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SHORT REVIEW: D-Link DNS-323 NAS

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
This is a copy of my review of this product on Amazon.com
* * * * *
I had a devil of a time locating a supplier for the D-Link DNS-323 NAS! D-Link was reporting out-of-stock for awhile and one morning, at 6:30am I found it available from D-Link. Apparently the demand is so high that they sell out within a day of the shipment coming in. Anyways...

I ordered the DNS-323 to allow me to store my DVDs for streaming to my HTPC in the living room. Setup was very simple but beware that using Firefox for a browser with this device will get you nowhere until after formatting. Also, although not mentioned in the very scant documentation, you will need to power-off the device after formatting a drive and re-power it for you to get anything on your browser-based setup. Otherwise everytime you browse to the device the only option it will give you is to "format drive".

Although it has a gigabit ethernet port, I am using it on a 100mpbs network and find it to be incredibly fast. I usually don't like D-Link products because I find they tend to fail after awhile of being on, but in this case the DNS-323 appears well-built and is very easy to use for my purposes.

i am running two Western Digital 500gb drives with firmware 1.01B in standard mode and had no problem at all getting it to recognise the drives.

Although I haven't tested it, the USB port only allows support for a USB printer but since the internal operating system is based on Linux, I expect this to change very soon to support an external USB hard drive or other USB devices.

Again, for my purposes I use it to store backup copies of my DVDs for streaming to my HTPC and it works fantastic for that. I especially like the configurable power-down timer for the hard drives. I have mine set for 30 minutes and, if nothing is being read or written to the drives in that time, it powers down the hard drives to save energy and wear (who watches DVDs 24/7 anyway?).

I have not used the advanced features yet (Ftp, Backup, etc) but would imagine that it would work well in that regard. Availability is sporadic as everyone seems to want a NAS with these features. I'm just surprised it took so long for a company to come up with the idea of using SATA drives in a NAS for a reasonable price!

Happy in Houston.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for posting this review. Does the D-link support hardware/software RAID ?
 

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
The DNS-323 supports Standard (two seperate drives - JBOD), Spanning (2 drives appearing as one large drive), RAID 0 and RAID 1.

As the box is based on a Linux platform, I'm not sure whether the RAID is hardware or software.

One thing I didn't care for with the current firmware is that if you put in one drive, format and add data to it, then adding a second drive will require re-formatting the first drive and then the second drive. This could be a problem if you don't have a place to temporarily store 500gb of data!

Overall I'm happy with it. Me and a friend played around with the built-in FTP server today and he was able to get to it just fine. The NAS supports Groups and Users with permissions assignable to different folders for either or both.

Excellent product for the price. I just ordered a second one today :lol:
 

rocco

Active Member
Thanks for the review, HoustonFirefox.

Ever since my WD-Raid problem, I have been NAS shopping. This one comes with a good price, but seems to be lacking software compatibility.

It only lists compatibility with Windows 2000 and XP. No mention of Mac, Linux or WinNT. No mention of Domains. Is it really that limited, or is it simply a documentation problem? I need to support Domains, WinNt and Linux.

It also says it requires Internet Explorer 6.
 

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
Rocco,

The DNS-323 box is based on Linux and supports either the EXT2 or EXT3 file system (your choice). Although I didn't see anything about Domains, it does support Workgroups but I expect this to change when D-Link updates the firmware.

This file system is native to Linux so I know you wouldn't have any problems. I read in a post a few days ago about a guy who hooked up to the box with his Mac OSX so I wouldn't expect any problems there.

After setup, you simply map a drive letter to the IP you assign (static or DHCP) or to the device name (you assign) and off you go. No drivers or other goofy software is necessary.

Just to add a bit to the review, it has built-in programs to Scan and fix any problems as well as an on-board disk defragmenter.

This is not an Enterprise-Level NAS, but is ideally suited to our needs for HTPC storage. I have been shopping for a NAS that supports SATA drives for some time now and felt that the models out there were really overpriced or only worked with certain drives. The DNS-323 is the answer to a long search. It does what it says it does, no frills, no mess. Just plop in any SATA drives of your choice, power it up and Go!

I really expected Vantech to come out with this box first since they have a proven record of inexpensive NAS enclosures - but they only support IDE drives! That is SO 2005 :lol:
 

dbinaz

Active Member
2 drives for a NAS is limited, I guess you could buy 2. I went with the USRobotics 4 drive sata nas. No probs so far. Does what I need.

D
 

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
True, 2 drives is somewhat limited for a NAS but considering the price point ($173 on sale) and over $500 for the competing devices it would be worth the price to buy two of these and have one back up to the other overnight (supports gigabit ethernet and backup from FTP).

I have one of these devices serving up backups of my DVDs (1 Terabyte, spanned across two 500gb drives), the other is my mission-critical stuff which is is in Raid 1 mode with two 300gb drives (mirrored). I figure if one of the DVD drives craps out I can replace it (keeping the data on the other drive) and re-image my DVDs to the newly-replaced failed drive.

Again, for less than $400 I have the best of both worlds. I think for HTPC stuff with static content (DVDs) that having more than two drives (mirrored) would probably be overkill. Nonetheless, you have the option of mirroring two 750gb drives if your movies are THAT critical :)
 

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
After two months of operation, I figured I would had a follow-up on my experiences with the DNS-323

1) Get the latest firmware (1.20 released 12/18/06) as it fixes several issues, but removes the Scandisk and Defrag capabilities. I have emailed D-Link about this and they will be putting it back in in a future version.

2) I use an HTPC in my living room and hook up with the DNS-323 over a 1gb network connection. Even at 100mpbs it is very fast on the video streaming. I use Snapstream.com's BeyondMedia with the DVD Library plugin to allow me to access the DVDs stored in the folders over a convenient interface using the FireFly remote. The video quality is flawless and all DVD options are intact (alternate endings, special features, etc).

3) I really apprecate the auto-power-down capabilities of the box. I have the hard drives set to power-down 30 minutes after the last access. What I didn't expect is that this happens intelligently; i.e; on a per-drive basis (a good thing) since other NAS boxes I've toyed with spin up all of the drives, even if just one of them is being accessed. A powered-down drive spins up in about 10 seconds to reveal its contents, quite fast in my opinion.

4) The enclosure (extruded aluminum) gets warm to the touch, but not hot. The fan is variable speed and intelligently ramps up as the drives get warmer. The fan is totally silent even when the drives are hot so that is a plus.

All told, I feel my $500 investment for on-line Terabyte storage is money very well spent. (DNS-323 at $200 and two WD 500gb Sata drives at $150 each). I don't really have any complaints to speak of and would definitely purchase it again.
 
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