Over the years, photographers accumulate huge numbers of photos and documents. The photos will definitely take a large part of your internal hard drive and soon, it will be too small. I was searching for a solution, but certainly not a simple hard drive. The solution should meet several requirements, such as storage for old files and backup of recent files on the internal disk, be compatible with Apple Time Machine and iTunes, RAID5 encryption (multiple disk solution) and last but not least be reasonably fast. Some time ago, I was able to view the DAS (Direct Attached Storage) solutions, as for example the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt (click HERE to read this review), but also a NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution, the LaCie 5big NAS Pro. This product can be bought without hard drives or with a pre-installed capacity of 10 or 20TB.
The LaCie 5big NAS Pro is an external hard drive with 5 internal hard drives. Depending on the model you buy (0, 10 or 20TB), the size of the disks varies (0TB obviously without disks...). I was able to test the 10TB version, which contains five identical Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB hard drives. Since this external hard drive is a "NAS"(Network Attached Storage), the possibilities are more extensive than a “DAS” solution. In combination with a router it can serve different people within the same network (or even worldwide). Points were NAS/DAS are equal, is on the way to safely encrypt the data in a RAID mode. Without getting too technical, but keeping it understandable: this means that data is stored in a safer way on multiple disks. There are different RAID modes, each with its pros and cons ... Personally, I’m a huge proponent of RAID 5, which might not be as fast as the RAID 0, but it’s very safe and it doesn’t require a large capacity. This mode is available for this model!
Unpacking and Installation
About unpacking we can be very short: LaCie raises no money in glitzy packaging or handsome bags & boxes. The hard drive is neatly packed in some foam and all cables, power supply and manual CD are stored in a separate white box. The connection is fairly simple: connect the power cord and connect the drive to your router using a network cable. Then go to your browser and type the following URL as "LaCie5big-NASpro.local“. The browser will show you a login page with the configuration of your disks. This starts with naming your NAS to the chosen RAID mode. Everything is presented in a very simple way.
Remember that your hard drives will be formatted when changing the RAID mode! So please make sure to take a backup first!
The capabilities of the LaCie 5big NAS Pro begin by logging into the web access via the LaCie Network Assistant (program you can download for free and install). Once you are logged in, you’ll get a nice overview with the different options. This allows you to go to "General Settings" the name of the NAS, change the language, but also change from Fahrenheit to Celsius or select the correct time zone. In the second tab, you can activate the different ways for file sharing. In the third (and last) tab, activate your services as "Duala Hybrid Cloud" backup, Time Machine, iTunes, etc. ...
As we are talking about a NAS, it is attached to a router and you have certainly granted rights for the different "Shares" (this will be discussed later). First, we start creating users & groups. For those who have experience with “Active Directory”, this is the "Dummies version" or otherwise, the super-light version. Just create a user and give him certain rights to different shares and add him to a group. This is all quite simple and perfect for small businesses.
The next step in the configuration is the creation of "Shares" or root directories. When you go to your external drive, you will see some main folders, which are called "Shares“. Those main folders contain rights for users (or groups). So if you want to block access on subfolders for certain users, remember this will not be possible!
Another feature is "Download”. This is ideal if you want to download heavy files. If the download takes several hours / days, it’s not necessary for your PC to continue to run. Just enter the URL of the file and the download will start.
In the part of monitoring and ecological thinking, the LaCie has a section called "Eco Management " which can turn the NAS on and off at certain times during the day/week and also after a certain number of minutes/hours of inactivity. In "Hardware Monitoring " you get another view of the state of your NAS and its various components, the warmth of your CPU and the different disks.
In the "Network" tab, we get more to the technical part of the NAS. The network connections, proxies and other technical components can be changed here. Remote access is suitable for granting access to your NAS from outside your network and "port forwarding" is then to change the default ports for services like download machine. Do you want to know all about this, please check the online manual.
"Storage" then continues to your hard drives and RAID encryption. Here you can change the RAID mode and also replace the hard drives if needed.
Change RAID mode = format all disks = everything is erased!
If you want to backup the data on your Mac, LaCie has several options depending on what exactly you want to achieve. Would you like to have a virtual copy of your Mac, then I would simply recommend Apple’s TimeMachine. This is a standard app on all Apple computers. You simply connect the NAS and in the settings of your Mac, you determine that this disk should be used as “TM disk”. If you like to create a manual backup of specific folders, use the software “Intro Backup Manager Pro” (free for personal use). This software allows you to backup or sync each folder. Incredible to see all possibilities! You can fine-tune so everything is automatically synchronized at certain times.
In order to keep all disks as cool as possible, LaCie has built a system in which there is cool air sucked in from the bottom edge and brought to the back side through all disks, all without noisy fans. You hear the disk spinning, but it is never distracting even if the drives are stored on your desk.
The LaCie 5big NAS PRO is really top! The possibilities for an IT expert might not be comprehensive enough, but for a small business, this is more than enough. Everything is setup very simple and with the RAID5 encryption you will have a safe external drive that looks nice too. The price has been fixed at 509 euros for the disk-free version (remember that you must provide five hard drives on top of this). For the 10TB version, you will have to pay 1099 euros and a double capacity will cost you another 860 euros extra. (Official prices include VAT)