The appliance itself is a reasonably well constructed plastic box although the front door can’t be locked shut and the drives are held in place with flimsy plastic hot-swap carriers. It’s endowed with a 333MHz FreeScale MPC8313E processor along with 128MB of DDR2 memory and the embedded Promise PDC20771 controller supports mirrors and stripes. You have a Gigabit Ethernet port at the rear and the single USB port alongside can be used to connect external storage, share printers over the network and add an intelligent APC UPS.
The main PASM web interface is nicely designed and also offers a setup wizard where you can create new users and groups, activate file sharing services for Windows, Unix, Linux and Macintosh users, start the FTP server and create new shared folders. Security is good as the appliance supports both workgroup and Active Directory modes for Windows users and share access can be strictly controlled with read/write or read only access granted to each user. You can also use quotas to limit their personal storage and FTP access can be determined on a per share basis.
Backup options centre solely round the SmartSYNC tool which provides facilities for securing local files and folders to the appliance. This is accessed from the SmartNAVI interface where you select your source data and either secure it manually or run it to a schedule. If you enable the One Touch Backup feature from the PASM interface you can use SmartNAVI to fire up all predefined backup jobs immediately. Every SmartSYNC backup job creates a folder on the appliance under the user’s own share with sub-folders showing the machine name and the drive letter. Data can be easily restored directly from the SmartNAVI interface as it lists all your own backups and associated files on the appliance and you can restore them to their original location or another of your choice.
For testing, we popped in a couple of Western Digital Raptor drives and configured them as a stripe. General performance is nothing to write home about as copying our test video clip between the appliance and a Boston Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D workstation over Gigabit Ethernet returned read and write speeds of 10.5MB/sec and 9.1MB/sec. FTP speeds weren’t any better as the FileZilla client reported average read and write speeds of 7.5MB/sec and 7MB/sec.
This little two-drive NAS appliance offers a reasonable range of features for the price and Promise’s new SmartNAVI utility provides easy configuration and swift access to the main utilities. However, our favourite dual-drive NAS box is still Netgear’s ReadyNAS Duo as it offers much more for a similar price and better performance.