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It’s taken over a year but Freecom has finally added wireless capabilities to its neat little FSG-3 Storage Gateway desktop NAS appliance. We first looked at the Storage Gateway back in 2005 and were mightily impressed with the range of features it offered. The WLAN model delivers pretty much the same facilities but now includes an 802.11g wireless access point.
The Gateway uses a standard ATA drive with four models available ranging from 160GB to 500GB. It provides shared network storage over CIFS/SMB or FTP so Linux or Macintosh systems will need to access it over either of these protocols as it doesn’t support NFS or AFP. Four USB 2.0 ports are up for grabs and can be used to connect other external storage devices or printers for sharing. Alas, Gigabit Ethernet isn’t on the menu as the Gateway still provides only four switched Fast Ethernet ports, one of which is designated for WAN duties.
Internet access can be dished out to all users simply by connecting an ADSL or cable modem and the Gateway provides firewall protection. Four connection modes are available with PPPoE and PPTP supported along with dynamic and fixed IP addresses. Using dynamic addressing we connected a simple intelligent ActionTec ADSL modem and had Internet access up and running in seconds. Along with the USB variety the Gateway also provides an eSATA port for connecting external hard disks over a high-speed 3Gbps link.
When we looked at the standard Gateway, eSATA devices were very thin on the ground but the situation has improved since then. Freecom offers its own Hard Drive Pro models with eSATA interfaces and Seagate also has a range of external drives as well. The Gateway needs to be powered down before adding an eSATA drive which must also be preformatted as FAT32 if you want read and write access. A great idea but if you’re sharing an eSATA drive over the network then all its speed benefits will be lost as the Fast Ethernet switch will simply smother its performance potential. In fact, Seagate’s drives are aimed primarily at a direct connection with a PC as they come with a PCI eSATA card included (see our review of the Seagate eSATA drive).
Appliance installation won’t take long as the bundled FSG Assistant locates the Gateway on the network for you. The web management interface has been redesigned and although it’s still somewhat basic it does provide easy access to all the functions. Shared folders are simple enough to set up and security options have improved as you can create users and groups and determine whether each has read only or read/write access. Storage usage can be controlled by assigning quotas in MB or GB to selected users.