External hard drives come in many shapes and sizes, some are plain and some designer styles meant to not only add usefulness but to look good as well. Neil Poulton is a designer who specializes in tech related products design, making things look a little less cold and technical. He works quite a bit with LaCie in designing their hard drive solutions.
Network Attached Storage, or NAS Boxes are great little products that can add a lot of storage and usability to your home or workplace network. One of the great features about them is their ability to be accessed from the internet wherever you are so you have access to your files from anywhere in the world essentially. Many of these NAS boxes can even be configured as media severs, email servers and even websites so they can be much more than just storage.
Today for review I’ve got the LaCie 2big 1TB NAS Box from Geeks.com, it’s of Neil Poulton design so it looks nice, but looks aren’t everything, it has to perform as well. The LaCie 2big is a fanless NAS box that features the ability to use two SATA hard drives, the one I have today has two 500gig HDDs for a total of 1TB of storage obviously. These hard drives can be configured in BIG or Raid 0 and Safe/Raid 1 mode. The LacCie 2big features a web based interface for access and configuration on your network. So let’s check it out…
The LaCie 2big I received for review is a refurbished unit so it doesn’t comes in a nice pretty box, just a plain brown box, though it is packaged very well. The hard drives come pre-installed in the unit as well.
Included with the 2big is a USB cable, ethernet cable, power adapter, quick start guide, software CD, hex wrench and a plastic key.
The LacCie 2big resembles a large heatsink actually, and it’s supposed to as that essentially how it’s designed, it does not have a fan so it is cooled naturally. Overall it’s large and heavy, but it’s seems well made. On the front is a large blue button that has a couple uses and lights up blue when powered on.
The bottom has a little stand attached that has rubber non-slip pads on it.
On the back is where you’ll find the main power switch, hard drive access, USB ports, ethernet port and raid configuration switch. The hard drives are locked in place with just a twist lock that can be opened or closed with the included plastic key or a coin or screwdriver.
The hard drives came pre-installed on the racks, they just slide in and slide out easily. You can see just how large the LaCie 2big is when compared to the 3.5" hard drives in the following pictures.
Your Price: $169.99
Take control of your home or office network. With the LaCie 2big Network 301257UR hard drive, it’s easy!
You can access files from your network via FTP or web browser, and transfer external data in one quick click. Simply insert your USB key or hard drive into one of two USB ports, hit the blue LED button, and – presto! – your data is transferred automatically.
Ideal for both sharing and backing up data, this external hard drive features dual 500 GB drives, totaling a whopping one terabyte of storage. It also features two different RAID modes: If you’re concerned about security, go with SAFE mode (RAID 1), and if you’d rather have maximum storage capacity, go with BIG mode.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Windows, Mac or Linux user, the LaCie 2big Network 301257UR hard drive will keep you connected.
-Silver casing with blue LED data share button
-Dual 500 GB hard drives (1 TB storage capacity)
-1 x Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbits interface
-2-disk RAID (BIG mode and SAFE/RAID 1 mode)
-7200 RPM rotational speed
-16 MB cache
-Auto IP configuration
-Heat sink metal design for natural cooling
-Design by Neil Poulton
Rear Panel Features:
-RAID selection switch
-Drive status LEDs
-Off/Auto/On power switch
-2 USB expansion ports
-Drive tray handles with drive locks
-Power input connection
Supported Network Protocols:
-7.8 x 3.5 x 6.7-inches (H x W x D, approximate)
-Weight: 5.8 lbs
Installation is fairly easy, you just have to plug it into your network and install a small program to initialize the 2big on your network to allow access to it. The version that came on the disk was old, so I went over to the LaCie website and got the newer version that was available.
When it’s powered on the blue button on the front lights up a bright blue, and it also blinks red and blue as well when first starting up.
While I was at the LaCie website I also discovered that a new version of the firmware was available as well so I applied that to the 2big to bring it up to date. It required a patch and a firmware update, and a couple restarts of the 2big.
The interface is web based, you can use the LaCie Ethernet Agent to access it or you can just type the IP address into your web browser. The first thing you’ll be greeted with is the login window.
After logging into the admin account you’re greeted with the main screen where you’ll find the status of the 2big, model, time, IP, services, Raid type and capacity being shown. The interface is basic and easy to use on the admin side, and it’s even more basic from the user side.
On the left side of the browser is a navigation menu. The first choice is ‘Users’ here you can add users and change access privileges.
The next menu choice is groups, here you can add or change any groups that you want to work with.
The next menu is for creating Shares, or things that can be shared on your network by everyone basically.
The next menu choice is ‘System’, here you’ll find all of the real administration stuffs. In here you’ll find sub-menus for Network, Disk, Status and Maintenance.
The last menu choice is browse, you can see the contents of the 2big.
Logging in as a guest, or a user, you get basically the same interface, it’s a very, very basic interface overall, a bit too basic in my opinion. Though for new users, being simple is a good thing as it can be navigated and utilized easily.
One nice features about the LaCie 2big is the ability to instantly backup a USB device such as a USB thumbdrive, you just plug it in and push the blue button on the front, it then transfers the contents to the 2big for you. Another great feature is the ability to add more storage to the device via the USB ports, you could connect up two more USB hard drives to the LaCie 2big and they will become part of your network. One thing I don’t quite understand is if you have the option for quick backup like this, why would you put the USB ports on the back? Why not put them on the front for easier access, or put at least one on the front instead of having to reach around to the back all of the time?
So it’s easy to use and it’s got some nice features, but how does it perform? I used my FTP program to transfer the 3gb ISO of Windows 7 to the LaCie 2big and I compared it to my current NAS box which is a Qnap TS-109 Pro II with a 500gig HDD in it. It should be noted that the Qnap box is a bit more powerful than the LaCie 2big, it features a 500Mhz CPU and 256MB of DDR2 onboard.
As you can see the Qnap box is faster than the LaCie 2big, almost six minutes to transfer the file and a little over five minutes for the Qnap. If we look at the transfer rates we see the LaCie lagged behind a bit. I have them both hooked up to my Netgear gigabit switch so I’m not sure where the problem is there.
The LaCie 2big NAS box is a nice simple solution for your network storage needs. It doesn’t have as many features as other NAS boxes but it works well. It’s fanless design makes it quiet, and the ability to add storage via USB or instantly backup USB devices at the push of a button is a nice touch.
+Easy to use
-Big and heavy
-Simple interface not many options compared to others
-Not quite as fast as it should be