Over the years I have accumulated large amounts of electronic data including video, photos, music and documents of all types and I decided that I finally needed a solution to store and protect this stuff.   In the past I would buy external hard drives and back up my files but after purchasing a half dozen external drives, the clutter was getting horrendous (USB cables, power cables, etc) least of all the management of all this data from drive to drive.

I finally broke down and bought a Thecus N7700+ seven bay storage array box.    The box cost me almost $1000 and that didn’t include any drives!   I went out and bought seven 2TB Seagate XT drives which were $200 each.   The total investment in my box is now $2,400 but I have to confess that I love the box!

I have configured the device with a RAID 6 configuration.  This essentially means that TWO drives would need to fail before I lose any data of the array.   I will also have about 8 TB of storage available to me for almost anything I need (note:  one of the drives is an online spare not used in the array).  As an added bonus, the box has USB ports for me to attach a couple of the extra 1TB external drives I have lying around!

With my son, wife, myself and soon daughter equipped with laptops, there was also a tremendous amount of data that needed to be backed up for everybody: photos, music, video clips, etc.

There isn’t much to setting up the storage array.  You essentially pop the drives in the cages and slide them in but I do have a major warning for anyone buying Seagate XT Barracuda drives.   The screws that come with the drive are not completely flush so it is impossible to mount the drive in the rails and have it slide into the slots.   At the moment, I used two pennies inserted inside between the drive and rails so they slide into the box.   I am currently looking for drives that are completely flush to fix this problem.    I’m not sure if Seagate or Thecus is to blame for this mess but it’s something everyone should be aware of before buying!

All of the configuration is done through a fairly simple and intuitive interface however you will likely need some technical help if you’re not tech savvy.  Because I have a mix of Macs and Windows at home, I’ve had to do some extra configuration.  For example for macs to see the storage array you will need to configure AFP (apple filing protocol).  For Windows you may choose to setup iSCSI or ADS (active directory services) to work your backups.  If you have linux machines, you can setup SAMBA.   Personally, I like to run native protocols whenever possible so AFP for Mac is enabled.

Although I haven’t configured it yet, the device is capable of offering a “webDisk” to store files on your array while you’re away through a web browser.  Additionally, you can create online photo albums to share with friends and family.   At some point, I will add my laser printer to the box too as it acts as a print server but I’m still playing around with some other stuff for now.

Was is worth the cost?   For me it absolutely is as I will now have some piece of mind that my decade of data (photos, music, video, etc) will be stored safely with a high level of protection.   It has taken me 10 years to accumulate what I have and with an online array, I will have instant access to all these videos.  Eventually I hope Thecus finds a way to stream some of my video online to share with my family across the globe!