back to article Acer Easystore H340 2TB Nas box

Sporting four 3.5in drive bays, 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 1.6GHz Intel Atom 230, all governed by Windows Home Server, the latest edition of the Acer Aspire Easystore H340 series certainly piles on the features in a bid to replace any other storage/streaming/server type device you have ever bought. Sold in three configurations from 1 …

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  1. Michael
    Thumb Down

    no RAID?

    why? I like the idea, but I would need to have RAID support.

  2. Andy Towler
    Thumb Up

    Graphics spec?

    No word (that I could see) about the internal graphics specs...

    It seems to me that this would be a really nice home theatre machine to use with a big TV/Monitor, coupled with a wireless keyboard/trackpad on the coffee table. More storage than a Revo, saves having a separate server.

    But nothing in the review about whether its graphics are up to it - or indeed which graphic ports it has.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its a NAS box not HTPC

      There are no graphics so there are no graphics specs. Simple mmmm?

    2. dogged
      Boffin

      Nope, no RAID. Here's why.

      WHS doesn't do RAID. Instead, it takes any disks you add AFTER the primary/OS partition and amalgamates them into one big volume. Dynamically. So if you've got the 1-disk version of this thing and you add three more, your users don't have to map new drives and you don't have to configure your RAID; everyone just gets a lot more storage.

      This also applies to added external drives. For a home user, RAID is an inconvenience that they'll probably never touch. This system is a big improvement over it.

    3. Paul_Murphy

      If it has any.

      After all a NAS is not a computer - it's a storage system.

      See here for a rear-view (ooer missus):

      http://images.trustedreviews.com/images/article/inline/12870-img4428s.jpg

      ttfn

    4. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Graphics?

      It's a NAS, why the heck would it need graphics? Or even a GUI? That's the job of the front-end. Keep the graphics off the back-end (reducing CPU load, network usage and power consumption).

      Oh, wait, it runs Windows. Can't do that.

      1. Annihilator
        FAIL

        Lots of storage, lots of risk

        dogged - why would you want to dynamically throw the disks together? Not knowing enough about how Windows does JBOD, but any indication of what you'll lose if disk #3 fails? All data? A quarter of data? Does Windows give you a fancy GUI showing where each particular file sits so that you can get in indication? Any way of responding to a SMART error and replace a disk on the fly when it starts to fail?

        The clue on why RAID is needed is in the "R" of the acronym. I'm quite happy running my RAID5 array knowing that if a disk fails, I've got a fair chance of recovering my data. No RAID on a NAS is an absolute fail.

        1. dogged

          Redundancy is go

          As long as the master volume (OS volume) is secure, all disk in the array past the first are redundant. And can be of any size or format.

          For the home user, it's a real improvement over RAID.

          1. Nigel 11
            Thumb Down

            Absurd

            How can losing all your data when a disk crashes be an improvement over RAID for a home user? (As opposed to a business user? You mean, home users WANT to risk all their data on a single drive? )

            On Linux, I avoid RAID hardware and use software RAID (for 2- or 4-disk servers, simple mirrored disks rather than RAID-5). Why on earth can't WHS do anything like this? (Answer: perhaps because if it weren't a useless toy, it would eat into sales of expensive "proper" windows servers?).

            Anyway, if it doesn't have redundancy to protect your data from one failed disk, it's less use than a chocolate teapot.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Badgers

          Lots of risks indeed

          The fact that it runs on Hitachi Deskstar drives sets off DEFCON-1 alarms in my head. And the fact that it lacks hardware RAID makes it a major disaster waiting to happen.

          Warning: Having badgers around the device is enough to cause it to fail.

          1. Mark Boothroyd
            Go

            WHS does have redundancy

            WHS has selective redundancy, or data duplication as they call it.

            A single disk WHS has this switched off by default, as obviously it has no where to put the duplicate data, but a multi disk system has it on by default and automatically duplicates the data on to each disk, in essence software RAID and essentially halves your storage space, just like real RAID would.

            You can mix and match, i.e. if the data is already duplicated elsewhere, just select the folder and tell WHS not to duplicate that one folder, and you get the space back on the second drive for other uses, so you can have a mixture of duplicated and none duplicated data on the same system.

          2. Mark Boothroyd
            Go

            WHS does have redundancy

            WHS has selective redundancy, or data duplication as they call it.

            A single disk WHS has this switched off by default, as obviously it has no where to put the duplicate data, but a multi disk system has it on by default and automatically duplicates the data on to each disk, in essence software RAID and essentially halves your storage space, just like real RAID would.

            You can mix and match, i.e. if the data is already duplicated elsewhere, just select the folder and tell WHS not to duplicate that one folder, and you get the space back on the second drive for other uses, so you can have a mixture of duplicated and none duplicated data on the same system.

            It's basically RAID but a lot more flexible, which may not be ideal for a business user, but is spot on for the typical home user, which is what this is aimed at.

    5. Andy Towler
      Coat

      Apologies for brain fart

      Sorry for appearing to be intellectually challenged above. I must have missed the fact that it's just a NAS storage box, not a proper server. I think the words "Windows" and "Home Server" must have confused me :S

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No thanks

    No thanks.

    If I could get one without Windows Home Server and the McAffee crap then it might be considered, but I would never consider it with them. I find that Acer systems are of poor quality but I would at least try this before recommending to others, but since it has been infected with Windows and McAffee it becomes a big no no.

    The better option is to buy an empty box and make your own. It would cost about the same!

  4. BigRedS
    WTF?

    No raid support in WHS?

    Seriously? Does it refuse to work on a hardware raid, or is it just lacking software raid support?

    I'd always thought one major must-have feature of a big NAS was for it to appear as one big directory hierarchy which you can split as you wish. Is there some trickery for this in that box, or are you limited to four directories each of however-big-the-drive-in-the-caddy-is?

    'course, the other that I thought they all had was built-in redundancy...

  5. Mart 2
    Unhappy

    RAID

    No RAID, no interest, couldn't you have said that on the first page though so I didn't waste my time reading all 3 pages....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Environmental data

    Power Consumption (Idle and Standby) ?

    Noise ?

    I just bought a single drive NAS, it is fanless, uses 11W when running at full pelt (3 W standby).

    No fan, so the only noise is the hard disk (mainly noticable when starting up).

    What's the data on this device and could you comfortably run one in your home ?

  7. Sampler
    Thumb Up

    Not bad

    For the price, £400 for the 2TB - recently built myself something similar using the nicer looking Chenbro ES34069 and a Jetway Atom JNC92-330 which has a RAID5 4-port SATA daughter board, being the 330 it has a little more "umf" than the Acer and the RAID array allows me to use four 1.5TB drives in RAID5 for 4.5TB of redundant storage - the difference in price for 2TB drives was a little much to justify the extra space, which frankly isn't really needed anyway as this is only half full. Used WD Green drives to save a little more power too.

    All these slight improvements though ended up costing me around £850, so really I could've had two of those and been £50 better off ;)

    Still - the Chenbro looks tons better, great little case.

    Chenbro ES34069: http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=42

    Jetway Atom JNC92-330: http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=47#jnc92-330 daughter board: http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=34#modules

  8. Christian Berger Silver badge

    So to sum it up...

    Nice hardware, shitty software. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to spend money on a Windows box only to have a fileserver?

  9. Alastair Dodd 1
    Thumb Down

    all looks good

    apart from the McAfee installed sounds good but with that pile of god awful shite I'd be worried they had botched up somewhere else that will only appear after a couple of months use.

  10. Evil Graham
    Thumb Down

    No RAID?

    It might be a home-oriented product, but you're still going to feel sick when one of those drives fails. Unless you've got a 2TB backup solution, which most home users don't.

  11. Philip Hands
    FAIL

    NAS without RAID?

    What sort of idiot is going to put any data they care about where they are hostage to the reliability of a single disk -- hopeless.

  12. Fogcat

    Max 4Tb?

    Why is the maximum disc storage 4Tb? Why can't you install 2Tb discs?

    I'm on the lookout for a WHS box at the moment and current favourite is the HP MediaSmart Server EX490 but that only comes with a single 1Tb disc for £400, hovere you can add 2Tb disc to it yourself.

  13. Scott Mckenzie

    4Tb Capacity...

    ....and there was me thinking that 4 x 2Tb was equal to 8Tb.

    Shocking omission of RAID though, i was reading the article and viewing a replacement system for my MediaCentre with a decent RAID redundancy!

    Oh well...

  14. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Fail on many points

    No Raid - Fail

    Needs an AV bloatware package - Fail

    Runs Windows - Fail Fail Fail

    Hardware Spec - Ok.

    So Nice Hardware solution, shame about the crap software installed on it.

    My Qnap NAS device does an awful lot more than this OOTB and does not need AV!

    Where the mega fail icon then?

  15. Toolman83

    But can it withstand small children?

    Tactical nukes aren't in my living room, a 10 month old who loves cables & a 3 year old who loves throwing things / opening things are...

  16. Arnold Lieberman
    Stop

    Expensive

    Seems a lot of money for an Atom based PC. Alternatively, get a Sempron 140 (£30), 2Gb RAM (£30), M/b (£50), silent PSU (£30), 2Gb HD (£100) and case (£20) and you'll have a much more powerful server that uses about the same power (mine runs at 38w idle).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    No RAID = Pointless

    The box is utterly pointless without RAID. People are going to use it to store backups, photos, video etc etc - all the stuff that NAS is meant for. Then a disk fails and its all gone.

    Total unmitigated fail.

  18. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Does it support a SATA expander?

    The reviewer said: "...but still want to store more holiday snaps than you could ever take..."

    I'm not sure which HDDs the reviewer uses, but the largest I can find are 2TB, which gives a max of 8TB, which does just about cover my still photos, but not the videos.

    Does it support the use of a SATA extender to add extra sata devices?

    1. Annihilator
      Linux

      Ditto

      Have posted this elsewhere, but have built a similar system. Couldn't justify the Chenbro cost so did a bodge job with this:

      http://www.xcase.co.uk/Atomic-Home-Server-p/case-atomic-home%20server.htm

      Diskless was about £200. Recently went to a PicoPSU to remove the PSU's buzzy fans. One slow spinner at the front is all that's required now :-)

      Much like this NAS, the Chenbro suffers from what I see as a NAS-tax - drop the name "NAS" into the title and feel free to add £100 to the price.

      Tux, even tho it's FreeBSD based

    2. dogged

      They saw you coming

      If you paid £100 for a 2GB hard drive.

    3. Brian 6
      Flame

      @BristolBachelor

      "I'm not sure which HDDs the reviewer uses, but the largest I can find are 2TB, which gives a max of 8TB, which does just about cover my still photos, but not the videos." You don't half talk crap. If u took 10,000 pics a day, every day until u died U still would not get close to 8TB of pictures.

      1. No, I will not fix your computer
        Thumb Up

        8TB of pics is a lot.....

        ...but

        4Gb = 200 x 21Mpix RAW pics so 10,000 pics a day with 8Tb would come up in 40 days, so either you know that he's going to die soon (which is a little creepy) or your exagerated example is a little um... exagerated.

        1. Brian 6
          Happy

          @No I will not fix your computer.

          Yes but most of his pics are Jpegs, so I gave him 70 years pluss. And he doesnt shoot 10,000 pics a day or even 5,000 so I gave him a good 200 years to play with :)

    4. Mark Boothroyd

      What you describe is basically what WHS does

      Main WHS capabilities (from wikipedia):

      <quote>

      Windows Home Server Drive Extender is a file-based replication system that provides three key capabilities:

      * Multi-disk redundancy so that if any given disk fails, data is not lost

      * Arbitrary storage expansion by supporting any type of hard disk drive (Serial ATA, USB, FireWire etc.) in any mixture and capacity — similar in concept to JBOD

      * A single folder namespace (no drive letters)

      </quote>

      I would assume hardware raid would work, at least if it's real hardware raid that requires no drivers in the OS, as that should be transparent to the OS, but it's probably not required due to the stuff above.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it already has redundancy

      if it has more than one drive, it automatically has redundancy, get your facts straight before flaming.

  19. Jonathan White

    Huh?

    At that price, surely your 'non-technical' purchaser would be much better off with a Drobo?

  20. IanPotter
    Linux

    Other OSes?

    Any way to rebuild this thing with another OS, one that does support RAID for example? FreeNAS maybe, or a standard *NIX distribution if you are willing to do the integration work?

    1. Annihilator
      Boffin

      FreeNAS

      Was just wondering that myself. Initial thought was "yes", and would involve just putting the embedded version on a USB key. Second thought was how you would convince the NAS to boot from it as you won't get near the BIOS without a display.

      Third thought was, "where does WHS live?". Assuming it's buried in the storage "array" (using that term loosely) which is usually a no-no.

      I'm thinking tho, if you took all the disks out, put the embedded version on the USB key, it would probably default to booting from that for lack of any other option. If that's the case, wipe the HDDs, put them back in and use FreeNAS to build a software RAID5 array. The Atom is more than up to the job of handling the XORs.

    2. Annihilator
      Thumb Up

      re: FreeNAS

      Looks like I was mostly correct:

      http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?/topic/10916-freenas-on-acer-easystore-h340/

      Seems that there is a PCIex1 port inside this machine.

  21. Fogcat

    RAID & WHS

    The "no raid" comments on Windows Home Server reviews get a little tedious there is no RAID because it's designed that way - Home Server has it's own duplication system, described in plenty of places on line. Admittedly I had to do some research on it before I understood; but a little reading and now I do.

    I DO currently have a RAIDed NAS (an old Buffalo TeraStation) but I'm planning on going WHS for it's replacement for simplicity and ease of expansion and to have a little more oompf to run a media server.

  22. Fogcat

    Re: 4TB

    Rather confusingly Acer's own web site says

    Up to 2TB* SATA hard drive

    Up to four 3.5" hot-swappable** SATA hard drives supported, 4.0TB* maximum

    * When referring to storage capacity, TB stands for a thousand gigabytes. Some utilities may indicate varying storage capacities. Total user-accessible capacity may vary depending on operating environments.

    If individual discs can be 2Tb whey is the maximum storage limited?

    http://us.acer.com/acer/productv.do?kcond61e.c2att101=54825&link=oln15e.redirect&changedAlts=&CRC=2051720994

  23. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)

    RAID

    WHS has a mirroring system that you turn on by enabling "duplication". All files selected for duplication are stored on at least two drives.

    If a drive goes bang or is whipped out for upgrade, WHS will rebuild mirrored copies of files lost onto other drives or the new one added if only two drives are available.

    Not quite as detailed or configurable as a techy might want but it is aimed at home users who don't need to know how to configure RAID.

    So, yes, technically it doesn't have RAID but it does have redundancy features that are going to be more than good enough for 99% of "home" users.

  24. Steve Carr 1

    Too many uninformed comments here....

    I have had one of these boxes for around five months now, and love it.

    RAID - it doesn't have or need it! Instead it uses controlled dataset/share level replication of files across multiple spindles. Love one drive and the software automagically detects that you only now have one copy of any file you want duplicated for safety, and makes another duplicate on another spindle. Remove the failed volume and add another one *of any size* and you can add it to the storage pool. And did I mention it also has automated data deduplication, so if your users store the same file in multiple places, even on different shares, it quietly reclaims the space?

    Remote access from outside your private network via the cloud to your own home desktop box works a charm, too - and WHS controls the initial access, then steps aside so you're talking to the native CPU on your desktop machine, not the Atom.

    There's a raft of great WHS plugins too.

    Dump the provided MacAfee AV software - it sucks - and perhaps give try Avast for WHS a try. It works, though it ain't free.

    I reckon these boxes are a steal, and worth way more than the asking price.

    1. Evil Graham
      WTF?

      Speaking as one of the uninformed

      I am really glad to hear that it has a proprietary form of redundancy, that's lovely. But I don't feel too guilty, since the review didn't mention it at all.

    2. Annihilator
      FAIL

      @Steve Carr 1

      Care to comment on what happens if disk #1 fails, taking out the server OS and config with it, as well as a fair old chunk of user data that's potentially replicated on a different drive, but you've got no config to confirm it?

  25. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Pint

    Might be OK for average user with limited data storage, but not much cop for the rest with families!

    Alright average home user might be OK with it, but 4TB max? These days even the mums round my kid's school are into ripping torrent movies ( Mandy will deal them in due course no doubt! ) so some home users must be stacking up some serious SAN-style data requirements. I have a two 6TB NAS boxes for storage of the family's DVD rips and iTunes libraries. RAID is a MUST when you start storing so much stuff that there is no way you could possibly back it up.

    RAID means that I will hopefully never have to face the prospect of sleeping in the car, after having to face the wrath of kids and Missus demanding where the hell all their vids/MP3s/photos went! *shudder*

  26. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    FAIL

    Well Dah!!!

    This is a DLNA device so it is not network storage, it is a media storage device, presumabally for DRM'd media, hence windoze and no raid, how else are the copyright mafia going to make you pay for more downloads when the HD f**ks itself up.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    WHS and no graphics out = non-starter

    I looked into importing one of these (they've been out elsewhere for ages) but in the end built a higher spec machine in a Shuttle box with 2x1Tb drives for around the same money. Initially I put WHS on it but it was so terrible that eventually I moved to Ubuntu Desktop with software RAID.

    Main problems with WHS: buggy (services fail to start etc), obsessed with making backups of your other Windows boxes (hint Microsoft: there's nothing worth backing up on the other boxes, that's why I have a file server), MS's software-based file duplication just doesn't work. Oh and no rsync support.

    Also MS won't let the WHS OEMs include graphical outs on these boxes. Probably because then everyone would just wipe the disks and install a Linux.

  28. No, I will not fix your computer
    Boffin

    I don't use RAID for my NAS

    I have multiple NAS, physically separate, house/garage, gigbit ethernet nightly sync.

    Twice as many boxes (but they are less than half the cost), means I'm (better) protected from theft, power surge, flood, fire etc. in addition as the sync is nightly if I delete something I shouldn't have I can get it back from the slave NAS if I realise before the sync.

    I have RAI(NAS)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Max capacity

    Given I bought the 5TB version of this box off the shelf (2 x 1TB + 2 x 1.5TB), I would say that the 4TB limit isn't what some people think it is; as I understand it that's the compatibility limit for individual disks which isn't exactly a unique problem.

    I can live without RAID capability, it was never part of WHS and in any case the way the data duplication is implemented is robust enough and also has the advantage that you can select what should or should not be covered, rather than securing the entire volume.

    The hardware isn't bad but needed a modification to the cooling - originally the disks ran too hot, now the fan is reversed and the speed control is disabled they run at a much better temperature though at the cost of a lot more noise.

  30. MnM

    RAID isn't backup

    Some NASs power supplies were going pop a while ago, iirc, and taking the whole array with them. A second box, remote, preferably off-site, is the answer... initially sync locally, then rsync.

    A couple of questions, as I'm contemplating a WHS NAS:

    If a mirrored RAID array fails, will it take both disks with it? i.e. can the disks be read by a new array?

    With WHS, if the system fails, you could plug disks straight into any other box and read from them, though as Annihalator points out, it sounds like it will be a mess. Anyone done it?

    1. dogged
      Boffin

      System drive failure

      If the sysdrive fails, it is indeed a bugger. The only existing "solution" is to update your Recovery Disk every time you add software (not backup files or media, SOFTWARE) and hope that System Recovery works.

      Otherwise, you could build a new system drive without effort but but it would do you no good since WHS insists on wiping all storage you add to its dynamic storage array. The other option is to regularly back up your system drive (which should be miniscule, after all) by taking a disk image and writing it to an external drive which you keep somewhere else.

      1. MnM

        ta

        it does sound a bit sketchy! From what I've picked up, WHS is great for backing up other machines, but not so great at taking care of itself, and this may be sorted in the Vail release, which is based on Server 2008. Sounds like it's optimised for people who store their pics in My Computer, and not so much as a media server - hopefully Vail will change that.

        OS needs to be independent from data - perhaps this will end in diy happiness ;)

      2. No, I will not fix your computer
        Thumb Up

        sysdrive failure....

        Replace your single 3.5" sysdrive with a 2x2.5" mirrored raid "drive", physically the same size, not the cheapest solution but hardware raid quick (auto silvering etc) and presented as a single drive for simple configuration, they cost less than £40 + the two 2.5" SATAs of your choice, you could probably get the lot for less than £100 (no RAID card needed either).

    2. Annihilator
      Boffin

      re: RAID isn't backup

      Indeed, RAID is about protecting yourself from individual disk failure (or plural, depending on setup - we're of course ignoring striped RAID).

      A mirrored array generally doesn't fail. Either a) a disk fails = easy recovery or b) the controller fails = easy recovery as both disks can be read independently in any system.

      A decent NAS will cope with failure of the "system". In my case, the core of the system resides on a USB key (though could be CF, SSD, or regular HD, it's not actually an important disk - it's used at boot time and never again - it's also only 256MB, not 20GB like WHS - what is uses that for is beyond me), easily replicated or restored (the config file is saved elsewhere, only about 5KB). The disks would easily transfer to a different system. With WHS, as I've pointed out but not clearly enough THERE IS NO SYSTEM DISK. It's a partition living on one of the data disks. Any NAS that has such a setup is doomed to failure at some point in the future. Losing the disk with that partition on it is game over, no recovery. Hello single point of failure.

  31. Steve Carr 1
    Go

    Max storage is WAAAY more than 4GB

    http://kamlau.com/software/sans-digital-towerraid-tr4m-b-and-acer-easystore-home-server/

    This describes how to add a multiplexed external SATA enclosure, to give 4 more SATA drives, using the built in eSATA connector, and also two further enclusures, for a total of 16 drives, each 2TB or more, for a total of 32TB+ of storage.

    My suspicion is that Acer quoted the 4TB 'limit' way back when 1TB were the top end drive. As someone else has said, these machines have been available elsewhere for at least a year.

    The one limit that is there, though, is the 2GB RAM limit - this is as much as the Atom CPU installed can address, and the CPU is soldered to the board.

    There are also ways to add PS/2 keyboard, mouse, VGA and a true serial port, for those moaning that it is a headless unit. See this link:-

    http://www.mediasmartserver.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3980

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