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CNET to the Rescue: Slicing and dicing mass storage

CNET Labs guru Dong Ngo joins us on Rescue today to explain why you want network storage in your house, which products to look at, and which to avoid.

This week, we're talking about storage. What with people using multiple ways to access their data, and new technologies coming along to store it, managing the storage of your digital assets is now more complicated and interesting than ever. So today we're covering those issues, and taking your questions on the topic as well, with our special guest CNET labs technology editor Dong Ngo.

If you have a tech question for CNET to the Rescue, e-mail or call us to get on the next show: 877-438-6688. No question is too basic.

Now playing: Watch this: CNET to the Rescue Ep. 26: Mass Storage for the masses


Episode 26: Storage

Network storage
Why do I want it?

Speed and convenience

Multi-platform support

Streaming - to Roku, AppleTV, Tivo, Sonos, etc.

Web access and sharing

Products: Windows Home Server, PogoPlug, Synology, Ximeta, Drobo

Solid-state drives
Silent but expensive

What about hybrid drives?

Your questions answered
Ralph: I now have two computers that back up daily to a non-RAID NDAS 1T external drive. What are the Pros and Cons of NDAS vs. NAS? I would like my drive to be accessible for media files when my computer is turned off. Can I do that with a NDAS setup? If not, how do I change this to a NAS and set it up to be accessible.

Dong: NDAS = nonstandard (doesn't support TCP/IP), this means you'll need to install software on the clients (which might slow down the clients) to be able to access the device. Advantage (maybe): faster throughput.

NAS = standard, using TCP/IP = work out of the box, no software needed. Disadvantage: maybe slower, though currently can get over 100MB/s via Gigabit Ethernet, which is super fast.


Lawrence: I have a Drobo 4 bay with FW and USB 2.0. I am considering the Drobo FS but it is a 5 bay configuration. Can I take the four drives from the original Drobo and mount them into the FS and add the extra drive, or do I have to start from scratch and buy 5 new drives.

Dong: Physically you can, but you will lose all the information currently stored on the 4-bay. Consider a different NAS server (Synology or Netgear ReadyNAS).


Ivan: I was wondering if hibernating your PC will harm it in any way Because my PC hibernates rather abruptly with the hard drive spinning off way too fast , basically it doesn't sound too good. Is this something I should be concerned about or am I just too paranoid?

Dong: Some hard drives make a mild click sound when they turn off, that's normal. Hibernation is the same as turning off, the only difference is the computer saves information from RAM onto the hard drive before it turns off and then reloads that into RAM from the hard drive again, when it's turned back on.

Rafe: Your system might not be hibernating. It might just be going into standby.


Salvo from UK: Can hard drives be recycled? What is the best way to destroy the data on a faulty one before dumping it?

Dong: They can be only recycled as scrap metal. Format / erase it first. That's enough for all but the most determined or richest data thief.


Non-storage question
Kyle: I have a MBP 13-inch, last year's model, and I want a monitor for it. I need help because I love the Apple cinema display but it's way too much. I would like to spend between 200 and 300. I like something to have good ergonomic features and a sleek design. Please help me find the right one!

Rafe and Dong: Get a Dell or whatever looks good. Spend $49 for the adapter. You will save a bucket of money.


Elia: It took me a few tries but after speaking to two sales reps at AT&T-owned retail stores and a third customer service representative on the phone over a few weeks I was able to get a MicroCell for free. After speaking to a third CSR and re-explaining my situation; that the AT&T coverage maps show "GOOD" cellular coverage and "Mobile Broadband" is available for my area. I explained that the only time I get any service anywhere on the property is when the wind is blowing in the right direction and only to get a quick text message or e-mail. The phones being used are iPhone 3G, Samsung Impression, Motorola Razr, and other branded phones. I then explained that we have a Family Talk Plan with 3 lines and 1 iPhone data plan for a minimum total of $160 a month in billing, and that we have had the lines since 1998, 1999, and 2002 for each line, with the iPhone since 7/11/2008. The rep explained that she could not give me the MicroCell for free but that she can credit our cellular account for the current monthly bill ($170+) and then I went to the AT&T store to purchase the Microcell.