Freecom's latest Data Tank certainly lives up to its name as this tiny desktop NAS appliance is endowed with a fine pair of 1TB SATA hard disks. It's nicely put together as well as the chassis is constructed of solid aluminium. However, there's much more to the Data Tank than just a massive data repository as it provides an 802.11b/g wireless access point, four switched Gigabit LAN ports and a separate WAN port as well.
The appliance sports a 400MHz Marvell processor partnered by 64MB of DDR memory and 512KB Flash memory. You get a pair of USB 2.0 ports and these support external storage devices and sharing printers over the network. Usefully, for USB drives you have buttons accompanying each port enabling devices to be safely removed. The pair of drives can be configured as a stripe or mirror and are formatted using the Linux EXT3 file system. Contrary to Freecom's marketing blurb JBODs, or separate drives, aren't supported as this option isn't present in the web management interface.
There also appears to be some confusion about the two buttons on the front panel as Freecom's web site and product brochure allude to the upper button being used to unlock an encrypted partition on the appliance. However, there's no mention of this feature in the user guide and the configuration tool for this isn't provided. The upper button is actually designed to be used to initiate backup jobs but even here the user guide provides no further enlightenment. Nevertheless, we created a backup job on the appliance and found that pressing the button twice in quick succession activated it. We also found that the button will simultaneously activate every backup job on the appliance so use it with caution.
General performance isn't anything to write home about as copying a 690MB video clip via a Boston Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D system running Windows Vista returned modest read and write rates of 13.5MB/sec and 11.1MB/sec respectively. FTP speeds were noticeably better with the FileZilla client utility reporting average read and write speeds of 18.6MB/sec and 12.8MB/sec using the same file. When a USB storage device is plugged in the appliance automatically shares its contents but performance here isn't great either as copying files across to the appliance and back from a USB stick returned read and write rates of less than 5MB/sec.
Workstation backup is handled by the bundled Acronis True Image software, which allows you to secure hard disk images to the appliance. From its tidy interface you can select whole hard disks or partitions and image them to any local or network destination. It could prove useful but note that this is an OEM workstation version and will only allow whole hard disks or partitions to be restored.