of just one. The diminutive size of the appliance is enabled by going in for an external PSU. This is one of the bulkier power supplies you are likely to encounter, rated at 150 W.

The Quick Start Guide provided by LaCie is good enough for a company without dedicated IT staff to get the unit up and running. However, Windows Storage Server 2008 has a lot of features. End users who are not familiar with NAS units are likely to get overwhelmed. Though LaCie does carry some technical briefs to set up RAID configurations and NFS / SMB / AFP shares, we would have preferred a FAQ to be created. We encountered quite a number of issues which weren't covered in the technical briefs, particularly for iSCSI setup.

Our review unit had 5 Seagate Barracuda 7200 rpm 1 TB drives bundled inside. Our understanding is that Seagate drives are not exclusive for the 5big server, as we have seen some units with Samsung drives inside them.

As can be seen in the above picture, the drives are not user replaceable without voiding the warranty. Considering the premium that LaCie demands for these standard 1 TB drives, we found the restriction a bit harsh. However, LaCie offered us the reasoning that they wouldn't want to service a unit with some drives not officially sanctioned by them.

As mentioned in the previous section, the 5TB version of the NAS has around 3.5 TB space for data. The Server Manager program can be used as a one-stop shop for all the management tasks. The disk management snap-in shows how the disks are partitioned in the default setting.

The Hardware Monitor program serves as a way to adjust the fan, LED and power management settings.

Dynamic link aggregation (IEEE 802.3ad) is one of the advertised features of the 5big storage server. It was quite simple to set it up from the Device Manager console, as shown in the pictures below. Dynamic link aggregation allows us to view the 2 GbE NICs as a unified 2 Gbps link.

In the next section, we will explain our testing methodology and how the testbed setup gets connected to the 5big storage server configured as above.

Introduction Testing Methodology and Testbed Setup
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  • Guspaz - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    What's with the crazy partitioning scheme? They've got 102.54GB dedicated to swap...

    It looks almost like they decided on 34.18GB system partitions, and decided to just throw the rest into swap to use up the space. They could have shrunk that to 20GB, and put four of the partitions in RAID-10, with swap on the system partition. Or they could have had four 17.09GB partitions in RAID-10 for the system, and the remaining 17.09GB partition as swap; do you really need redundancy on the swap partition?
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    Are you sure that's for swap?

    I'm not sure about Server 2008, but Win7 has a partition meant to aid in recovery of the OS in case it bombs. I believe that partition is about 100MB in size. Perhaps Server 2008R2 has the same?
  • DoveOfTheSouth - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    Somerthing you didn't cover and I think is very important for a small business NAS, is automatic client backup software.
    Does the LaCie come with any? If it does, how many licences? If not, I think you should mention it - some of the competitors do.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    I suspect not. LaCie sells a 5big Backup Server for this purpose. I will try to clarify with them (there was no explicit software for backing up clients, though you could obviously backup the server itself using an WSS 2008 option in the server manager)
  • jabber - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    For NAS boxes I use Cobian. Its the only solution simple enough for folks to get to grips with and that will easily do backups to or from a NAS box.

    So many back up apps go mental if you introduce NAS boxes. Why they should in this day and age I have no idea.

    Cobian just works.

    I think a lot of manufacturers forget this aspect. That many small businesses (1 ro 6 people) dont either have the funds to run a continuous IT support contract or want to have to call in an IT support guy every 5 minutes if they want to change something.

    With the economy the way it is, there are a lot of new small firms like this that the IT manufacturers really are not catering to and they are missing a trick.

    Cut the IT babble front ends and just let it do the simple stuff in a logical manner.
  • unblocktheplanet - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - link

    I use a Mac and I’ve always had good luck with LaCie. I want to stream my movies and music to a networked DVD player as well as using my NAS for backup.

    I’m evaluating LaCie 5big Network, Synology DS1010+ or Seagate BlackArmor 4-bay NAS 440. My needs are pretty simple.

    But then I got to SOFTWARE RAID on LaCie! Sure about that? That would be a deal-breaker for me, the cause of numerous problems on my current external storage.

    As I live in Bangkok, I don’t have the ease of returning the unit to the US for service or warranty.

    Thanks much.
  • Hrel - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    Can you guys review a few of those new NAS boxes built on ARM processors please?

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