Wednesday, March 12, 2008

LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini 500 GB review

LaCie 301269U Ethernet Disk Mini Home Edition 500 GB Network Attached Storage Hard DriveBought the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini (500GB) over the weekend, and got it hooked up last night. So far I’m very impressed. I copied over my MP3 library, and activated LaCie’s built-in media server: every copy of iTunes on the network immediately saw the share, and my Sonos was able to index all of the MP3s so that they’re playable through any music station on the Sonos net. So far, so good.

I chose this disk over some slightly less expensive external hard drives because it supports ethernet as a connection. I didn’t want the hard drive tethered to a PC on the network… both Robin and I use laptops exclusively, and I wanted our central storage to be independent of our computers. Erik will be proud of me: for the first time ever I’m getting serious about a comprehensive storage approach for the entire family.  (Yes, I flirted with the Mirra several years ago, but ran into resource issues – the app just slowed down my PC to the point that I couldn’t keep it installed – and I’ve had two (two!) hard drive failures since then. In the end I’ve only lost a few months’ worth of files – I’d backed up everything on to my iPod late last summer – but it was well past time to get my act together.

So: for less than $200 I’ve got 500 gigs of storage, reachable from any PC/component on my network. The ethernet connection is a big deal: in addition to our PCs, I have the Sonos, my TiVo, and my Sage Media  Extender which are all using ethernet to send/receive data. In the next few days, I’m going to get all of our digital photos moved over (currently scattered on 3 different machines, 2 photo sharing services and a handful of DVDs and CDROMs). After that, I’ll transition off the Mirra for Robin and get our PCs regularly backing up to the LaCie.

Unknowns: is there any way to use this for direct storage for the TiVo? I don’t think so, haven’t looked into it yet. Can the Sage stream video stored on the LaCie to my TV? Also unknown.

Anything you want to know about the LaCie? Oh, one other comparison to the Mirra: it’s about 10% of the size, and 0% of the noise. Seriously, it was beginning to sound like we had a jet landing in our closet (where my router lives and where all the ethernet connections in the house terminate).



  1. Rick, I have a similar (but earlier and costlier) version of the LaCie. I like the design but find it a bit slow although ultimately useful as as NAS box.

    One limitation in particular is annoying and I wonder if it is addressed in more recent versions: I can only store files up to 4 Gb in size, ruling out using the LaCie as backup for archives or storing virtual machine images on it.

  2. Warning: Do not put it in a warm place.

    I've had countless LaCie drives overheat because of their poorly designed enclosures with no fans.

    If it's one of the bigger enclosures with a fan, check the fan regularly. I've also had those fail, and a $4 commodity part failure ends up destroying a several hundred dollar investment, and that's not counting what the data's worth.

  3. NAS drives can be set up with different file systems. By default, the drive is likely formatted as FAT32, limiting max file size to 4GB regardless of the size of the volume. the LaCie admin/setup page for the drive permits reformatting the drive to use the underlying Linux volume format to EXT3, which permits virtually unlimited files sizes. Give that a try.

    As for heat - this looks like a single drive enclosure, quite similar to several that I have. They run quietly, and are just warm to the touch. I've had drives from other manufacturers that are simply too hot. The LaCie aluminum casing seems to act like a heat sink; better than plastic that cannot conduct heat at all.

    As for TiVo...go on over to for lots of good info on what drives are compatible and hw to do it. Ideal drives for fast stroage expansion are eSATA - Series 3 can use most any eSATA drive; TiVo HD can only use the special WD drive.

    Overall, I like my LaCie ED mini Home - nice for a home network. For faster applications, I have direct connected USB and FireWire drives. The USB link for the mini home is really not that fast, due to its internal OS really being optimized for use as a NAS.


  4. Hey Rick! Couple of things:

    1- Is this LaCie a RAID? Because otherwise I'd be very nervous about keeping my only copy of anything (e.g. iTunes library) on it. You probably already knew that, but it doesn't hurt to ask :-)

    2- If you're keeping your MP3s on the LaCie, how do you manage your iPod(s)? I really want to move my iTunes library to my Infrant NAS, but then I don't have direct access to the files in Tunes — they're only available as a Shared Library.

    Anyway, glad you like it. The NAS life is the life for me.

    - JZ

  5. @JZ - no, not a RAID array. But given that it's a backup (i.e., the files also exist on at least one other machine) I'm ok with that for now. Eventually I'll want to migrate to a RAID setup, but I think I'd need budget approval from my better half for that. :)

    I currently don't manage the MP3s on the LaCie directly - they're there more for the Sonos and the other copies of iTunes in the house. Truth be told, most of my music listening these days is in Rhapsody, so I haven't paid much attention to iTunes of late.

    @Mike - Thanks for the tips. Will have to check out the WD drive for the TiVo HD box...

  6. Anyone found a way to get around users having to put in id and password at every boot, to get access to the mapped drive?

    Great for businesses, but not needed in the household.
    Thanks, Gary

  7. Yeah, but how are you going to back it up?

  8. ive heard many people comment on the NAS features of this device, but how does it function as a drag/drop storage drive? can you single out folders and files to backup, or is this device primarily media oriented?

  9. Hey all!

    Got a question from my brother-in-law today, who's recently hooked up a Sonos system to a LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini, just like Rick did. However, when he copied his music to the LaCie, only some of them keep their tags and none of them are playable from the Sonos and not even from the computer. They're perfectly visible on the mapped drive, though. I browsed through the settings, searching for something that might be configured incorrectly, but no luck. Anyone encountered the same problem? The drive is formatted as NTFS, btw.


  10. Very helpful, Rick. Before reading your comments on the LaCie I sent this to the Sonos forum:s