back to article Keeping warm in winter the el Reg way: Setting a NAS box ON FIRE

Hardware reviews are typically boring, tedious affairs with a fairly predictable outcome: someone sends you a minor iteration of a product and you verify that it behaves as expected. Every now and again, however, someone makes a claim so outrageous that you simply must test whether or not it's true. Such is the case with the …


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  1. jai

    by bell and by book next?

    Does this unit also claim the extreme waterproofing as the other unit you tested earlier?

    Or do you need one each for each element you wish to protect against?

    How does the cost of one of these compare to less hardy enclosures? Are you paying a hefty premium for the peace of mind that even the coming of Ragnarök will not affect your data?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: by bell and by book next?

      Claims the same extreme waterproofing and seems to meet the claims. They cost about as much as your average 4-bay NAS would; not bad, considering. With the new 6TB drives coming out...

  2. FutureShock999

    And this beats

    All you have done is hardened the disks. That still doesn't prevent theft of the entire enclosure. So while one of these looks perfect for protecting up to 4Tb of critical data that you don't want to back up to a public cloud even while encrypted...I am struggling to find why this beats having a nice Glacier back-up running on a standard Synology NAS...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: And this beats

      Because the cost and the restore time are out of reach for many businesses, and certainly for many individuals.

      Additionally, owning the equipment lets you sweat your assets in times of need. "Services" don't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And this beats

      Because it's your data on your hardware. Not your data on rented space in a colo where the NSA, the Chinese government and AWS miner bots can play with it all day.

      I'm liking the idea of this unit for SMBs. For those guys, having your shop burn down is the kind of thing that happens all too often, and very few businesses survive it.

      1. FutureShock999

        Re: And this beats

        I don't think you know how Glacier really works...every byte is heavily encrypted at backup. Your access is encrypted as well. You have your own private keys. And you can even pre-encrypt the data if you are terribly paranoid. Not to say that the NSA can't get past it...but it is unlikely they can get past it in any meaningful way due to volume.

        The only serious downside mentioned is that of the speed of the restore, which is critical for SMBs, but not so much for private individuals storing their video, picture, and music collections. But I would expect SMBs with proper IT to have a device like this AND an offisite backup as well...either cloud-based or physical. With Synology OS as a core, you could run their Glacier backup on this hardened box directly...belt and braces, as it were.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: And this beats

          You expect everyone to have cloudy everything because you're a cloudy cheerleader who has a miserable time understanding the downsides. (You posint history speaks to your bias quite well.)

          Like price.

          Glacier is far more expensive than something like an IOsafe. You also can't sweat assets you don't own. That's before we get into the cost of bandwidth, the cost of recovery and the time it takes to recover.

          Additionally, you're far too cavalier about security; currently, there is no way (short of one time pads, or you uploading everything heavily encrypted to begin with) that you can keep any data in the American cloud safe from the NSA. SSL is broken. Any key that lives with the provider belongs to the NSA. If you encrypt on your side before pushing up, you can't do WAN optimization.

          The American public cloud is only an option for rich Americans. It's a stupid plan for the rest of humanity, period.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I replicate my backups once a week from the backup VM to a disk which lives in my drawer at work. The reason I do this is for fire, flood, general building failure problems, but also lightning strike and other power surges. Not to mention if one copy if offline, an accidental erase won't kill primary and secondary.

    Does this unit have any particular resistance to lightning strike level power surges? If so, it's looking like a candidate to keep running at home.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      I don't know about lightning strike-levels, but the power did light up really pretty-like doing that sparky thing whilst we were busy burning it. Suspect the electronics inside got a good jolt.

    2. Callam McMillan

      Get a little UPS for power protection - I personally like the APC ones, and here in the UK they're quite cheap if you only need a small capacity model.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I do have a couple of UPSes one for the fish (filter only) and one for the servers, I've never been especially convinced that they will do anything other than basic surge protection.

        1. Callam McMillan

          Depends on what you mean by lightning strikes though. If you mean the kind that hits a area sub-station and puts a significant spike onto the line, plus all the noise associated with it, then a UPS will definately help. If you want protection against lightning hitting your house wiring directly, then I know of no system that gives total protection.

          1. Oninoshiko

            If you want protection against lightning hitting your house wiring directly, then I know of no system that gives total protection.

            The best protection against that is religion (It works as well as anything else).

            1. Putters


              Religion works less well than most things re lightning. As many German pastors found out prior to the invention of the lightening conductor.

              Mind you, the habit of going into the tallest building in the village and ringing the bells to scare aware the demons was probably not an inconsiderable factor in the death toll ...

              1. Hero Protagonist

                Re: Bellringing

                "Mind you, the habit of going into the tallest building in the village and ringing the bells to scare aware the demons was probably not an inconsiderable factor in the death toll ..."

                I guess that's why they call it a death *toll*


            2. Myvekk

              Unless you pick the wrong one, then the opposition might be out to get you...

  4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    How many

    Health and Safety Forms did you need to fill out to be able to do this?

    1. bpfh Silver badge

      Re: How many

      This is probably why they did it in Canada and not the UK ;)

      1. prodiG

        Re: How many

        We got in touch with the local fire department to see if they had any recommendations on how we could do this. Edmonton is a city that regularly places and lifts bans on backyard fires, but fortunately at the time we did the burn no such ban was in place. I can't speak for UK legislation, but fire legislation here for the most part isn't overly sensitive (excluding the kneejerk city-wide fire bans because someone did something Darwin Award-worthy).

        I had a very confused firefighter/admin staff have to push the "These guys are going to set a computer on fire for science... Do we have any legislation for that?" question up the chain of command but ultimately the fire chief didn't have anything for us beyond "If anyone thinks it's dangerous we'll have to show up and shut things down" implying that there would be some degree of hell to pay if we weren't being responsible.

        We looked into using official firefighter training facilities but those were not available to the public (even for science!), so we gathered all of the safety equipment we could and made sure we could have the flame under control in a matter of seconds if at any point things started to look questionable. The flame reached a point where I couldn't stand within five feet of it without the raw heat forcing me to reflexively shut my eyes, but at no point did anything in the vicinity suffer any damage (and no firefighters were called) so I'd say everything went well!

  5. Ralph B

    I was expecting ...

    I was expecting a graph of disk temperature over time, drawn from the live SNMP log ...

    What happened to that?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I was expecting ... was on fire. And the power supply went up in seconds. We burned the unit for 20 minutes and then doused it in cold water for 20 minutes. The unit was up for less than 60 seconds. It seemed somewhat anti-climatic to post that. (For the record, we didn't even see the disks hit 55 before the power went.)

      Looked into probes that could be used for this purpose. They were way beyond our budget. (As it is we lost several hundred making this video; there's no way we'll get paid enough to cover our time and materials.) So...yeah. Physics.

      Physics sucks.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: I was expecting ...

        Next time get yourself some IEC 60331 fire-rated cables!

        As for not getting paid enough to burn stuff ... is this the site that hosts BOFH or what?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: I was expecting ...

          We get paid...but it was an "own initiative" type thing, so a lot of it was on us. It was a blast, so I've no complaints...but it does put a bit of a cap on expenses when a large chunk is from your own pocket. That said, learning new things makes us better at this next time, so suggestions are always welcome.

          We'll look into the fire-resistant cables next time, however, I don't think that will help the external power supply. Go watch the video again, you'll see the PSU burning up not long after the thing is put into the fire. Pretty sure that kills any attempt at SNMP gathering, no matter which cable we use.

          That is where get into the remote temperature probes. Which is where the real money comes in. Near as i can tell a probe good to 800c would probably have run us more than the entire rest of the event combined...

  6. Candy

    This article (and others like it) are a major factor in my remaining a regular Reg reader. Well done.

    Damn. Does that make me part of an identifiable demographic?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Your details have been noted, citizen.

    2. MartinBZM

      "Does that make me part of an identifiable demographic?"

      Only as a potential IT Terrorist/Hacker/Malcontent to the NSA.

      Personally, living outside the US sphere of influence, I don't care as long as there a re no black helicopters circling my secret lair. MWUHAHAHAHAHA

    3. John Gamble
      Big Brother

      No One Is Watching

      Damn. Does that make me part of an identifiable demographic?

      Not at all. There are no thought police in Canada.

    4. prodiG

      Identifiably AWESOME demographic. Glad you liked it!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does it fare

    When the burning building collapses on top of it?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: How does it fare

      That is part of what we tried to simulate. The unit basically had white-hot coals underneath it, burning "building" all around it (including on top) and ultimately ended up buried in very hot coals for 15 minutes before we decided to put it out.

      Thus I'd say "it handled having a burning building on top of it rather well."

      1. Youvegottobe Joking

        Re: How does it fare

        I think the question was more along the lines of: How would it fare with a burning BRICK building landing on it?

        I suppose the answer is to keep it in the attic.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: How does it fare

          That thing is a tank. Seriously, a tank. You could hit the thing with a semi and it would probably still work.

          To put this in context: it is only slightly longer than your average 4-bas NAS and less wide. It has less total volume than an HP microserver and yet the damned thing weighs as much as a 3U 1500VA APC UPS. Those drives are protected. Go ahead and drop a brick building on it. It'll cope.

          1. GregC

            Re: hit the thing with a semi

            Was this the bit with the wieners?

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: hit the thing with a semi

              I say nothing!

          2. prodiG

            Re: How does it fare

            The 214 weighs a 12.4 kg or 28 lbs. That's a lot of mass to pack in a box that small (5.9 in (150mm) x 9.06 in (230mm) x 11.5 in (292mm)), and the vast majority of that weight went into that high-density, not-quite-ceramic white insulation that you'll see us pull out towards the end of the video.

            We wanted to keep the video under ten minutes so we didn't get too much into that, but suffice it to say this stuff is HARD. We could not for the life of us compare it to quite anything else we've ever seen, there's a good five minute segment of footage of us passing the chunk that was in front of the drives around and giving our collective oohs and ahhs before deciding that we have absolutely no idea exactly what we're looking at and are clearly not getting any useful footage out of it.

            I'm sure with enough pressure you could crunch this thing, but it would take an unholy amount of destruction to come down upon it. I would honestly not be worried until we were talking DC-in-basement-under-skyscraper levels of debris falling on top of it.

  8. rhidian

    Thanks for this, made my day.

    For your next assignment... Do you think you could borrow a cattle prod and test it with that.. Just curious :D

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge



  9. Slow Joe Crow

    Good test, now what?

    Fire extinguisher powder is hell on electrical/electronic stuff do props for using it and identifying how far it got. Personally I use a much cheaper and cruder solution, I store an external drive with backups in a fire safe with all the other important papers. Which I guess leads to the obvious, why don't you get a cheap fire safe from Office Depot or the local equivalent, put some hard drives, flash memory and burned CD & DVDs in the box and treat it to Reid 2 in order to see what happen?

    PS: flame icon because fire!

  10. Stevie


    And next week on Top Gear...

  11. MrF

    I love the smell of burning 'lectronics in the morning...

    Smells like...Christmas. :-)

    ♮Chestnuts roasting on a NAS Box fire...

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