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MicroNet G-Force MegaDisk NAS Review

If you have been following my Twitter feed, you know that I just ordered a 1TB NAS last week for the office network here. I wanted some no-fuss storage sitting on the network so I could backup my data and store some archive information there instead of burning everything to DVD. (In reality, I’ll still probably burn archive data to DVD just to have a backup.)

Earlier this month, MicroNet released the G-Force MegaDisk NAS (MDN1000). The features were good and the price was right so I bought one. It finally arrived today and I’ve been spending some time getting to know the system and performing some benchmarks.

When opening the box, the first thing that surprised me was the size of the device. It’s really not much bigger than 2 3.5″ hard drives stacked on top of each other. The case is pretty sturdy, made out of aluminum, but the stand is a joke. Basically, two metal pieces came with rubber pads on them. You’re supposed to put a metal piece on each side to support the case. It’s not very sturdy, and a pain to setup like this, so I doubt I’ll use them.

I had a few problems reaching the device on my network when I plugged it in. I had to cycle the power a couple of times before I was finally able to pick it up on the network and login to the web interface. I’m guessing future firmware updates will make the setup process easier. It’s running Linux, which is nice. The firmware version is 2.6.1, so I’m guessing that means the kernel is version 2.6 (nmap identifies it as kernel 2.6.11 – 2.6.15). Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before someone’s hacked it with ssh access. MicroNet’s website claims there is an embedded dual-core processor on board, which again sounds pretty cool. The OS requires just under 61MB of space on one of the hard drives. There are two 500GB drives in this unit. Both are Hitachi (HDT725050VLA360) models, which are SATA2 drives that run at 7200 RPM with 16MB of cache. From the web interface, it looks like the disks are mounted at /dev/hdc and /dev/hdd.

Disk management is pretty straightforward. You can select a format for each disk (ext2, ext3, fat32), and there is an option to encrypt the content on the disk. The drives are monitored via the SMART interface, and you can view the reports in detail via the web. By default, the drives come in a striped RAID format, but I was able to remove the RAID and access each disk separately (contrary to the documentation’s claims). Unfortunately, for some reason I was unable to access the second disk over NFS. It looks like you might be able to mess with the web configuration page to get around this limitation though.

Moving on to the RAID configuration, you can choose between RAID 0, RAID 1, and Linear (JBOD). Ext2 and ext3 are your filesystem options. Building a RAID 1 took a very long time (~ 4 hours), which I’m guessing is because the disks require a full sync of all 500GB of data when initializing such a partition.

So let’s bust out the benchmarks! I benchmarked by performing 2 different copies. One copy was a single 400.7MB file (LARGE FILE), and the other was a directory with 4,222 files totally 68.7MB (SMALL FILES). All tests were performed over a gigabit Ethernet network from my 2.5Ghz G5 desktop machine. Transfers were done via the Terminal with the time command, to remove any human-error from the equation.

A note about testing Samba with SMALL FILES: I started running a write test and let it go for around 8 minutes. At that point, it was still only done copying around a quarter of the files, and the transfer rate averaged less than 20KB/sec. This was absurdly slow, so I didn’t bother waiting for the full test to go through. It’s difficult to say if this is a limitation of the NAS, Samba, Mac OS X or all of the above.

Striped RAID (Standard) NFS Samba
Write LARGE FILE 1:13 (5,544 KB/sec) 0:42 (9,542 KB/sec)
Read LARGE FILE 0:42 (9,769 KB/sec) 0:35 (11,723 KB/sec)
Write SMALL FILES 3:46 (310 KB/sec) DNF
Read SMALL FILES 0:39 (1,759 KB/sec) DNF
Mirrored RAID NFS Samba
Write LARGE FILE 1:17 (5,328 KB/sec) 0:47 (8,730 KB/sec)
Read LARGE FILE 0:40 (10,257 KB/sec) 0:41 (10,007 KB/sec)
Write SMALL FILES 3:44 (314 KB/sec) DNF
Read SMALL FILES 0:43 (1,636 KB/sec) DNF
Separate Disks NFS Samba
Write LARGE FILE 1:13 (5,620 KB/sec) 0:43 (9,542 KB/sec)
Read LARGE FILE 0:46 (8,919 KB/sec) 0:35 (11,723 KB/sec)
Write SMALL FILES 3:11 (368 KB/sec) DNF
Read SMALL FILES 0:42 (1,675 KB/sec) DNF

All of these were using standard mounting, either through the Finder’s browse window, or mount -t nfs with no options on the console. I decided to try tweaking the NFS parameters to see if I could squeeze any more speed out of it. The following results are all using a striped RAID configuration…

no options wsize=16384
rsize=16384
wsize=16384
rsize=16384
noatime
intr
Write LARGE FILE 1:13
(5,544 KB/sec)
1:00
(6,838 KB/sec)
0:59
(6,954 KB/sec)
Read LARGE FILE 0:42
(9,769 KB/sec)
0:32
(12,822 KB/sec)
0:32
(12,822 KB/sec)
Write SMALL FILES 3:46
(311 KB/sec)
3:47
(310 KB/sec)
3:09
(372 KB/sec)
Read SMALL FILES 0:39
(1,759 KB/sec)
0:42
(1,675 KB/sec)
0:40
(1,758 KB/sec)

In summary, while this NAS isn’t necessarily the fastest out there, it’s certainly fast enough, especially after some tweaking. A RAID configuration doesn’t necessarily improve performance on this device. All of the transfer rates were about the same, regardless of format. You’ll notice slightly slower speeds for a RAID 1, but the difference is minimal. Before tweaking, Samba had a clear lead in transfer rates on large files, but it was completely unusable with smaller files. After modifying the NFS mount parameters, it seems to give the best of both worlds.

Update: I researched the Samba performance (or lack thereof) and found that it is not the fault of the NAS. Using a Windows XP box, writing small files went at a reasonable pace (around the same as using NFS above). Then, testing from my MacBook Pro with an OS that shall not be named, performance was similar to the Windows XP machine. I’m going to attribute this to a bug in the Samba code between version 3.0.10 on the G5 and 3.0.25 on the MacBook Pro.

48 Comments

  1. Mike, great and thorough review, thanks for posting! I am awaiting Leopard’s release sometime soon, and I wonder whether Apple has published (or will publish) any recommendations for the capacity of external storage in order for Time Machine to run well. I am thinking of something along the lines: “For an internal drive of x GB capacity, have at least y GB of external storage for back up.” (or perhaps something more detailed that assumes a writing rate & yrs of intended ownership.) The reason I am asking this is to put into perspective the 1TB that this MegaDisk NAS device has to offer. Does Apple plan to make such statements? Can you even answer this without violating some NDA with them 😉 Thanks! –Olga

  2. I’m not sure if Apple is planning to make a statement of the amount of space Time Machine requires or not. At best, the requirement would be a general guideline, and it highly depends on how many versions of files you want to keep. Storing the last 2 months of changes will take a lot less data than the past 6 months, for instance.

    In my experience, having 2x the backup space as you have files is a good ratio to use. This should give you several months of backups as long as you don’t make a lot of changes to large image or video files.

    A lot of the data you backup will never change. For instance, Mac OS X and your applications probably take around 20Gb of space, and for the most part these files never change and only have to be backed up once. Same thing goes with your music and photos. Music probably doesn’t change at all after the initial write. Photos can be modified, but usually not repeatedly, so you’ll maybe need twice as much space as the original photo size, and that’s only for photos you actually edit. Movies probably take the most space, and again it’s rare to actually edit them after you’ve finished a project in, say, iMovie. As far as documents that change frequently, most of these are text-based documents that are tiny in comparison.

  3. Yes, I agree about the 2x rule of thumb, it seems reasonable. And the files that are likely to have many versions are also like to be small, relatively speaking. It will be interesting to see what Apple says about the matter. I am very interested in Time Machine. But the features I am eagerly awaiting are far more trivial: the ToDo capability in Mail (right now I email myself notes too often!), and coverflow for Finder (I am very visual and it looks promising).

  4. You mentioned that the device allows you to select between three filesystems: ext2, ext3, and FAT32. Does this choice affect the ability of computers to mount it? For example, can a Mac connect to the drive over the network if both disks are formatted in the ext3 format?

    It would really stink to have to use FAT32 because of its small file size limits.

  5. The filesystem choice does not affect the ability of other OSes to mount it. The NAS handles reading and writing to the disk, client computers don’t know anything about what is happening at the disk level.

    Right now I have a RAID 0 configuration on the NAS with the format set to ext3, and Mac OS X doesn’t have any problems mounting and using it.

  6. Thanks for the quick answer, Mike. And thanks also for this excellent review!

  7. This is the first review that I have found for this product! Thanks so much.

    Do you know if it uses the Firefly media server, the older mt-daapd, or something else? Have you contacted Micronet about the Samba problem? Have you tried out the Bittorrent client?

    (Sorry about all the questions, I have been searching for information on this thing for 3 weeks)

    I am very close to picking up one of these, but I just don’t know much about Micronet.

  8. Frank:

    No problem… I knew I was taking a bit of a risk purchasing before any reviews came out. So far I’ve been pretty happy with the box. There was once or twice the box crashed right after getting it, but since then I’ve transferred several hundred gigs to/from the device without any problems.

    I haven’t talked to Micronet about the Samba performance with smaller files. It almost seems like protocol overhead. Copying so many small files in a row will slow the network bandwidth down to around 20-30 KB/sec, which is pathetic for a gigabit network. The same transfer over NFS was at least getting a few hundred KB/sec. It doesn’t seem to be CPU bound on the NAS, because if I start a copy of several small files from one computer to the NAS, and then start copying a single large file from another computer to the NAS, the large file still transfers at full speed while the small file copy pokes along. With my backups, it hasn’t been as much of an issue, so I haven’t felt the need to get in touch with them about it yet.

    I can’t find any official documentation on which media server it’s using for iTunes sharing, but when using FTP to login to the NAS, I came across a directory called .daapd-cache, so I’m assuming it’s using mt-daapd. I haven’t tested the media server yet to give you any more details here.

    Finally, I haven’t had a chance to really try out the Bittorrent client yet. From the web interface just now, I was able to choose a torrent file to download, but it didn’t give me any feedback. The activity light for the NAS port on my switch is flashing, so it looks to be doing something. It claims files will be in a certain directory when the download is complete, but I haven’t been able to come across any status messages on the individual transfers. Maybe they’ll develop this feature a bit more in a later firmware update.

    Let me know if you have any other questions…

  9. Mike,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to all of my questions. I’ll keep checking back to see if you post any updates to the review.

    Regarding the iTunes server, Firefly is a reincarnation of mt-daapd and still uses that name, so there’s no telling which one is installed on the Megadisk. We’ll probably have to wait on someone to gain ssh access before we know the answers to a lot of these questions.

    For more info on Firefly/mt-daapd, check out http://www.fireflymediaserver.org/

    Thanks again,

    Frank

  10. Ahh, okay. I’m completely out of the loop when it comes to Mac-related services on Linux, as I tend to keep the OSes separate on my network for some reason. Anyway, I did find some additional information here. Basically, I telnetted to port 3689 on the NAS to connect to the music server and sent it just some random text. It responded with an error that included the version of the software in use: mt-daapd 0.2.4. Checking the link you posted, it looks like that’s the latest stable version.

  11. Mike– I’d like to add my thanks for your thorough testing.

    I just bought one of these, and I’m immediately frustrated by the ridiculously long time it’s taking to “format” a RAID 1 volume. There’s no data on the drives to copy over (except for the very small OS, of course), so there’s no reason it should take this long. I’m hoping a future firmware release will fix this (adding a quick format option for example), but do you have any insight as to why it would take so long? This problem, combined with the fact that it had to be powercycled several times before it would pick up an IP address and become available to configure has me fairly worried that I won’t be able to rely on it to rebuild properly in the event of a disk failure or OS crash.

  12. Geoff: I was a little concerned when it took a few reboots to get the thing on the network at first too. Since then, I haven’t had any problems with accessing it on the network, so I’m really hoping that won’t become an issue later on down the road.

    As for the RAID 1 format, that’s a limitation in Linux, and not with this particular NAS. Whenever you create a RAID 1 device on Linux, it must go through and make sure all the data is exactly the same on both disks. If you think about this, it makes sense. The OS needs to know when one of the disks fails, but the only way to do that is when it detects the data on one disk is not the same as the same block on the other disk. If the blocks don’t match up to begin with, there’s no hope in detecting a failure in this manner. I suppose it could be smart enough to know just where there are files on the disk, but that would require the RAID code to be tied together with the filesystem code somehow. Right now, they are independent…the RAID code knows nothing of the filesystem, just that it needs to write/read data from this spot on the disk. The advantage of this design is that you can put any filesystem on top of the RAID and it just works.

    Thanks for posting your experiences here. Since you’re the first person I’ve come across with this device, I wanted to ask if both the red and blue lights on your NAS are lit at all times? I was originally under the impression that the red light was just to signal an error, but I called the company on this and they said the manual was incorrect and this is normal. Are both lights lit on your NAS as well?

  13. Just a note to the folks wanting to use an NAS for Time Machine. Take a look at this brilliant article from AppleInsider about the technical aspects of Time Machine (http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/07/10/12/road_to_mac_os_x_leopard_time_machine.html&page=2). It’s really interesting, and for me it answers a lot of the questions I had about how the backup would work.

    If you’re not so technically inclined, I’ll go ahead and answer the big question for you. Time Machine takes advantage of an aspect of the HFS+ filesystem that is not present in NTFS, Fat32, Ext2, or Ext3. Therefore (and sadly for those of us wanting an NAS), Time Machine requires a disk formatted HFS+. This severely narrows the choices for an NAS server to, as far as I know, strictly the Apple Airport Extreme.

  14. Ah, just found that the Lacie network drives support HFS+ formatting through the AFP network protocol. Thus fulfilling the requirements to be used by Time Machine.

  15. Kevin:

    That’s surprising because it seems like a lot of people and companies have invested in network storage over Samba/NFS using Windows/Linux servers. I wouldn’t be surprised of Apple offers maybe a less capable version of Time Machine for these types of disks at a later point in time.

    I wonder if backing up to a DMG file stored on a non-HFS+ partition will work…

  16. Thank you for your review. Could you comment on how quiet the unit is? Assuming it uses a fan, how noisy is that and how often does it seem to come on? Do the drives spin down?

    Thanks…

  17. I realize noise levels are a pretty subjective topic, so take this with a grain of salt. I do appreciate a quiet machine and try to avoid fans when purchasing devices if possible. I consider my older G5 desktop is a bit too noisy for my taste and my MacBook Pro is fairly quiet, so this just gives you an idea of my tolerance levels.

    That said, noise levels are fairly average for this device and maybe just a tad higher than I was expecting. The fan seems to have two different speeds, off (or very slow) and on. When the unit is first powered up, the fan doesn’t make any noise and you can just hear the disks. Apparently, once the temperature inside the case hits a certain level, the fan turns on. In my office where temperatures range between 70-78 degrees, it took maybe a minute for the fan to turn on, and it doesn’t turn off after that. The unit itself is cool to the touch, so I think the fan may turn on a bit prematurely.

    When the fan is spinning, you can’t hear the actual impeller whine or anything like that, but you do hear the air flow resonate a bit through the case. I positioned the NAS over on the other side of my office, and while I can distinguish it from the computers closer to me, it doesn’t stand out and is definitely at an acceptable level. I wouldn’t have any problems setting the device on my desk either, it just happens that most of my network equipment is on the other side of the room.

    The disk accessing itself is pretty quiet in the drive mechanisms they used. Only very rarely can I hear the disk heads seeking. In the web interface you can set a disk spindown time to quiet the drives when it’s not being used. I usually dislike having to wait for drive spinups, so I don’t use that setting.

  18. Thanks for this great review.
    Is there any reason for a Mac/PC household to get this drive instead of the LaCie 1Tb NAS?
    I see this one
    Lacie 1Tb 7200 RPM D2 BIG Disk Gigabit Ethernet / USB2 HDD for $285 so they seem comparable. There’s a better description here
    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/29905/75/

    one question remains: what to format it? NTFS still isn’t supported in Leopard, and HFS+ requires extra software on Windows. I haven’t seen ext2 or ext3 discussed in the descriptions I’ve read online. Because it has a USB2 connection you could use it as an external hard drive.
    Thanks much– Nico

  19. While, I haven’t researched the Lacie drive much, it seems like they are pretty comparable. If you want to use Time Machine for backups, you’ll need an HFS+ drive, which the MegaDisk does not support. So that’s definitely something to look at. At the moment, Time Machine does not support backing up over the network to anything but another Mac, but it’s something that should be supported down the road.

    Usually the hard drive format doesn’t matter with a NAS. The NAS is it’s own computer, just sharing out files to the network. Other computers, whether they are running Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux, just talk to the NAS over the sharing protocol like Samba, NFS, or AFS. The client doesn’t need to know anything about what kind of filesystem is on the drive. Since the MegaDisk’s units are running Linux, to me it makes the most sense to use ext3, as that is the commonly accepted “standard” filesystem type for Linux.

    Hooking up the Lacie to a computer over USB definitely throws a wrentch into things though. In this case, your client computer would need to fully support the filesystem you are choosing. In general, if you only hook up the device to your Mac, I would go with HFS+, but if you use it over USB on a Windows machine, then NTFS is the way to go. Personally, I would avoid hooking it up over USB altogether. The whole point of the device is to sit on the network, and be available for multiple computers.

  20. Mike, Thank you for the review. I’m not a tech person, just a user of the G-ForceNAS m1000 set to RAID1. I wanted a media server controlled by my Dell laptop using iTunes that I stream to a stereo with Airport Express. The iTunes server feature works but with limitations. You don’t have the full interface of that library. I ended up just putting the library in the NAS Admin folder instead of the supplied Music folder and directing iTunes to that folder. The drawback is that I have to reset the folder in iTunes every time I log on as it defaults back to the local My Documents folder. Any ideas on a better setup would be appreciated.

    The print feature works great with the printer attached to the USB port on the NAS as long as it was set up as a new local printer, add new port, Click Local Port, click New Port, and then type the server and printer name for the printer in \\ServerName\PrinterName syntax. This was from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314073. It’s fast this way but was really slow when I put the driver on the NAS and used it as a network printer. (My first network try so I may have had it set up all wrong)

    The GForce m1000 is somewhat noisy. We have a small house and it can be heard from another room. So I turn it off at night and have to go through that same try and try again to log back on. Again ignorance may be a factor.

    Your testing was very interesting and I’m going to try to understand it with research. I’ve found that data transfer to and from locally attached ext hard drives is much faster than transfers with the NAS. Any suggestions on a network tutorial. (windows laptop, att&t wireless gateway, GeforceNAS & Airport Express)

    Lastly, any ideas on how to defrag the GForce? It doesn’t show up in Windows disk defragmenter.

  21. I’ve just setup the MDN1000 on my home network. I was planning to access it via
    NFS from my solaris 9 system and from a linux system. It seems to work well
    with one caveat. I can’t find a way through the UI to setup no_root_squash
    for the exports from the NAS. I’ve sent an email in to their support, but no response yet.
    The ramifications of this are that any files created on that server as root, take on the owner “nobody”.
    Anyone have any ideas on this?

  22. Dennis:
    I haven’t used the NAS from Windows much yet, so I’m not sure what the best way would be to setup printers, mounting and such. Maybe someone else can chime in here with a few suggestions. Performance from my Windows box seemed just as good if not better than the G5, most likely because of the version of Samba Apple is using on Tiger. I didn’t do any solid benchmarks, however.

    I’m surprised you can here the device from the next room. Maybe the other computers I have in my office drown out the sound, but I can’t here it from even the hallway outside my office, let alone the next room. Are you hearing fan noise, disk accessing, or just the rotation of the disks?

    With regards to fragmentation, you shouldn’t have to worry about it on the NAS unless you switched the filesystem from ext3 to something else. On Windows filesystems, fragmentation is a hot topic and people often notice large speed improvements after defragmenting partitions. On Linux and Mac OS X this isn’t an issue. Mac OS X, for example, will automatically defragment a file when you open it if there is enough space on the disk to do so. The ext filesystem spaces out file allocations when you write files to the disk, so it’s pretty rare for the disk to become fragmented unless you have less than ~10% of free space.

    Andy:
    I ran into the same problem with file permissions. Any file I created via NFS was unable to be modified when the share was mounted over Samba. I still haven’t found a solution to this, so if you hear back from support or discover a fix, please post it here.

  23. Mike, I wasn’t clear — are you using a gigabit router or switch?

  24. Nico:

    I am using a gigabit switch here (8 port Netgear). The NAS and the machines I was testing with are hooked directly up to the gigabit switch. Given the throughput peak for gigabit is somewhere around 120MB/sec (I frequently see about half that rate between two other machines on the network), the tests I performed should not be limited by physical network hardware.

    If you have any other questions, let me know.

  25. Mike, Nice to know your thoughts on defragmenting. In answer to your question on the drive noise, it seems the rotation of the disks sound is always happening. The disk accessing and fan noise happen when it’s working. I guess this or all NAS drives don’t power down when not in use like the USB external drives I’ve used previously, or the DSL modem keeps it awake. As a result, in our small home environment, I shut it off when I’m not using it.
    Thank you from north of SB

  26. Dennis: If it’s the drive noise that is too loud, I believe there is a way to spin down the disks when not in use. In the control panel under Maintenance,click on Disk Utility. Then at the bottom, there is a field for disk spin down time. Enter in the number of minutes it should stay alive before powering down the disks and click on Save. I tried this out on my device, and one of the disks would spin down, but the other one stayed spinning all the time. I’m guessing this has something to do with the OS being stored on one of the disks, so that drive is being accessed for logging/etc more often.

    Glad to have a reader from the central coast…

  27. I have a three macs and a windows laptop on a network. I purchased the new Airport Extreme which has three ethernet ports, a HP ethernet printer and a 1T Micronet GForce. I couldn’t see the Micronet on my network. Apple claimed they only supported USB external hard drives and Micronet said they didn’t support wireless networks. I was about to return the drive, but I found a tech friend that contected directly to the GForce with the IP Micronet provided and changed the IP of the GForce to match the IP and subnet of my Mac network. After that it showed up fine on my network. The drive seems a little loud, but works fine.

    The only problems I have had so far is some of my files that have long file names did not transfer to the GForce. In fact the transfer stopped whenever a file with a long file name started to transfer leaving me with the task of figuring out what transfered and what didn’t. Does anyone know a remedy for this?

  28. PS..
    I went to work tonight and my brand new G-Force was making a clicking noice and not showing up on my network. I tried to access the admin with a browser and only the original password worked and it was asking to format one of the drives. All of my work is gone. I will try to return it or get a replacement next week. I am not happy.

  29. Wayne: Sorry to hear about your disk failure…that’s some bum luck. Your problem with long filenames is a result of using Samba as the mounting scheme. The fix for it is to use NFS instead, though this brings along some unwanted side-effects, some of which are listed in above comments. Most notably, you won’t be able to modify or delete files created over NFS when the same share is mounted via Samba, and vice versa. Mounting the NAS over NFS is more difficult than just using Samba, but it’s not too bad. First, in the Share preferences on the NAS, you have to allow NFS access from either all IPs, or just the IPs of the hosts you want to allow access to–there are no username/passwords over NFS. Next, on your Mac create a folder where you want to mount the NAS. In my case, I just made a folder on my main hard drive: /nas. Then from your Mac, to mount use the following command:

    sudo mount_nfs -P [nas_ip_address]:[share_path_on_nas] [folder_on_your_mac]

    ie:
    sudo mount_nfs -P 192.168.1.2:/mnt/md1/backup /nas

    Since it is more of a hassle, I only use NFS mounts for my backups (using rsync currently). I then have a few Samba mounts for disk space that I use more frequently and want more easily available, like archival of larger files (mostly working from the Finder).

  30. Not directly related to your setup, but to the NFS tuning.

    In my setup the samba/NFS tuning were equal, untill I changed the mount options for the NFS to this:
    size=32768,wsize=32768,nfsvers=3,tcp,timeo=14,intr,noatime

    this TRIPLED the speed of the NFS, so reading times became 3x faster than via samba. writing doubled in that setup.

  31. Erik: Thanks for the tip. I didn’t get a 3x speed increase here, but it did indeed result in a performance improvement.

  32. I have a windows xp & a mac osx on my network. In Itunes the gforce mdn1000 was working fine, then it started giving me the following message when I click to it under shared: the shared library “gforce_music_box” is not responding (-3260) Check that any firewall software running on either the shared computer of this computer has been set to allow communication on port 3689.

    Both the mac & the windows xp machine give this message. We can look at each others personal libraries without an issue. We can play each others libraries, including the one that points to the gforce & I can rip to to gforce. Both machines are running the latest version of itunes. I also followed itunes support articl 93396 to open up port 3689 & port 5353 & that didn’t help. The reason I would like this feature to work again is so other computers on the network can play what is saved on the NAS without the machine that ripped the file to begin with being on.

    Any help is greatly appreciated or work arounds.

  33. Unfortunately I still haven’t actually used the shared iTunes library feature of this NAS yet. If anyone else has experience with this feature, maybe they can chime in…

  34. Thanks for posting this review and all the great technical answers, mike! I’m considering buying the G-Force NAS for media storage and sharing on my home network, and I have a basic question: if one of the drives fails, is it possible to remove it and swap in a new drive, or do you have to send it away for service? Thanks.

  35. I had this same question before purchasing, so I called the company and asked. The tech support person I talked to said that while it wasn’t “supported,” there wasn’t any reason it shouldn’t work. I got the impression that I could replace one of the drives, but by doing so I would throw my warranty out the window.

    It’s definitely a drawback from other NAS devices that allow you to swap out disk mechanisms just by undoing a latch, but for a cheap alternative with fixed disks this isn’t a bad way to go. I figured the worst-case is having a disk die and not being able to replace it with another. In this situation, I would just pull the working drive from the enclosure (it’s just a standard SATA drive from what I can tell) and buy a driveless enclosure to host it in.

  36. New firmware on the website!!!

    2tb RAID1 down to 20 minutes. Firefox issues totally resolved. New style stands also. See errata on website. Working on the drive replacement concept AND maybe a new unit with swapables soon!!!

  37. Daniel: Thanks for chiming in on the firmware update; it sounds like quite a few issues have been fixed. I’ll have to give it a shot.

    Also glad to hear a unit with removable drives is in the works…

  38. Very good review.

    I have two macs on my network (a G4 with the mirror door and a macbook pro(intel) both running 10.4.11). They are all networked with the new Airport Extreme with gigabit ethernet, the G4 and the Mega Disk are corrected via the ethernet port on the Airport Extreme. I can see the drive on my network as “GfroceNAS”, but I can’t access the web base interface to change and manage the users. I can only accress the drive using the “admin and the admin password”.
    I tried connecting the Mega Disk directly to the G4’s ethernet and us the http://IP address and http://GfroceNAS to access the web base interface. But no luck with both, do you have any suggestions?

  39. Mike: thanks for the great review. It prompted me to purchase the MicroNet NAS and overall I’m pretty happy with it.

    @peter

    I set the NAS recently on my wifi network which is a similar configuration. I found that the default IP information (to access the web-based configuration tool) contained in the .pdf documentation was incorrect. From memory, what was printed was something like 168.0.0.1 and what I found was that 168.0.1.1 brought up the web interface. Again, from memory.

    I found that the unit works well. My only real complaint is that when the fan is on – which seems to be pretty frequently, with my house set at 68 degrees in the middle of the ‘winter’ here in Virginia — it is quite loud.

    Of course, after today and the introduction of Apple’s new “Time Capsule” all of this maybe a bit moot!

  40. Thanks for the review.

    I am having a couple issues with my Gforcenas Megadisk. one is that when my partner saves files over ftp I find that when i attempt to pen them from my computer — connected through the Ethernet hub — they are read-only and I either can;t make changes or can’t even look at them (depending on which program the file is written in.) The only thing I can think of is that the drive recognizes me as a guest without privileges. but I have no idea how to change my identity.

  41. Peter,

    I ran into a similar problem. (I have one Apple and a few PCs) I called Apple and got kicked up two help levels and somebody showed me how to manually connect via the drive’s ip and then place a drive (or share) icon on my doc. Now if I can’t access the disk I just got to the icon… but I can’t remember how I got it there. Also, a day after the issue was resolved it started appearing in my share list on its own…

  42. Peter:
    Finding the NAS on your network for the first time is definitely one of the toughest processes of getting going with this device. The only suggestion I can make that hasn’t already been mentioned is to open a Terminal and type “arp -a” without the quotes. This will show every device on your network, and one of those IP addresses should be the NAS.

    Danny:
    I’ve noticed this issue between using the disk over NFS and Samba as well. It seems like Micronet still has some permissions issues to work out in the firmware. The only suggestion I can make is to make sure you are connecting from FTP and later on using the same username. I would not login via FTP anonymously, because that’s almost sure to write files to the disk using some anonymous FTP account that won’t be writable via any other method.

    I’ll be installing the updated firmware this week, so I’ll keep in touch if I notice any changes in this respect.

  43. Thanks eveyone.
    Technomad was right, there was a misprint on the supplied PDF (the correct default IP address is 192.168.1.1). After I downloaded the new manual and the new firmware, everything is working fine.

    I have a new question. Can this NAS be use as an UPnP/DLNA media server to connect to something like a PlayStation 3 to play music and video?

  44. Mike,

    Thanks so much for some suggestions. My problem is that the Gforce does not ask me to identify myself on samba — so it assumes I am a guest and will not allow me to edit or even open documents saved through ftp. So I can’t figure out how to re-identify and sign in as a user with privileges. It’s very frustrating.

    I have had many issues with being locked out and also setting up shares — but regarding music, the Bonjour works like a charm. Although my Mac usually has a hard time finding the NAS without me manually leading it, iTunes on both Mac and PC always finds it.

  45. Danny: You might want to try using the Finder’s Connect to Server dialog box. In the Go menu select “Connect to Server…”. In that dialog, you can type in a server address directly. For instance, if the IP address of your NAS is 192.168.1.2, then you could try mounting using the following string:

    smb://username@192.168.1.2/

    Replace “username” with the username you are using for the FTP session. It should then prompt you for a share to mount (or you could add the share name after the rest of that URL), and a username/password to use to login. If you want to save a form of bookmark to the server, in the Connect to Server dialog, you can click the + button to save the current server address string in the list view below.

    Hope this helps…

  46. Here is the link for the new firmware drivers and manual
    http://www.fantomdrives.com/support/manuals/manuals.htm

  47. How were you able to modify the mount parameters? I just got the 2TB Version and it has the same problem with NFS.

  48. Brad: You have to do this from the Terminal. Try “man mount_nfs”. You could also use a GUI utility like NFSManager.

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