I’m a systems and network administrator with Performance Advantage, and I’ve been testing the DL4100 high performance NAS system from WD. Is this the right NAS for ITWC’s team of video and creative professionals? Let’s find out.

At ITWC, the video team uses an older model Drobo NAS to back up the videos it creates for their journalists and clients. It gets the job done, but there’s so much more a modern, cloud-enabled NAS can do. So we were excited to get our hands on the DL4100. Our review model was the four-bay model designed for small businesses, and came with four 6TB WD drives for 24TB of total storage, 16.8 usable after redundancy. There were five things I set out to test with the DL4100 to see if it would be a better fit for us.

My Cloud DL4100 SmallOffice image

  1. Most businesses of our size use Active Directory, so integration with Active Directory is a very helpful feature. The setup could not have been simpler. I flipped a switch, logged in as an administrator, and all my users were there. However, it imported every user, when I only really need to give a handful of users access. I can’t remove users, and there’s no way to find an individual without scrolling through the list. A little more granularity here would be nice.
  2. We’ve all had a drive fail. No hardware is perfect. The question is, how does the NAS handle a failure and what is the impact on our users. We’ve come up with a test to see what happens when we put in a damaged drive. Watch the video to see what happens.
  3. Being cloud enabled means you don’t need to be physically with the machine to interact with it, which is handy as our video team is often working at events away from the office. WD has even developed a mobile app for Android and iOS. I can back up and synch content from my phone, which is of some use. However, WD also marketed the ability to share files via download link, similar to Dropbox. I could share by downloading the file to my device, but I couldn’t enable the download link share feature. It would be nice to have – if it was easy to use.
  4. One interesting feature of the DL4100 is the ability to plug in a USB thumb drive and have the NAS back it up to a specified folder. Good in theory, limited in implementation. It only supports one pre-set function for any USB drive, so whatever stick you plug in it ends up copying to the same folder. And it didn’t always work for me; one in three attempts were unsuccessful. Basically, it’s a handy “ditch it for later” tool to dump the files so I can sort them out later.
  5. I tested the DL4100’s ability to be configured for Windows Workstation and Mac Time Machine Backups, and I had no issues. Basically, it performed as you would expect a NAS to perform. I couldn’t test site to site backups as we didn’t have a second WD NAS to test.

Buying advice

The DL4100 is comparable in price and feature set to the latest equivalent model of the Drobo that ITWC is currently using, so my inclination would be to stick with what we’re familiar with. However, as a hard drive manufacturer as well, WD has one huge potential advantage over Drobo. Should something happen to the data on my WD NAS, WD has the potential to offer recovery services. One vendor taking responsibility for the NAS and drive would be a real differentiator in today’s market.

I’m Richard Boelens; thanks for watching All Hands on Tech.

 

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