LaCie 5big Network 2 review

4 Apr 2012

A superbly built NAS appliance that’s easy to manage, but it’s let down by very poor performance

Price when reviewed: 
692exc VAT, 5TB
3

LaCie is well known for producing beautifully designed NAS appliances and hard disks, and this latest model is no different. Along with its outstanding looks, the 5big Network 2 introduces LaCie’s latest NAS OS 2.2 firmware. The previous version introduced features such as enhanced RAID and power-saving modes, and this update adds NAS-to-NAS backup and the LaCie MyNAS cloud service.

The Network 2 is no bigger than any other five-bay NAS appliance, but it does use a large external power supply, which means it’s able to cope with 3TB SATA drives. LaCie offers fully populated 5TB, 10TB and 15TB models, but the device can’t be bought diskless.

Installation is simple, and the web interface and its collection of widgets make light work of further configuration. For testing, we opted to leave the five 1TB drives in the review sample in the default RAID5 array, but the appliance also supports mirrors, stripes and RAID6.

For remote access, there’s a choice between DynDNS or the LaCie MyNAS service. We chose the latter for testing, and found it a cinch to set up. Once setup is complete, users can access a simple file browser utility showing public and private folders. It’s useful for grabbing files on the road, or for uploading files for safety, but it isn’t as smart as Qnap’s MyCloudNAS service, which offers far more features.

LaCie 5big Network 2

IP SAN support is also basic. The appliance has a predefined target ready and waiting, but with a zero size. All you can do is increase its capacity using a slider, after which the target becomes available. CHAP authentication can be applied but, unlike Qnap and Synology appliances, the Network 2 supports only a single iSCSI target. Performance isn’t great either, with Iometer reporting a mere 62MB/sec raw read speed.

General network share performance is in line with LaCie’s claims, but is very slow when compared to the latest appliances from other vendors. Using a Dell PowerEdge R515 loaded with Windows Server 2008 R2, we saw drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip return read and write speeds of 61MB/sec and 32MB/sec.

Speeds over FTP using the FileZilla utility were slightly faster, but still uninspiring, and our large collection of small files weren’t handled at all well. Copying a 17.4GB test folder of 10,500 files to the appliance resulted in an average speed of 18.9MB/sec, so general backup tasks will take a long time.

For NAS-to-NAS backup, we tested LaCie’s rsync support, which worked fine with our Netgear ReadyNAS NVX acting as a destination. We were able to run manual or scheduled backups of local folders, and opt for encrypted full or incremental backups.

Backups can also be scheduled from local folders to external devices attached to the appliance. LaCie includes a three-user copy of Genie Backup Manager Pro 8, which can run scheduled mirrored, full, incremental or differential backups from workstations to the appliance, or other devices such as FTP servers and optical media.

This all may sound impressive, but in fact the Network 2 is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Look past its sleek design and superb build quality and you have an appliance that seriously lags behind the competition for features and performance.

Details

Price ex VAT 5TB, £577
Price inc VAT £692
Overall rating 3
Performance 2
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3

Basic specifications

Capacity 5.00TB
RAID capability yes
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Connections

Ethernet ports 2
USB connection? yes
eSATA interface yes