Testing – NAS (Network Attached Storage)

All media appear to be going digital these days, including your photos, music, home movies, and even television. But where do you store your ever expanding media collection so that the rest of your family can access it seamlessly across your home network? Or how do you make files accessible to your networked coworkers in a small office without investing in an expensive file server? Enter the relatively new product category of network-attached storage (NAS).

While storage capacity, functionality, and ease of use are all important variables to consider, performance should not be overlooked. Not all NAS devices are created equal, and you’ll really feel the difference when you’re waiting for those huge files to open. In order to deliver relevant performance evaluations of NAS devices, companies Labs puts them through their paces with the real-world tasks of reading and writing files.

Test environment:Network-attached storage devices are tested using a Netgear GS605 five-port Gigabit Ethernet switch on a closed network. File transfer testing takes place over the network between the NAS device and a desktop system with a 3.4GHz Pentium 4 550 processor, 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM running at 533MHz, an Nvidia GeForce 6600 PCI-Express graphics card with 256MB of memory, an integrated Yukon 88E8053 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller, a 74GB Western Digital WD740 Raptor hard drive, and Windows XP Professional SP2.

This NAS device is installed according to the manufacturer’s documentation, including installing any necessary client software and updating the device’s firmware if available. As most NAS devices come preformatted, we test the drive with its existing partition types and sizes as is. Tested devices have only test files placed on them; the operating system and all application files reside on the test bed’s permanent hard drive.

Transfer-speed tests: The read and write transfer-speed tests are done using a folder containing approximately 5GB of data; which contains DOC, XLS, JPEG, GIF, HTML, TXT, MP3, AVI, and application installation files, ranging in size from 1KB to 700MB.

Some companies use a custom utility to simulate the drag-and-drop mode of file copying in Windows Explorer. The custom utility automatically times the file transfer tests, reporting how long it takes to complete the transfer in minutes and seconds as well as megabytes per second.

Before testing begins, the test bed’s hard drive is defragmented using Windows’ built-in defragmentation tool. The write test is conducted by timing how long it takes to copy the 5GB folder from the test bed’s hard drive to the NAS device. The read test is conducted by timing how long it takes to copy the 5GB folder from the NAS device to the test bed’s hard drive. All files copied to the NAS device stay on the device and are not deleted between test runs. This allows the device to increasingly fill up with data as testing continues. The test bed’s drive, on the other hand, has all files copied to it deleted between test runs in order to minimize the impact the test bed’s drive will have on the performance of the NAS device.

All tests are repeated a minimum of three times. Each reported score represents an average of three scores that are within 5 percent of each other; iterations that vary by more than 5 percent are thrown out. All scores are reported in minutes and seconds, so lower scores indicate faster performance.

Rahnuma is a technical content writer at software testing stuff. A software engineer by degree and a dynamic content creator by passion, she brings to table over 3 years of writing experience in tech niche. Combining her enthusiasm for writing and technology, she loves to share her thoughts on the latest tech trends.

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