Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 NAS Device

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Setup: Volumes, Encryption, and More



Some users might want to set up multiple volumes on the 440--for instance, one volume for personal use and one for business use. The 440 supports up to a total of four logical volumes, which can simultaneously utilize nearly any combination of the four physical drives and RAID levels (RAID 0 and 1 use at least two drives, RAID 5 uses at least three drives, and RAID 10 uses all four drives). For example, you could utilize all four drives, assign half of the device's available storage, and set it up as an encrypted RAID 5 array; you could then assign the second half of the available storage (again using all four drives) as a RAID 0 array. RAID 0 doesn't offer any data redundancy, but it theoretically accesses data faster than the other modes.

  
 Available RAID modes for a volume.
Volume-level encryption can only be enabled
when initially creating the volume.


We experimented with multiple volumes on the 440 by setting up two RAID 5 arrays that both utilized all four disks; however, we encrypted one of the volumes. The only way to encrypt a volume is to do so when you first create it; so if you want an encrypted volume on the 440, it means that you will have to first delete the preconfigured RAID 5 array. When a volume is encrypted, the encryption key is stored on a user-supplied USB flash drive connected to the device's front-mounted USB port. If the 440 is power-cycled after removing the USB flash drive that contains the encryption key, the data stored on encrypted volume will no longer be accessible until you plug the USB flash drive back in. If you lose the flash drive or its encryption key file is damaged or deleted, you can consider the data stored on the encrypted volume as irrevocably lost. So if you choose to use an encrypted volume, do so wisely and carefully.

 
 It took over five hours to build two RAID 5 volumes.

This experiment also bore out some additional caveats for us. First of all, it easily took over five hours to create the two volumes. (It took the same amount of time to reset the device back to a single RAID 5 volume using all four drives, when we were done experimenting.) So if you are going to use multiple volumes, be sure to factor in the extra time needed to create the volumes--and those five-plus hours don't even include the time to format the volumes once they are created (which we found could be as much as another hour).

 
 The icon on the left indicates whether a volume is encrypted or not.

The second issue this brought to light is that the included documentation is significantly lacking. We found much of the documentation to be pretty light when it comes to discussing many of the device's features. In fact, other than mentioning that volume encryption is possible, we couldn't find mention of how to set it up anywhere in the documentation of even via Seagate's online support--we ultimately had to seek guidance from a contact we had at Seagate, who put us in touch with a Seagate tech.


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