D-Link DNS-323 2-Bay Network Storage Enclosure

The D-Link DNS-323 is a great network storage device for beginners and professionals alike.


9.0
CNET Rating
7.6
User Rating

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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Network Attached Storage (NAS) has finally started dribbling into the consumer space, and we couldn't be happier. It seems as if a combination of all those years of nagging about backing up and the onset of streaming media has woken up the general public to the marvels of network accessible storage.

Design
This thing is, for a NAS device, surprisingly sexy. The front is black plastic with a silver strip hidden behind clear plastic, and the unit's only button is a power button proudly bearing the D-Link logo. Beneath this are lights for each of the two hard drives that can be loaded in, and an activity light that lets you know when the NAS is doing its own thinking. This front cover can be easily slipped off to load two Serial ATA hard drives which simply slot in with no fuss. You will have to provide the hard drives yourself, as these are not included with the unit.

The top and bottom are ruggedised matte black plastic, with rubber strips on the bottom for feet. On the back there are hard drive release levers, a small fan, a gigabit Ethernet connection, power connection and a USB port which allows the NAS to function as a print server.

Features
At its heart, the D-Link DNS-323 is an embedded Linux device. This is given away by the fact that the thing comes with a warning that NTFS and FAT32 aren't supported, a printed copy of the General Public Licence -- GPL is championed by free software and Linux adherents -- and that the drives are formatted in EXT2. For those who are scratching their heads at this, don't worry, all it means is that the device is almost as easy to use as simply plugging it in.

After mounting the drives in the front and plugging everything up, the unit auto-formats the drives -- so don't put in a hard drive with sensitive data on it. Using a quick access tool found on D-Link's supplied CD, it's easy to configure everything from network settings to drive mapping.

Clicking on the Configure button loads the device's web interface, which is well laid out and easy to navigate. It's certainly a departure from the drab interfaces we're used to seeing and it's well designed as well.

Here it can get a little complex for first time users, as the DNS-323 is both powerful and flexible. The array of options is actually quite impressive -- right down to user and group account control, and permissions, including quotas.

It comes server laden, running its own FTP server, UPnP AV server, iTunes server and DHCP server, making sure that all the data kept on the device is accessible to the outside world. The outside world is accessible to the device as well, as you can schedule downloads directly to the device over FTP, HTTP and local network shares, allowing you to schedule backups in a simple fashion. We would have liked to have seen a BitTorrent client here as well, although we don't know if the device is powerful enough to handle it.

If you're not comfortable with the technical side of backing up, Memeo's Autobackup software is included with the device. Sadly the .NET 1.1 framework component of the install was buggy and flipped out claiming it couldn't find a disk. It then cancelled the installation. After downloading the required components and installing them separately, the software proceeded to install fine which, although not amazingly powerful, can store multiple revisions of a file if need be. It does the job, but power users may find something like the free Cobian Backup more to their liking.

When things go strange, the device is able to send a nominated account an email -- whether the drives are full, passwords have been changed, the temperature is getting out of control or if a hard drive has failed. It's handy on the power saving as well, allowing spin down of the drives after a defined period of disuse.

Four modes of storage are allowed for the drives -- individual drives, Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD, which can mash two mismatching drive capacities together to form one logical volume), RAID 0 (striped, meaning two drives of identical size are interpreted as one drive, giving speed benefits) or RAID 1 (mirrored, meaning whatever is copied to one drive is copied to the other). Realistically we expect most people to put the DNS-323 into RAID 1, as this offers the most safety when it comes to backups, and being a network device the speed benefits of RAID 0 are questionable as they'll be limited not just by the network connection of the device but of those devices connecting to it, as well as network congestion.

Performance
Using an Acer Travelmate 5720 equipped with Windows Vista, we hooked both the notebook and the DNS-323 up to a Netgear Rangemax Next Wireless Router and transferred a 1GB file across the network. Regardless of what storage mode we chose, it ended up taking around a minute -- but of course depending on your equipment, this figure will change dramatically.

The D-Link DNS-323 is an excellent device, one we wouldn't mind keeping in our own home. Now all we need is for D-Link to make a four disk version and open up RAID 5.



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SheilaH Facebook
4
Rating
 

"Slow as sh*t"

SheilaH posted a review   

The Good:tiny, easy setup

The Bad:slow as sh*t, not worth the money

OBVIOUSLY the reviewer didn't spend much time with this OR use other computers to test other than crappy windows Vista.

Anyone running on this will tell you how disappointed they are in the money spent on this piece of junk. It's hardly gigabit let alone megabit.. accessing files on the server take forever and half the time you have to save your file 2 or 3 times to be sure it ACTUALLY saved to the network.

Save your money and buy something else.. you will be utterly disappointed with this unit

 

Nick posted a comment   

The Good:Very flexible, reliable, extensible, and cost effective NAS

The Bad:DNLA support missing, included UPnP server and BT Client is poop.

If you own a DNS 323, 1) upgrade your firmware, 2) install fun plug.
This device has been on the market for some years and the current FW is quite mature. The fun plug installer allows you to upgrade any of the weak points on this box to make it even better (Transmission BT Client, UPnP server...)
This has been a very reliable, and very flexible little box. Performance over a Gb network has been adequate for a consumer grade device. (~17MB/s)
Setup was straightforward, and I had the device configured and running on the network in under 15 minutes. There are a whole pile of options I do not use, as they are not relevant to using this as a NAS, which may change your experience of using this device.

Wo
10
Rating
 

Wo posted a review   

The Good:s

The Bad:s

s

Doc_D
2
Rating
 

Doc_D posted a review   

The Good:Good Solid Hardware, very nice alluminium extruded case.

The Bad:Locks up, poor interface, does not use NTFS or FAT32 file system, user security model is very strange

The CNET sample must have been damaged as the front panel is fine.

The operating system and general reliability is the real issue. The designers have some nice looking Hardware but the user interface is quite strange (eg some settings changes do not need a 'Save' while others do and those that do require the administrator to scroll back up to the top of the page (after working through a logical downward process of settings) to click 'SAVE'.

Once the public access to all feature has been deleted it cannot be replaced.

Mine is starting to lock up to the point that even holding down the power button will not shut down the device!

First and last D-Link device I'll ever buy.

 

47 posted a reply   

If it was NTFS. doesn't that mean only windows os can only read the files and if it FAT32 i sent there a restriction on file tranfer think its something like 4gb.

toolie
3
Rating
 

toolie posted a review   

The Good:Ok as a NAS overall, but not as a UPnP media server.

The Bad:Issue with .avi files over media server on NAS.

Response from DLink support
"I have actually verified your issue and have reported this to our product manager. He is in discussion with R&D to obtain a new firmware for the DNS-323 as soon as possible.

Firmware for such units however may take quite some time and therefore I do not have an ETA as yet."

Has taken 3 months of frustrating support calls to get to this point. Suggest you look elsewhere for a NAS if intention is to use as a media player.

Buyer beware

 

samsonite801 posted a reply   

Install fun_plug on it and follow this guide:

http://wiki.dns323.info/howto:twonkyupnpserver

and that should be a better UPnP server than the one delink ships with.

piesia
9
Rating
 

piesia posted a review   

The Good:itunes music server as well as uPNP server, ftp

The Bad:adding drive or updating firmware can cause your data to be ERASED! BACK IT UP FIRST! There is NO RSS fee for music so I can't play music to my psp :-( Setting up user/group rules is a pain and doesn't work reliably. I expected it to work better with my dlink dsm 320 media server, but this could be the fault of the client on the dsm320. I hope to replace the dsm 320 eventually with apple tv

a later firmware must have removed the itunes restriction as I have more than 14 gb of music served via itunes and uPNP (have firmware 1.5). Very nice and I'm glad I bought it.

darkfrost2008
10
Rating
 

darkfrost2008 posted a review   

Great device, bought a 2nd one for my sister and thinking of a third one to expand my storage furthur

ramjet
9
Rating
 

ramjet posted a review   

The Good:Easy to use. Most things seem to work as they are supposed to and it seems to be reliable. Back-up program is brilliant - once it has indexed everything, which takes forever. It constantly backs up selected files/folders, rather than doing periodic backups, but is not at all intrusive.

The Bad:iTunes server is useless because library is limited to 2GB

Overall very happy with the product.


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User Reviews / Comments  D-Link DNS-323 2-Bay Network Storage Enclosure

  • SheilaH

    SheilaH

    Rating4

    "OBVIOUSLY the reviewer didn't spend much time with this OR use other computers to test other than crappy windows Vista.

    Anyone running on this will tell you how disappointed they are i..."

  • Nick

    Nick

    "If you own a DNS 323, 1) upgrade your firmware, 2) install fun plug.
    This device has been on the market for some years and the current FW is quite mature. The fun plug installer allows you t..."

  • Wo

    Wo

    Rating10

    "s"

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