Most of the time here on The Digital Home, I talk about products that may seem more consumer-focused than a NAS soluion. And while this D-Link SATA RAID Gigabit NAS may seem like a more business-use device, think again. For a nicely affordable price and fantastic performance, the DNS-323 is a great addition to any home.
The DNS-323 is small enough to fit on a bookshelf and its black coloring helps it easily become part of any home setup. The front faceplate on the device comes off and reveals two drive bays that allow you to insert any SATA hard drive. A D-Link button on the face of the DNS allows you to power it on, while three LEDs tell which which drives are active and if there is any work currently being performed by the device. All in all, there's nothing too fancy about its design, but the DNS-323 doesn't need to be sexy -- it needs to work. And trust me, this works.
Setting up the DNS-323 took a matter of minutes. First, you need to find two 3.5-inch SATA hard drives into either or both bays. Once installed, simply plug the NAS into your router with the included Ethernet cable and watch as it assigns itself an IP address with the help of the included software. Once you format the drives and install the D-Link hard drive utility software on your home computers, you can begin the process of mapping drives and establishing RAID.
As you might guess, the DNS-323 is capable of copying any files from any computer (PC, Mac or Linux) in your home. Even better, you can access the files on the drives from any computer, which makes home file sharing simple and convenient. I found the Search Utility to work quite well and regardless of operating system, the DNS worked as advertised.
The DNS-323 offers four hard drive modes (Standard, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID1). Standard mode creates two separate and accessible hard drives for use on any computer. JBOD combines both drives to maximize your space. RAID 0 will give you the best performance and can read at speeds of up to 23MBps and write at 15MBps with the help of a Gigabit Ethernet connection Finally, RAID 1 causes the drives to mirror each other so your chances of losing important information are minimized.
For my testing, I used RAID 0 and found that it worked quite well. Uploading and downloading files and folders to the drive was easy and quick, but the aforementioned speeds that the company promotes were never actually witnessed. That said, it was speedy enough to justify its continued use.
One especially nice feature of the DNS-323 is its ability to send music and movies to UPnP AV Media Players. And as I'll discuss soon, D-Link's Media Lounge series of products is the perfect companion for this feature and streaming my media was quite simple. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to transmit protected or unprotected iTunes songs, so this feature may be useless to many.
If you're concerned about storage and you currently have files and folders that need backing up, the D-Link DNS-323 is a great place to start. For as little as $150 (depending on where you buy it), the device will continually save and store your most important information. That said, be aware that this is just an introductory product and you will need to buy your own internal hard drives in order to use it. But if you don't mind spending the money on some extra drives, you'll find a nice storage solution in the DNS-323.
Check back each Friday on The Digital Home as Don performs a hands-on evaluation of some of the hottest home products around. Next week: The XM XpressRC. If you want to see prior Hands-on Friday articles from Don, click here.