The LaCie 2big NAS comes in diskless and 6TB versions. Our review unit was the 6TB version with two Seagate 3TB disks pre-installed. NAS OS 2 was also already installed, and so, it was pure plug and play. The contents of the 2 x 3TB 2big NAS box are as below:

  1. LaCie 2big NAS chassis
  2. 2 x 3TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm [ ST3000DM001 ] drives inside the chassis
  3. Cat 5E Ethernet cable
  4. 48 W external power supply with multiple power cords (to support various types of power outlets across the world)
  5. CD with user manual and miscellaneous software (including license keys)
  6. Screws for hard disk installation / Plastic key to unlock drive bay / Allen key to mount or replace base

The LaCie 2big NAS retains the same industrial design of its predecessor, the 2big Network 2. Since we didn't review that unit, we will take this opportunity to provide praise for the 2big NAS's innovative design. The chassis is built of solid aluminium, and has a heat-sink type texture (raised fins) to it. This enables LaCie to utilize a very small and quiet fan inside the unit.

On a subjective basis, we have to say that the LaCie 2big NAS wins big on the noise factor compared to the other 2-bay NAS systems that we have evaluated. The unit is pleasing to the eyes, and can be positioned either on its side or upright (in which case, the supplied stand has to be attached). The front of the unit has the standard blue colored LaCie push button which remains blue during normal operation, but turns red when one of the drives goes kaput (i.e, the NAS enters a degraded mode). A thin opening from top to bottom in the middle of the front panel allows for air circulation.

On the rear side, we have four six square slots behind which the fan's exhaust pipe sits. The two drive bays are numbered and have LEDs on top. These LEDs stay solid blue when there is no disk activity, blink when there is disk access, and turn red if the drive is dead / missing. When rebuilding with a new drive, the LED blinks red and blue alternately. There is a physical ON/OFF switch between the drive bays. Beneath that, we have the RJ-45 port, a USB 2.0 port, an eSATA port and the power inlet. Overall, the 2big NAS has the best industrial design we have seen for a 2-bay NAS.

Moving on to the setup process, we find that the simplicity and elegance is carried over. On first boot, the NAS prompts the user to change the administrator password. It also allows for configuring the time zone settings and prompts the user to register (optional). The option to configure remote access (using LaCie's MyNAS DDNS service with an iPhone app / web browser) is also provided. After this, any available firmware updates are indicated.

All the basic NAS operations are easily accessible from the main page. These include general settings such as time and workgroup, users, groups, shares, network settings etc. For other operations which are not frequently used (such as Eco Management, RAID management, firmware update, download manager etc.), there are icons towards the bottom of the page on the right side.

The gallery above shows the various options available in the LaCie NAS OS 2. The OS also includes a torrent downloader, which is trivial to use.

Various types of shares can be set up on the LaCie 2big NAS. Support is provided for a single iSCSI target. Shared folders can be set up for access by various groups / users or in a public manner. The supported access protocols include SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, SFTP, TimeMachine and Multimedia. These services have to be enabled in the General Settings first. Activating the Multimedia service for a folder enables the Twonky Media Server service to serve content from that folder over DLNA to the appropriate Digital Media Renderers / Digital Media Players.

This simplistic approach is sure to be appreciated by the average SMB user (which, incidentally, happens to be LaCie's target market). However, it leaves a lot to be desired for advanced users. For example, there is no way to get SSH/root access to the machine. Options available in the DS-211+ such as the ability to encrypt folders at a share level and the ability to create multiple iSCSI targets are not available in LaCie's NAS OS 2. It is also not immediately obvious whether it is possible to check up on the S.M.A.R.T status or even the temperature of the hard disks. In terms of ease of use and suitability for basic tasks, the OS is good enough, but, for power users, it leaves a lot to be desired.

Introduction System Teardown and Analysis
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  • zzing123 - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Apparently a lot of these SOHO NAS's begin to have problems when they fill up, due to both using the inner tracks of the HDD platters, as well as the CPU overhead from software RAID. Rather than benchmarking absolute performance at new, can you begin to see what performance is like with an 85% full drive after a tortuous series of production IO? The reason being is a lot of people are increasingly using these NAS's for iSCSI and this doesn't help matters.

    See here for more info: http://www.servethehome.com/cost-nas-boxes-perform...

    Furthermore, while technologies such as bcache (http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&am... and BTRFS are nearing kernel inclusion, or even using an OpenIndiana based embedded OS to provide ZFS (like EON), I see very little from the NAS manufacturers that they are even considering these advanced filesystems and SSD tiering, except for Drobo who are wildly overpriced and underperformant.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the note. We will keep this in mind for future NAS reviews.

    In fact, I tried to do something similar to expose QNAP's kernel problem [ http://forum.qnap.com/viewtopic.php?f=189&t=51... ], but left that effort hanging once QNAP owned up to the problem. Maybe it is time to work more on that aspect :)
    Reply
  • guste - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Ganesh, thanks for the great review. I was wondering if it's possible, next time can you pick colours for the graph that aren't so similar? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    How's that? Reply
  • guste - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Cheers, Jarred. Thanks kindly. Reply
  • ggathagan - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    It would be interesting to see if your list of desired features are present on the LaCie "Professional" products that use NAS OS 2.

    It may be that the focus for their non-"professional" devices is ease of use, as opposed to full features.

    I think the review blurb LaCie uses on their web page for the 2big summarizes their target:
    “...5/5 – this really is a well made, cool looking NAS that can do pretty much everything you need it to do. My only real problem with it is that I have to give it back!”

    Like Apple, LaCie has always focused as much effort on the aesthetics of their products as they have the functionality. Also like Apple, I would expect that mindset to extend to how much of the inner workings of the OS are exposed to the user.

    Math nitpick from the unpacking page:
    "On the rear side, we have four square slots behind which the fan's exhaust pipe sits"

    I see six.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Some of my clients are those sorts of people (ie, Lacie customers). And man, it's crazy.

    They've all suffered a huge identity crisis in the last few years because Apple so clearly doesn't give a shit about its professional users anymore, abandoning FCP and eventually the desktop. Reflexively they want to keep buying Macs because hey, that's what 'creative' people do (never mind that they best pros I've met don't give a shit what type of computer they use). But logically they are running out of reasons to.

    I predict mass suicides.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    I don't know if it's too pricey to make sense for your audience, but you all may want to check out Open-E's DSS V6 NAS software platform.

    It uses a heavily modified version of FreeBSD (I believe) and runs on a really wide variety of hardware, and provides nearly all of the failover, security and management features of those atomic powered high end enterprise NAS appliances for a fraction of the price (ie, thousands instead of tens of thousands).

    I've installed a bunch of these things for clients ranging from SOHO (with heavy storage needs, like video) to SMB all the way up to legit mid-tier enterprise work. They take a bit more knowledge to install than, say, Drobo, but it's the kind of stuff that anyone who works with gray-box appliances routinely will be well versed in.

    Coming from things like Windows Storage Server, Drobo, etc the performance is pretty amazing, you really feel like you're getting the most out of the hardware. With basic hardware (a modern low power Xeon mobo, LSI SAS RAID controller populated with 7200 rpm enterprise SATA drives) I routinely see wire speed on transfers from NAS to client machines over gig-e. In the small handful of installations I've done with 10 Gbe present, shit gets crazy.

    Most importantly, I've never seen a client lose data thanks to trouble with the software and support from the company is incredible, to the point where they will write unique small patches for specific clients, regardless of size. Between the two, it feels solid like a rock, in a way that many NAS and SAN systems simply don't.
    Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    I can't help but see the turret. If they make the blue light red, slap an Aperture Science on the side, and they'll get the geeks to swarm over it. Reply
  • sleepeeg3 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Probably the last product before they are swallowed by Seagate. Reply

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