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Given the comments regarding the cost of true hardware RAID in some of my searches like here or here, it would appear that $500 solutions like Synology DS413, Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4, QNAP TS-419P must use software-based RAID. True? Are they using a hybrid hardware-software combo?

All manufacturers appear to offer some proprietary version of expandable RAID (Netgear X-RAID, Synology Hybrid RAID, etc). I believe these boxes run Linux inside, are these proven Linux software RAID algorithms that the manufacturers are branding, or truly proprietary? Any less reliable than tried-and-true RAID-1, 5, 10, etc?

I would just like to understand the internals of these machines a little better before trusting them with terabytes of important data. Thanks.

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closed as off topic by MDMarra, EEAA, John Gardeniers, Jeff Ferland, Sven Nov 29 '12 at 2:50

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Ask the vendor. You'll then get reliable information you can trust, rather than hearsay from the internet. Maybe some answers will get you the info you need, but it's much simpler to just deal with the vendor directly. – gparent Nov 29 '12 at 2:16
Regardless of what the internal architecture of these boxes are, you still need to have a backup system set up. RAID is not backup. – EEAA Nov 29 '12 at 2:16
Wow, can't believe I missed that. @EEAA is right, if you're relying on RAID for backup, you have no backup. – gparent Nov 29 '12 at 2:17
sorry, why all the downvotes? @gparent, do you think any vendor will voluntarily state that their proprietary solution is unreliable? – ExactaBox Nov 29 '12 at 2:39
@EEAA, what makes you think I am expecting RAID to be my sole backup? what does that have to do with the question? – ExactaBox Nov 29 '12 at 2:40

There's no point in re-inventing the wheel. I know that Synology and QNAP use mdadm (all bets are off with Netgear hardware). It's a tried and true solution, and in a NAS a huge cost saving and performance is OK. Given that new file systems like ZFS basically make hardware-level raid redundant, this is an OK thing.

The only time when it's not so great is for high throughput on heavy protocols like iSCSI. Then the challengine of pushing all that data, the iSCSI protocol and the RAIDing system will run the system to 100% CPU and 100% RAM easily.

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+1 thanks @Mark for the info about mdadm. Finding out whether these boxes utilize a widespread, common, tested utility is why I asked the question. Still don't understand all the downvotes. – ExactaBox Nov 29 '12 at 3:12
Probably because its about what people perceive as a non-professional product, which I disagree with; there are plenty of places in SMB that a qnap or other middle-range nas is right at home. In fact we have 3 qnap devices like you mention, hence why I know about their limits and downfalls. – Mark Henderson Nov 29 '12 at 3:47

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