D-Link DNS-323 Network Storage Device Mini-review

D-Link DNS-323
I picked up this little guy (aka the Toaster) recently after seeing Peter’s success with it.

It’s a network connected storage device. What does that mean? It means that you can put two SATA hard drives inside it, plug it into your network and access those drives anywhere on your local network.

Until recently, I had two 500gb SATA drives inside my PowerMac G5 tower that I was using as a file server. Unfortunately, the videocard (among other things) seems to be dying and a replacement is pretty expensive. I can’t even remote into the box anymore. Actually the replacement seems to be about the price of the DNS-323 (around $150 Cdn which doesn’t include any drives) so it seemed like a sensible way to upgrade. You can setup the drives to work as one giant drive or in a number of other Raid configurations. I’m currently only using one drive in there until I get a chance to clean off the other 500gb drive I have. I haven’t read any limitations on drive size but I’m sure they exist.

D-Link DNS-323

The main (big) selling point for me is the fact that it has a built in bit torrent client with a web based interface that you can interact with from any device on your network. This completely replaces the PowerMac for me – at least how I was using that machine as primarily a file server and bit torrent client box.

Unfortunately, the downsides I’ve come across so far include crappy Safari support so I have to use Firefox to initiate torrents. Also, the firmware likes to forget some settings when you reboot the device. Fortunately, the firmware seems to be actively updated and the settings bug is an acknowledged issue that will be addressed soon. The initial setup also required a PC to configure. I did this via VMWare but had to tweak my network settings so that the bridged connection could actually see the DNS-323.

Once it was all setup though, it worked like a charm. It just pops up as a network server on all my Macs and fully accessible. I’m not currently using it as my Time Machine backup system but I could easily set it up to do it.

The device also has a USB port but that’s reserved to function as a wireless printer port only so you can’t plug the toaster into your computer and access files via USB.

I haven’t set it up yet, but it also can run as an iTunes server which might be handy for those with multiple computers and one giant library.

Overall, I’m very happy with the DNS-323. It does what it says it will do and after a little setup, can literally be left alone like a toaster. Check out the manual, driver and firmware details on the D-Link support site.

10 Comments

  1. ritchie says:

    I got this guy a while back. There is a pretty cool open source community that is hacking it. I use it as an SVN server and although I doubt that a lot of people would use it for that purpose; it is still cool! http://wiki.dns323.info/

  2. Are you sure about being able to use it as a Time Machine backup location? I didn’t think that was supported.

    It does sound like a good little product. I’m thinking I’ll need something like then when/if I ever get around to purchasing an AppleTV and hack it to be able to access network storage…

  3. John says:

    Kevin: I’m not 100% sure about the Time Machine usage now that I think about it….usually TM drives have to be Apple formatted to be recognized and there doesn’t appear to be an option to format the drive that way.

  4. Tony Chung says:

    I bought one of these in the spring and loaded it with two 1TB drives (mirrored). After it was on for about 20 minutes, the face panel froze. I had to unplug the unit, wait a few minutes, then restart it. Again, after 20 minutes, kaput.

    After speaking with D-Link support (who were very good), who recommended installing a beta firmware update and other troubleshooting methods, I returned the device and bought a Synology DS207 . It cost more than the D-Link, but my tech support friend recommends it to all his clients, so I thought it would work for me.

    Sure enough, I had the thing connected to my network in no time. I use it mainly for backup. The application it comes with can be set to schedule or sync.

    It runs linux and provides a web server, bittorrent client, photo gallery, print server, and other stuff I don’t use. The only catch is that I cannot access both my gateway/router and my DS207 through the web at port 80. I have to change the port to access one or the other.

    Cheers,
    -Tony

  5. John says:

    Tony: Yeah, a few other people have recommended the Synology device as well. I just found that it was ALOT more $$$ than the D-Link unit for similar functionality. I don’t need enterprise class storage at home so the D-Link has suited my needs quite well.
    I haven’t had any freezing problems with my unit although if I reboot it, the settings in the bittorrent client seem to reset but this is a known issue to be addressed with a ‘due any day now’ firmware update.

  6. Lawrence says:

    John,

    Have you confirmed that the DNS323 can be used as a Time Machine backup unit? I am shopping a NAS that can be used for backup up my 4 PCs and a MacBook Pro. Thanks.

  7. John says:

    Lawrence: I haven’t done it myself yet but it appears to be possible.

  8. horto says:

    setting up the dns-323 to use time machine is fairly straightforward. you can even slice the drives to reserve a certain amount of drive space for each mac in your house.

    feel free to check out my article on it

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