We actually like the way the server's interface is organized as it's intuitive and self-explanatory. Most users will just need a few minutes to familiarize and know what to do without much help. This is especially helpful when it comes to enable the server's features and changing the RAID configuration. Most of the time, all you have to do is a few clicks.
By default the LaCie 5big Network 2 comes with two shared folders. One of them is public with no access restriction. The second one is private to the owner of the account that's currently used to access it. The admin users can add more accounts and can also change access restriction to the public share folder.
The server offers a self download feature that works well but is limited to free FTP or HTTP downloads. This means if you want to use it to download a large file from a subscription service, such as RapidShare, you're out of luck. The server also has support for iTunes and UPnP media streaming servers. You can just turn this feature on or off without being able to further customize from what folder the digital content will be shared, how often newly added content will be included in the share list etc.
Overall, the server supports Windows and Mac OS very well, as well as network media streamers. All of its features worked as intended in our testing.
Considering the performance of its predecessor, the LaCie 5big Network 2 performed well in our testing. It was nowhere even close to our top performers, however.
We tested the server both with RAID 5 and Auto RAID, which are supposedly similar since the reviewed unit comes with all five bays occupied. Since Auto RAID is designed to set up the drive in the best combination of storage space, data safety and performance, we assumed that it set up the drives in something similar to RAID 5. However, we found that the two offer very different performance.
In RAID 5, the server offer very good read speeds that average 83.1MBps, which is similar to that of most USB 3.0 external hard dive. However, its write speeds registered just around 25.3MBps, well below the average on our charts.
In Auto RAID, the server did better in write speeds scoring 29.5MBps but its read speed took a toll and reduced to just 41.1MBps. In comparison, the DS1511+ scored 99.2MBps and 109.9MBps for writing and reading, respectively, in Hybrid RAID.
In all, the LaCie 5big Network 2 isn't a slow NAS server, but it's much slower than other RAID-5 capable NAS servers we've seen.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
LaCie backs the LaCie 5big Network 2 with a three-year warranty, which is longer than the one-year warranty of many other NAS servers and the two-year of the Network Space 2. The warranty covers both parts and labor. Telephone support is offered Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST. At LaCie's Web site, you can download software that accompanies the device, its GPL source code, as well as have access to its documentation, knowledge base, FAQs and other ways to contact LaCie.
While we love the LaCie 5big Network 2 for its great look, practical design, ease of use and the large amount of storage, we were let down by its comparatively slow performance and lack of advanced features.