Network Speed Performance with Buffalo Linkstation Quad Pro

I have recently upgraded my home network to gigabit. The main beneficiaries of this upgrade are my primary desktop and the Buffalo Linkstation Quad Pro. The rest of my PCs still run at 100M speed, notably my wife’s netbook and 2 of my notebooks.

My real world file to file transfer between the NAS and the PC is pretty bad. By copying a large file from the NAS to the PC, I am only getting 16-18MB/s (PC to NAS and NAS to PC) in transfer speed. Not good at all, and this is even with the NAS’s jumbo frame set at 9kB.

Not satisfied, I decided to tune the network card settings on my windows 7 box. This is what I did:

  • Use Realtek’s drivers instead of the TP-Link’s driver. I find the realtek’s drive has slightly better performance. I am not sure why.
  • Set Flow Control on the NIC – Off
  • Set Intetrupt Moderation to On – I would like to set this off but doing so will render the network really unstable.
  • Set Jumbo Frame to Disabled – Currently set to disabled as setting it to anything else will kill my network.
  • I have also experimented with the settings for the various checksums but I am unable to turn these settings off without affecting the network one way or another.

With this very minor changes, my file to file transfer (copying from NAS to hard drive) improves to 32-33MB/s. That’s a modest 83% speed increase with respect to the earlier 18MB/sec benchmark. Copying from hard disk to NAS is now 28MB/sec. A modest 55% speed increase.

I am still not very happy especially knowing that a gigabit network is “theoretically” capable of 125MB/sec (being 1000 divided by 8. Remember that 1 byte = 8 bits). With all the overheads of a TCP/IP network taken into consideration, I would have expected a 45MB/sec real world transfer speed, to be the absolute minimum.

Here are some benchmark test results when I use CrystalDiskMark. I have mounted one of the share on the NAS as my Drive B. For whatever reasons, the results on CrystalDiskMark seem to be too optimistic and I am just not able to produce this kind of results on actual usage.

Running NAS Peformance Tester v1.2, I get the following result:

These are not very fantastic results by the way, especially when compared with this user here at the Singapore hardware forum. His results are 57MB/sec read and 39MB/sec write. I am lagging behind by about 10-12MB/sec. That is a lot of difference given that a typical 100M network has an average performance of 10MB/sec or so.

Benchmark test on the local Drive D (which belongs to the 1TB WD drive) gives the following results:

So if I were to interpret CrystalDiskMark’s results, I would have to say this:

  • Reading a file from the NAS gives an average speed of 44MB/sec.
  • Writing a file to the local D drive gives an average speed of 64MB/sec.

So why would transferring a file from the NAS to the local drive D be only 33MB/sec? Something does not add up and I do not know why.

If any reader is able to offer an insight into this, I will be greatly appreciated.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to know what is the transfer speed from the NAS to a ramdisk on the desktop.I downloaded a free ramdisk utilities for windows 7 that allows me to create a ramdisk for testing. You can download this here – http://www.mydigitallife.info/free-ramdisk-for-windows-vista-xp-2000-and-2003-server/. This is an informative read by the way.

Installing is a breeze and I setup a ramdisk 1GB in size. Now some test results if I run the benchmark on the ramdisk.

Now copying a file from the NAS to the ramdrive (I copied a 700MB AVI file) gave me a speed of 38MB/sec. A 5MB/sec speed increase as compared with copying from the NAS to the hard drive.

Copying the same 700MB AVI file from the ramdisk to the NAS give me a speed of 30-33MB/sec. Again a 5MB/sec speed difference compared with copying from the hard drive to the NAS.

So the ramdrive only gives me a 5MB/sec speed advantage?. Not very impressive.

I still do not know why my desktop’s network transfer speed is so slow but for now, I will conclude that it is the limitation of my current hardware. The PC is afterall a 3-year old PC and is certainly getting a bit long in the tooth. But it is also to be noted that the gigabit hardware that I get are not world class standards by any means. I suppose this is what people say “you get what you paid for”.

Edit: 2014.0607

I have recently updated my main PC to a Haswell i5-4670 with 16GB ram and 128GB SSD and re-run the same diskmark test. Here is the result:

2014-07-06_1217_diskmark

 

None of the settings have been changed on the Buffalo Linkstation since the earlier tests….so it is quite apparent that the disk benchmark is also highly dependent on the speed of the PC. In this case, the sequential read improve from 53MB/s to 68MB/s and the sequential write improve from 32MB/s to 55MB/s. I have not done further test however.

Posted on May 15, 2011, in Buffalo Quad Pro NAS. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    I am also a Linkstation Quad user and was frustrated by the speed of the NAS when I was having the 100Mbit switch ( I think I couldn’t even achieve the speed your have mentioned at all). Thus I upgraded to a Gigabit Switch and the results still gave similar Samba performance, but ftp and appletalk really live up to the Gigabit level of performance that one would expect. I really hope Buffalo could do something about the Samba performance.

  2. Hi, What kind of speed did u get in your testing? Just curious

  3. Try using a program called TeraCopy to copy your files. I noticed a big improvement over just using Explorer. I’m consistently getting over 60 MB/sec write speeds this way.

  4. I am also only getting about 10-12 mbs transfers with many small files, one large i might get 14-16. I have a cisco 2950 24 port switch and my other 5 computers have cat6 cables and all run great (some with teamed nics get 200mbs transfers)

    How and where did you upload the realtec driver to this and configure settings? SADLY 30mbs would 2x my current setup. I want to keep this NAS vs a box with many HDD’s since it produces less heat but almost not worth it 😦

  5. Hi there. The realtec driver I used for my network card should be available from TPLink’s website. It has been a long time since I wrote that blog article but I think the driver I used has a filename “vista3264-v6.242.0824.2010.zip”. I am now running Windows 8 consumer preview and I no longer use that driver. If you are getting 10-16MB/s file transfer, I would think the bottleneck is in your network and not the buffalo linkstation, though I am not 100% sure in this case. I hope this helps 🙂

  6. I have a linkstation quad pro and I don’t get speeds more than 16mbps even after connecting the pc directly to the nas. Through the switch the transfer speed is not more than 5mbps. Copying files from the pc to a USB portable device achieves speeds more than 20 Mbps. Is there anything that I cud try?

  7. By connecting directly to the NAS, I take it that you are using a cross cable….if you can’t get anything more than 16mbps, i would say the bottleneck is in your PC’s network port. Try running in duplex mode and try optimizing the network card settings. There are plenty of info on the net that shows u how to tune the network card settings. I hope this helps.

  8. Venugopal Nair

    I believe that cross cables are not required because the PC automatically switches the signals on detecting a straight cable. I think I have found out what the problem is and now I can get a transfer rate of more than 60Mb per second. guess what, I have a new Acer desktop and a Gigabit switch too, however, I was still using CAT5 cables. I switched to CAT5e cables and immediately achieved such good transfer rates. anyways, appreciate your prompt responses. thank you,

  9. I am glad all work out for you 🙂

    Edit: I guess I learn something new about the linkstation :-D. The ethernet port on the linkstation is auto-sensing type indeed and will automatically create a cross-over if one connect the linkstation directly to a PC.

  10. There could be a whole stack of reasons you’re not seeing the performance you’re expecting, but storage benchmarking is a black art (I know I work for a very large storage vendor). The main thing you need to understand is how many requests you have going in parallell, what the latency is end to end, what your queue depth is and how big your transfers (I/O size) is. This all feeds into something called “Littles Law” and queuing theory.

    If you want good sequential performance then you’ll need to do the following

    1. Use more than one stream
    2. Allow more than one outstanding I/O per stream (4 is often a good number), this may be tunable in your network card driver/stack
    3. Do everything you can to reduce latency between the source and destination (good quality switches help as does tuning your network card driver’s send and receive buffers etc)
    4. Use large (ie greater than 64K) request sizes
    5. Dont use SMB 1.0 (which is incredibly chatty and introduces lot’s of unnecesary traffic)

    If you want to benchmark this stuff, get a proper benchmarking tool … I’d recommend iozone which is free and very good, stay away from iometer which has lots of little bugs which most people are blissfully unaware of.

    Also, unless your nas workload consists primarily of single stream large block I/O then the test your running is probably pointless, try modelling something that represents the actual workload you are likely to use including multiple streams, some random I/O etc

  11. Thanks John. This is very good info. I am glad you take the time to share this.

  12. For a consumer NAS, 9k jumbo frame does not offer much practical improvement. You can safely reset MTU back to the original default.

  13. I’m not a network expert so this might be a daft thought. You have a NIC at both ends. However much you tune the NIC on your PC, you presumably can’t tune the NIC in the Linkstation, so won’t it will always be a bottleneck? My Linkstation does exactly the same as yours. I also find the share on the NAS randomly freezes on some of my PCs.

  14. Hi Ric, I am now getting roughly 68MB/s sequential read and 55MB/s sequential write. What sort of benchmark are you getting?

  15. The linkstation i just slow. Cheap NAS’s like that use cheap processors and cheap nics that can’t keep up with higher speeds.

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