Highly Reliable Systems: Removable Disk Backup & Recovery

Monthly Archives: July 2015

NAS System Speeds vs DAS Backup Performance

July 10th, 2015 by

NAS System Speeds vs DAS Backup Performance

By Olin Coles for Highly Reliable Systems

High-Rely Netswap 300 series

NC350 Network Attached Storage Backup Appliance

While many people are choosing to backup data across the Internet to the cloud, others prefer retaining data within physical reach on a backup appliance. This makes good business sense, considering that when disaster strikes the speed of transfer from cloud storage could take days compared to hours for a backup appliance.  When it comes to most modern server computers, their backup data is either streamed in pieces over the Internet to the cloud, or transferred onto storage media that’s either directly connected or attached to the local network. In this article we’ll document the performance of local storage by doing real world backup benchmarking using a popular backup program.

For this performance testing, we’ll begin by looking at the backup process, and how it’s impacted (or limited) by NAS speeds or DAS performance.  We believe that an average Windows server in 2015 holds around 200GB of data (average server size goes up over time).  Many administrators maintain a daily incremental backup cycle, and refrain from doing “full” backup jobs because the job can take more than 12 hours.


StorageCraft ShadowProtect Backup Job in Progress to High-Rely NetSwap NC350

As can be seen in the screenshot above data going to any of our Gigabit Ethernet connected NetSwap backup systems using StorageCraft ShadowProtect occurs at around 100MB/s. At this data rate, a 200GB average server would only take about 33 minutes to a single backup disk.  Using single High-Rely disks have the advantage that physical media (and the  data) can then be removed from the NAS backup system and preserved at an offsite location to ensure ‘air gap’ security.  If your data set is much larger than 200GB (i.e. in data intensive industries dealing in video or photos) the time needed for backup to the cloud is even more impractical.  Cloud backup forces you to an incremental upload scheme (continuous incremental forever) with a synthetic roll up. With large data sets (multi-Terrabyte servers), Direct Attached Storage (DAS) or 10GigE  NAS speeds with removable drives may be required for periodic full backup.

A Network Attached Storage (NAS) system such as our NetSwap NC350 can provide multiple layers of protection including local, removable, and cloud storage.  In our higher end models the box provides yet another layer of protection, “Disaster Recovery”.  These machines are capable of becoming an emergency server (often called a BDR or Backup and Disaster Recovery box).

You can expect even faster backups if your backup appliance was configured with 10GigE and the destination disks were RAID-6 or RAID-10.  These more sophisticated arrays provide more efficient data protection (in the sense that they use fewer drives for a given array).  They may also increase speed by using multiple spindles.  These modes are supported on the new Netswap 400 and 800, but the disks are trayless and meant to stay in the array on site (not hot swapped), meaning the cloud is the most practical way to get data offsite on these models.

High-Rely also offers several DAS appliance models.  These connect to server computers via SuperSpeed USB 3.0 or eSATA ports, and transfer speeds to a single disk often reach over 185MB/s which translates to around 666 GB per hour.  Again, this result is reasonable when you realize that the fastest SATA connected hard drives benchmark just over 200MB/s.  So with the slight overhead of USB and real world backup software, the 185MB/s result is very good.  At this speed a 6TB backup job can be completed in as little as nine hours, which is well within the window of a nightly backup.

The numbers above and the summary below reflects in house testing using StorageCraft’s Shadowprotect.  For these tests we used 200GB of  duplicated Windows 10 ISO’s stored on dual SSDs using RAID-0 as the “source”.  This data was backed up to a single 4TB hard disk installed in a High-Rely Netswap or DAS backup appliance.    You can see that backing up to a NAS tops out around 100MB/sec, which is likely a limit of  Gigabit Ethernet rather than the NAS hardware or destination drive.  The theoretical maximum of Gigabit Ethernet is around 125MB/sec, so a real world result of 100MB/Sec is entirely believable.  As mentioned above, you could increase NAS performance using a 10Gigabit Ethernet card, in which case the bottleneck would probably become the speed of the single destination hard disk.

NAS 1GbE SMB (Windows Share) Protocol to a 4TB HDD in NetSwap NC350 Max write speed 102 MB/s or 367 GB/Hr
NAS 1GbE iSCSI (Block level) Protocol to a 4TB HDD in NetSwap NC350 Max write speed 95MB/s or 342 GB/Hr
DAS eSATA-II connection to a 4TB HDD in Tandem DC200 Max write speed 185MB/s or 666 GB/Hr
DAS USB 3.0 connection to a 4TB HDD in Tandem DC200 Max write speed 185MB/s or 666 GB/Hr

Compare the numbers above to a “pure cloud” backup service to see why local storage makes sense.  Assuming a fast cable Internet service with 10MB/s upload speeds capable of sending nearly 4GB to the cloud per hour, a 200GB data set could take 50 hours (2.1 days – see our upload calculator for more examples). This makes the cloud less suitable for large data backup jobs, based purely on time taken to stream the files and without regard for post-transfer security.

Posted in Blog, Spotlight

Comparing iSCSI and Windows Network Shares

July 8th, 2015 by

Comparing iSCSI and Windows Network Shares

You can’t tell by looking at the physical connection whether a machine is using iSCSI or a Windows share. Both iSCSI connections and shared Windows hard drives use an Ethernet connection to attach storage. Since they use the same physical connection and network cable, it can be confusing to understand the difference. It used to be that an appliance that “shared” it’s drive was called a NAS (Network Attached Storage), and one that used iSCSI was called a SAN (Storage Area Network). This was because iSCSI was setup by installing a second network card in the server, and a dedicated link or Ethernet network was used for just storage traffic (hence the term storage area network versus local area network). Nowadays it’s not uncommon for even low end NAS devices to support the iSCSI software protocol, so the line can be somewhat blurry.

For High-Rely’s current backup NAS system, we allow drives to be used over Ethernet via Windows shares utilizing Server Message Block (SMB) or Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocols, Network File System (NFS) protocol (often used in Linux or Unix), or iSCSI connections.  One thing to be aware of is that since we support removable disks, we typically use one of these protocols per drive. In other words, if you turn on iSCSI to access a removable disk the entire disk is accessed this way, and no SMB shares are allowed on the drive. This is to facilitate remove-ability and transportability.

Shared Drives

Most network administrators are familiar with Windows network “shares”.  When you use a network share, you’re dealing with whole files.  The NAS device is responsible for creating the file system that stores the files, and presents those files to the clients.  The NAS “server” is responsible for managing file permissions and security as well as contention should multiple clients try to access the share/file.

Our iSCSI software allows for “safe removal” of network attached drives.  Although not required, it insures all writes are complete

iSCSI Drives

Conversely, iSCSI is a block protocol.  What ends up happening in this case is the NAS device creates a virtual disk file, and presents this disk to the client.  The client is then responsible for creating the file system on the disk and modifying the contents.  The NAS device will have no concept of what data is on the iSCSI disk, and relies on the clients to manage their own connections to it. We used to say that iSCSI is faster than SMB shares, but recent testing indicates NAS mode (which use CIFS or SMB protocols) may be slightly faster for large file transfers typically used in backup.  Whether there is a speed difference between iSCSI and NAS depends on whether you’re copying lots of small files or a few big ones. So use whatever is most compatible and works best for your situation.  Use iSCSI if you need to make a networked location appear as a local disk to one system and/or application.  iSCSI is really intended for one host connecting to the iSCSI target at a time.  We don’t support multi-host mapping, as it’s usually used for fail over servers such as Windows clustering while we’re a backup device. Although you can’t have two machines play nicely with iSCSI to our hard drives concurrently, you can connect Server#1 to a High-Rely drive via iSCSI then simply “share” that drive from Server#1 to the rest of the network.  Although Server1 will have the fastest access to the drive, the other machines will then be able to backup to the drive as well.


  • Windows SMB/CIFS network shares may be slightly faster than iSCSI for large file transfers.  The opposite may be true for small file copies. Many variables such as source and target hardware may impact the performance, so your results may vary.
  • Only one machine may be connected to an iSCSI drive at a time, although each drive may be “re-shared” to the network.
  • Each High-Rely drive must be shared either iSCSI, NFS, or Windows share. No mixing protocols per drive due to removable support.
  • If using NTFS file format (Windows native), although you lose a small amount of performance iSCSI may be more compatible because Windows is natively using and controlling the drive.
  • When using EXT4 file format (Linux native), use NFS or Windows shares for best performance.
  • If you have any troubles, lock ups, or bugs, simply try the opposite sharing methodology.
Posted in Blog

150TB RAIDFrame Computer/Network Backup Appliance Available

July 1st, 2015 by

150TB RAIDFrame Computer Backup Appliance Available

10TB HGST Helium disks increase RAIDPac drives to 30TB each

4-Bay RAIDFrame Plus BDR NAS

RAIDFrame 4000 Backup NAS System

RAIDPac Drive Enclosure

30TB RAIDPac Drive

RENO, NV –  February 2017 – Highly Reliable Systems, the innovative American-made server backup storage experts, today announced production of their highly anticipated 150-Terabyte RAIDFrame 5000 server backup device and 120TB network-attached RAIDFrame 4000 NAS backup appliance. Utilizing the latest 10TB HGST Helium hard disk drive technology, High-Rely RAIDFrame backup appliances now deliver unprecedented storage capacities for computer backup and long-term retention.

This development enables High-Rely to offer up to five 10TB RAIDPac drives secured into their direct-attached RAIDFrame 5000 backup device, generating 150-Terabytes of storage in RAID-0 or 100TB in RAID-5 mode. On the network-attached four-bay RAIDFrame 4000 backup NAS system this amounts to as much as 120TB of available combined capacity for long-term backup retention and archive storage sets. These RAIDPac storage modules represent the largest removable drives on the market, each equipped with its own integrated RAID controller. RAIDFrame appliances are available with optional hot-swap power supply units and dual 10-Gigabit Ethernet adapters.

“High-Rely RAIDFrame server backup appliances incorporate our removable RAIDPac drives, which allows users to easily pull and rotate the backup storage for retention. The RAIDPac contains three SATA hard disks and an integrated RAID controller so that when you pull a RAIDPac module from the RAIDFrame you’re actually pulling an entire self-contained disk array” said Darren McBride, Chief Executive Officer at Highly Reliable Systems. “The RAIDPac unit can also be accessed in the field by plugging in a four-pin Molex power connection and either USB 3.0 or SATA cable at the back of the unit to become the world’s largest removable drive.”

RAIDFrame DAS and NAS server backup appliances are immediately available through partner resellers starting at $2999 MSRP (DAS: DR5001 / NAS: RR2000). High-Rely offers a wide range of network-attached and direct-attached backup storage solutions. Please visit https://www.high-rely.com/products/ for more information on our complete product line, including other RAIDFrame models.

About Highly Reliable Systems, Inc.

Highly Reliable Systems is a talented group of engineers, technicians, and backup storage experts based in Reno, Nevada, USA, that have provided computer backup solutions since 2003. High-Rely manufactures durable American-made backup devices utilizing removable drives and network-attached auto backup enclosures. Available through channel partners, RAIDFrame and NetSwap BDR backup solutions are cost effective, reliable, and can be used in most any environment.


Media Contact:

Olin Coles
Marketing Director
775-329-5139 *101

Posted in News