Promise SmartStor NS6700 review
A big improvement over previous SmartStor appliances: vastly superior for speed, features and backup tools
Review Date: 1 May 2011
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £708 (£850 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Our chief complaint in previous reviews of Promise’s NAS appliances has always been poor performance, which the new SmartStor NS6700 aims to remedy. It’s a six-bay device (or four if you opt for the NS4700) sporting a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of memory.
On paper that's a big improvement over the underpowered NS4600. The chassis has also made the move to a superior all-metal design, while the cheap, flimsy carriers in the NS4600 get the elbow in favour of more solid metal-framed carriers with locking tabs.
But it’s the performance boost we’re most interested in, so we loaded a quartet of 1TB Western Digital SATA drives, leaving the appliance to group them into an array and create a single RAID5 logical drive. It was a smooth enough process, but you need to plan ahead: our logical drive was preconfigured for NAS use only with no space for iSCSI targets. If you want to present both NAS shares and IP SANs, you must manually create logical drives, choose a RAID array and a size, then select either NAS or IP SAN operations.
With this muddle sorted, the NS6700 promptly delivered performance far in excess of its SmartStor predecessors. Copies of a 2.52GB video clip to and from a dual-Xeon X5560 Broadberry rack server running Windows Server 2008 R2 saw read and write speeds of 86MB/sec and 78MB/sec.
FTP speeds were slightly faster, with FileZilla reporting speeds of 89MB/sec and 81MB/sec, and our 17.4GB collection of 10,500 small files was copied to the appliance at 58MB/sec. Overall, the NS6700 is around three times faster for NAS operations than the NS4600.
For IP SANs, the NS6700 presents only one portal, so all targets will be shown to any logged-in initiator. Iometer reported a top raw read rate for one target of 111MB/sec.
We have no concerns about speeds, then, and backup features have also been improved. You can secure data on the appliance to external USB attached devices, and create snapshot schedules for point-in-time volume backups. The appliance can be replicated over Rsync to another Promise box, and you can use Amazon’s S3 hosted service for off-site backup.
Also included is Acronis’ Backup and Recovery NAS Edition software. This supports Windows Server 2000 and XP upwards, and is preset to only use Promise NAS appliances as its vault. Then there’s the SmartSync utility, which runs scheduled backups of selected workstation folders to the appliance. Once programmed, the One-Touch button on the front panel can start all SmartSync backup jobs on all workstations.
At a shade over £700 for a diskless version, the Promise SmartStor NS6700 is comparatively good value for a six-bay NAS appliance, especially with such a good backup package. It may not be as fast as Synology’s A-Listed DS1511+, but there’s no doubt the move to an Atom processor has paid dividends.
Author: Dave Mitchell
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