Gerrards Cross Computer Club

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Page updated 15 August 2009

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ICY Box 4220 Overview

This page provides an overview of the ICY BOX NAS 4220. for brevity This is referred to as NAS on the rest of this page. 

I chose this box to provide a home backup solution for a number of computers on a local network. It would be equally suitable for a small office. I combined the NAS with a freeware backup solution Cobian for file backup and DriveImageXML for disk partition backup. The hyperlinks links point to support pages within my site.

Features that appealed

This NAS had several attractive features

Features that were not perfect

It was not totally perfect however and has the following issues (which did not prevent be buying it)

Availability

The device is available from a number of vendors in the UK. It is no doubt available in other countries as well.

Note that it requires two SATA disk drives and the manufacturer recommends buying drives from two different manufacturers. Note the warnings from the forum community that Samsung drives appear to be incompatible. I chose 750 Mbyte drives, one from Western Digital and one from Seagate.

I bought mine from DABS.

Note that the spindown fix requires a 1 Gbyte USB stick as well.

Installation of ICY BOX 4220

Overview

"Out of the Box" the device works with one annoyance. The disk drives do not spin down and stop. This leads to significantly higher power consumption than it would otherwise be.

Thanks to the forum there is a workaround and this is described in the pages below. The workaround can be installed without following all the explanation below. I included the details for the curious (and for my own benefit so that I can remind myself how it works without having to work it out again).

The NAS works very well and my  advancing understanding will be added to these pages as I find more about it.

Initial Installation

TBD

Configuring User Accounts with Windows

The box works well and there will be a page describing how to set it up.

The box is extensible to add additional functionality and I plan to set it up as an FTP server.

Scripting

The functionality of the box is extending using UNIX script files. Traditionally these are complex to understand (until you get on the right wavelength an have some knowledge of programming). 

Editing scripts traditionally uses a UNIX editor called vi. this is loved by UNIX experts and hated by those of us who are used to the Windows GUI world. Fortunately there is a way of editing scripts from a Windows environment (using a package called Notepad++) and to automatically install these when the NAS reboots. This makes it relatively easy to add functional enhancements with little or no UNIX knowledge.

The following are relevant to scripting

Package - userscript

This is a software package that extends the functionality of the NAS and enables scripts to be installed in a shared folder accessible from Windows environments where they can be easily edited. 

Access the page describing how to install here

Understanding how scripting works

It is not necessary to understand how the scripting interface works. This page is for the curious to look at and learn. It is also where I would come back to to remind myself what I have already discovered.

Access the page describing the scripting interface here

Workaround for Spindown problem

The biggest irritation with the box is that the disk drives do not spin down into low power mode. The problem arises because the NAS operating system has internal tasks that are scheduled to run regularly. They access the drives thus resetting the spin down timers!

The fix is to plug in a SB stick into one of the two USB ports on the NAS and to transfer the folders containing the files being accessed onto it. this sounds drastic but in reality it is quite simple.

This page contains instructions how to do it.

Configuring other features of the box

The NAS contains a number of other services which I did not expect to use. I have however used two of these features and had documented how to configure those here.

I have also included another configuration trick as this is not documented in the manual.

Enable telnet

This is a feature that provides a more basic command line access to the NAS. With telnet you have a much more powerful (and dangerous) method of accessing the device. 

I have used it for investigating the behaviour. As before this is documented so that I have a quick reference to it.

Out of the box the NAS does not seem to support telnet but there is a "secret" web interface to enable it.

Windows provides a basic telnet package but it has a vary unfriendly interface. the page describes how to install a free package PuTTY that provides a greatly superior user interface and hence is much easier to use.

The telnet support page is here.

Configuring FTP Server

The box provides an FTP server which works "out of the Box". The initial configuration of this however exposes external access to local network data. I have configured my FTP server so that it is locked down to the best of my knowledge and it should make it much more difficult for an external user to escape from the folder I have exposed to the world.

The documentation provided for this package was difficult to follow and was incorrect in places and it took me a while. I also had a battle with my router to pass the external FTP requests to the NAS correctly.  This is now in a working state and the instructions for how to set this up are documented [Caveat - they are not quite complete at the time of writing this.]

The FTP pages can be found here