Configuration options of the Conceptronic CH3SNAS

The CH3SNAS uses the Linux ext2 file system, and thus cannot preserve data which was written to the hard disks (e.g. using Microsoft Windows) before these are inserted into the CH3SNAS: reformatting will normally be necessary for both a new and a used hard disk. Lets assume the drives have storage capacities of respectively C1 and, if a 2nd drive is present, C2 Gigabytes. The CH3SNAS supports a number of different ways in which to format individual hard disk partitions using the built-in web interface:

  • Standard – each drive can be accessed as a different volume (results in a volume of size C1 and, if present, C2)
  • JBOD – Just-a-Bunch of Disks, allowing both drives to be accessed as a single large volume (of size C1+C2)
  • RAID 0 – files are “striped” over both drives, thus potentially giving higher performance (resulting in a single volume of size 2*min(C1,C2))
  • RAID 1 – files are automatically mirrored at the sector level on both drives, thus allowing data recovery if either drive fails. RAID 1 results in a single volume of size min(C1,C2). Note that this occupies 2*min(C1,C2) of total disk space.

Configurations 2, 3, and 4 require a dual-drive system. A RAID 0 or 1 volume can be no larger than the smallest of the two drives, but can optionally be configured to be smaller than min(C1,C2). Any remaining space on both drives becomes accessible as a single JBOD volume.

Consequently, a dual-drive system can support up to 6 alternative configuration options:

  • Two Standard volumes
  • A single large JBOD volume
  • A single RAID 0 volume (if both drives have the same size, and no JBOD volume is needed)
  • A single smaller RAID 1 volume (if both drives have the same size, and no JBOD volume is needed)
  • A RAID 0 volume and a JBOD volume
  • A RAID 1 volume and a JBOD volume (see screen shot)

  • It may be possible to create other working configurations (such as RAID 0 + RAID 1 + JBOD), but these cannot be created using the built-in configuration interface and will probably not have been tested.

    Under Windows, volumes can be assigned user-selectable drive letters (such as R: for a RAID).

Usage scenarios and target users of the Conceptronic CH3SNAS

Target users

The CH3SNAS seems to be targetted at home users with enough experience to set up a basic wired- or wirless network. Some effort was clearly invested in making the configuration of the system painless. The device and its manual thus do quite some handholding for the novice user to get the device to work as intended. The device and its manual unfortunately do not provide guidelines for novice users about suitable backup strategies or ways to safeguard their data. This may be current practice for this type of product, but is a problem when you give novice users the storage capacity to e.g. save all their home videos on a single drive or device. [IMO vendor should do something about this in printed manual, but volunteer to create a page on [[Data backup do’s and don’ts]]?]

The device does contain some optional features and settings (such as an FTP server or options for setting IP addresses) which are suited for more technically oriented users.

For the real enthusiasts (hobbyists, students, IT professionals) the CH3SNAS and some of its competitors provide

Compatibility with Microsoft Windows

The CH3SNAS is simplest to access for PCs running a version of Windows. This is because the access protocols are based on a set of proprietary Microsoft standards (MSB/CIFS) which are supported by Windows itself. Thus, to a PC running Microsoft Windows, the NAS looks exactly like another PC with one or more shared drives (see screenshot) and possibly a shared printer. No special software is therefore needed under Microsoft Windows to access or configure the CH3SNAS.

Although an EasySearch utility is provided to simplify initial network setup for non-technical users, it is relatively easy to set up the NAS without this using the written documentation. The actual configuration of the NAS (e.g. drive formatting, access control, enabling FTP) is done using a web browser (default IP address

Compatibility with Linux PCs

Internally, the device runs a small Linux distribution and an open-source file sever (called a Samba server). This is presumably to keep the materials costs (smaller processor, less emory), development cost (open source) and power consumption of the device down.

The CH3SNAS can also be accessed by Linux PCs: although LINUX natively tends to use a UNIX equivalent (NFS) to the Microsoft protocols provided by the CH3SNAS, Samba client support is relatively standard in Linux distributions. Although setting up access to from a Linux PC will, however, be a bit trickier than from a PC running Microsoft Windows, this is not necessarily an issue for typical Linux users.

Alternatively, Linux PCs users can access an implementation of NFS which is hidden in the 1.03 firmware, but is not accessible via the web-based configuration interface (yet). A tutorial on to access this hidden feature will be provided in the future. For urgent needs, see the personal Blog of Dennis, a former employee of Conceptronic.

Compatibility with Apple computers

The CH3SNAS does not natively support Apple’s AppleTalk protocol suite (roughly Apple’s equivalent of Microsoft’s SMB/CIFS). Modifications are possible to support this. This involves installing the open source Nettatalk server via the use of FunPlug.

Compatibility with the Playstation 3

The CH3SNAS is sometimes used with Sony’s Playstation 3 for wireless streaming of multimedia. In this scenario, the PS3 discovers the CH3SNAS using uPnP and uses uPnP to display available tracks/videos.

Compatibility with the XboX 360

As of Firmware 1.05, the CH3SNAS can be discovered by the XboX 360 for streaming multimedia content to the XboX.