ASUSTOR Lockerstor 4RS Review - 1U 4-drive NAS

Over on the Geerling Engineering YouTube channel, my Dad and I just posted a video where we installed the ASUSTOR Lockerstor 4RS - AS6504RS at his radio station, to increase their raw network storage capacity from 4 to 16 TB:

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In the video, we focused on the installation, though I highlighted the unit's top-line features at the beginning.

In this blog post, I'll quickly recap the main features, then give more impressions of the unit from our experience setting it up, and my Dad's use of it at the station since we recorded the video.

Deadbolt impacts some ASUSTOR NASes — check your backup plan!

ASUSTOR ARM NAS with four hard drives and cover removed

A few months ago, I wrote up a post covering my backup plan. In it, I talk about the 3-2-1 backup strategy:

  • 3 copies of all your important data
  • 2 different media
  • 1 offsite

In that post, I mentioned I back everything up with two local copies (two separate NAS units), and a third offsite copy on Amazon Glacier Deep Archive.

Raspberry Pi holds its own against low-cost ARM NAS

Earlier this year, I pitted the $549 ASUSTOR Lockerstor 4 NAS against a homebrew $350 Raspberry Pi CM4 NAS, and came to the (rather obvious) conclusion that the Lockerstor was better in almost every regard.

Jeff Geerling holding Raspberry Pi Radxa Taco NAS board and ASUSTOR Drivestor 4 Pro

Well, ASUSTOR introduced a new lower-cost NAS, the $329 Drivestor 4 Pro (model AS3304T—pictured above), and sent me one to review against the Raspberry Pi, since it make for a better matchup—both have 4-core ARM CPUs and a more limited PCI Express Gen 2 bus at their heart.

Around the same time, Radxa also sent me their new Taco—a less-than-$100 Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 carrier board with 5x SATA ports, 1 Gbps and 2.5 Gbps Ethernet, an M.2 NVMe slot, and an M.2 A+E key slot. (The Taco will soon be available as part of a kit with a CM4 and case for around $200.)

The specs evenly matched, at least on paper:

Check your driver! Faster Linux 2.5G Networking with Realtek RTL8125B

Since the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 was introduced last year, I've been testing a variety of PCI Express NICs with it. One of the main types of NIC I'm interested in is cheap 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet adapters.

2.5 Gigabits is about the highest reasonable bandwidth you can get through the PCI Express Gen 2.0 x1 lane on the Raspberry Pi, and it's also a lot more accessible than 10 Gigabit networking, especially for home users who might already have Cat5e runs that they are loathe to swap out for Cat6 or better cabling.

In my testing, besides discovering that not all 10 Gbps SFP+ transceivers are created equal, I found out that when it comes to performance, the Linux driver you're using matters—a lot.

Moving my home media library from iTunes to Jellyfin and Infuse

Since 2008, I've ripped every DVD and Blu-Ray I bought to my Mac, with a collection of SD and HD media totaling around 2 TB today. To make that library accessible, I've always used iTunes and the iTunes Shared Library functionality that—while it still exists today—seems to be on life support, in kind of a "we still support it because the code is there" state.

The writing's been on the wall for a few years, especially after the split from iTunes to "Music" and "TV" apps, and while I tested out Plex a few years back, I never really considered switching to another home media library system, mostly due to laziness.

Jeff with Mac mini NAS

I have a 2010 Mac mini (see above) that's acted as my de-facto media library/NAS for over a decade... and it's still running strong, with an upgraded 20 TB of total storage space. But it's been unsupported by Apple for a few years, and besides, I have a new ASUSTOR Lockerstor 4 with 16 TB of always-online NAS storage!

Building a 2.5 Gbps 5-drive Pi NAS - Hardware Setup

A few months ago, an ASUSTOR representative emailed me with an offer I couldn't refuse. He saw my blog post and video about building the fastest Raspberry Pi NAS, and asked if I wanted to put up my best Pi-based NAS against an Asustor NAS.

We settled on the Asustor Lockerstor 4, with dual-2.5 Gbps networking, 4 GB of RAM, and a quad-core Intel CPU. To make things even, he convinced Seagate to send four 8TB IronWolf NAS drives. I don't fancy he thought it would be a good show if I kept on using my four used WD GreenPower drives from 2010!

I posted a video of the hardware build process for both NASes on my YouTube channel: