The Storage Central Manager utility needs to be loaded on all PCs that are to use the SC101. This only takes a few minutes and it commendably checks the Netgear web site for new versions and also the latest firmware for the appliance as well. Remember you can’t assign fixed IP addresses to the unit or partitions so your network must have a device such as a broadband router with a DHCP server running.
A wizard helps set up new partitions so you just provide a name, select a size and decide whether to share and password protect it. Once the new partition is created it is assigned a drive letter and subsequently appears as a new local drive. The Manager utility enables you to view existing partitions and spare drive space, attach, detach and delete volumes and sort out broken drives and mirrors. It’s simple enough to use although the wizard mode will be adequate for most users. Watch out if you have NAS appliances on the same network. We had an Iomega NAS 200d on the test network and the SC101 stole its mapped drive letters. Apparently, this is a Windows fault as it simply supplies the next drive letter even though it has already been mapped. To get round this we had to remap our NAS shares to the other end of the alphabet to stop this conflict and reboot the PC to get SC101 attachments sorted correctly.
We found general performance to be on a par with NAS appliances. The open source Iometer reported 8.9MB/sec for read operations and 3.4MB/sec for write operations - not far off Netgear’s quoted speeds. The same test on the 200d returned 9.1MB/sec and 3MB/sec for the same tests. Data backup comes into the picture as well as Netgear bundles a single user copy of the SmartSync Pro software which copies selected folders on your PC to a volume on the SC101 and then runs scheduled synchronizations to keep then in step with each other.
The SC101 offers a new and very interesting slant on network storage and the added bonus of being able to choose your own hard disks. We did encounter a few problems with drive mappings but at this price you could build yourself a high capacity appliance for substantially less than most NAS appliances.