Icy Box NAS 4220 Enclosure
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 03-23-2008
Provided by: Tagan

For setup, the manual states to simply connect the NAS 4220 to the network, plug it in and turn it on. If your network already has a DHCP server, the NAS 4220 is supposed to obtain an IP address automatically and be immediately available to connect to. If you don't have a DHCP server, you can still connect to the device by using the Find Device program included on the Setup CD.

Unfortunately I was not able to connect to the box using either method. Upon turning it on I got a power indicator and a flashing OS light, and that was it. I tried a reboot as well as a reset, neither of which resolved the problem. Because these drives had been used previously, what I had to do was format them with the FAT32 file system, using the fat32format.exe freeware utility. Once this was done and the drives reinstalled, the unit would boot properly and I could access it from the network. After logging on, the first screen we are presented with is a prompt to set up our newly discovered disk.

The decision you make at this point is very important, because there are some limitations you must be aware of. For starters, if you are going to be using RAID or Spanning, your only choice is either the Linux ext2 or ext3 file system. Where this can come back to bite you, is if the NAS 4220 would happen to die at some point, and you don't have a Linux machine or boot environment available, then you won't be able to retrieve your data from the drives. In this example you also could not access the device from a Windows machine through the USB connection; you are limited to network access only. If you want to be able to access these drives through USB or outside of the NAS 4220 you are stuck using the FAT32 file system (which has limitations of its own) and the only drive configuration possible is JBOD. Even then, the Icy Box version of JBOD really isn't JBOD (in the Spanning sense) but more like two separate drive volumes.

Another major constraint that we would come to find out later in testing, is that RAID0 is really of no use in the NAS 4220. Although the device supports it, it is not recommended in the manual, and the network performance of the box is the bottleneck anyway. With the inherit risk involved in striping and no real performance benefit, you would do just as well to choose Spanning. You will still get the combined capacity of both drives and in case one goes bad you can still retrieve data from the other. And because Spanning still requires either ext2 or ext3, a Windows user might be better off using JBOD.

But if you want to use the NAS 4220 to store lots of important data, then RAID1 is the obvious way to go. Each drive will keep a mirror copy of all the data and in the event one dies, you will still have access to all of your information on the other. Once your drives are configured, you will probably want to setup how the NAS 4220 will be used. It can function as a DHCP server if you do not already have one on your network. It also offers "special" types of sharing such as music files through iTunes, multimedia files through Twonky (license purchase required) or internet file sharing via BitTorrent.

For basic file and printer sharing, you can elect to leave it completely open, where everyone has access to everything, or you can create users and groups. You will likely also want to set these up if you plan to use the NAS 4220 as an FTP server. In this way you can limit not only which information a particular person or group can access, but also control how much data they are permitted to store.

The system settings display administrative information about the NAS 4220 such as current firmware revision, time and network settings and logon password. It can also display a breakdown of all the data storage and which users/groups are responsible for different amounts. If you ever need to figure out who is hogging up all your disk space, this tool can help you determine that.

Now let's see how the NAS 4220 performs.

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