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Thread: Thecus N5200 Pro NAS Device

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    TweakTown Forum

    Default Thecus N5200 Pro NAS Device

    Please feel free to comment about our story entitled "Thecus N5200 Pro NAS Device"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Thecus N5200 Pro NAS Device

    I am an IT professional and have worked with (i.e. purchased, configured, maintained) literally dozens of different RAID and fault-tolerant storage systems for almost 15 years.
    At home I have about 200 GB of photos and video clips of my young kids that I consider “priceless” and was looking for a good, reasonably priced, fault-tolerant NAS solution for home use to safeguard my photos & videos.
    The N5200 looked like it was just the solution. Multiple RAID levels, JBOD, hot-swappable drive bays, etc. I was especially attracted by the drive “power management” feature, which claimed to spin-down drives when not in use, thereby saving power and extending drive lifetime.


    Within days after configuring a RAID6 array with 5x500GB Western Digital drives, I was alerted by the N5200’s audible alarm. It seemed that one of the (brand new) drives had “failed”. I was surprised but not concerned, since a RAID6 array can lose up to two drives without losing data. I thought that perhaps the “failed” drive had not been properly seated into its drive bay, so I removed it and re-inserted it. This was the first time the N5200 showed me its unreliable nature. I have no idea how or why, but the mere act of removing and re-inserting that one drive caused the entire array to fail. I lost all the data on the array. Fortunately, I still had copies of my data on other systems.

    After recovering from my shock, I re-initialized the array with all 5 of the original drives – it turned out the drive wasn’t bad after all. After this, the N5200 appeared to be stable for awhile, but I discovered that the drive power-management feature didn’t work. The drives never did spin down, even with days and weeks of inactivity. When I contacted Thecus support about this, they told me that there was a bug in the firmware, and that I should download and install the latest. I did, and power-management never worked.


    A few months later, I was again alerted by the audible alarm. It seems that one of my drives had “failed” again. This time I pulled the drive, and replaced it with a new one (it was still under warranty by WD). When I put the new drive in and “added” it to the degraded array, suddenly another drive “failed”. This was too much of a coincidence. I then replaced that drive as well. When I added it back to the array, the N5200 began a period of “spontaneous rebuilding” for a couple of weeks. It would add the drives back in, and then the array would suddenly start rebuilding itself again for no reason. Drives would “fail”, fall out of the array, and I would be unable to get them added again (even after testing the drives on other systems), unless I re-initialized the whole array (i.e. wiped the data).


    I tried to work with Thecus support for many weeks. It seemed like they didn’t believe me when I described what was happening. I then tried to get Thecus to replace the unit, which they would not do.

    So now I am using those very same 500GB disk drives in separate external drive enclosures (no RAID), which I have plugged into a couple different computers in my house, and I just have scheduled batch jobs that RoboCopy my photos around to several different drives every day. It’s not a sexy solution, but at least I have fault tolerance that I can trust!


    While it has all kinds of nifty features, the N5200 is not a safe place to put your data. The bottom line is that I could not trust my precious photo library to this device. I could have happily done without most of its features, if only it were reliable and fault tolerant. Unfortunately, in this department the N5200 failed miserably.


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