Multimedia services are centred on the appliance's DLNA server which can stream content to UPnP compliant devices directly over the network. This is an optional feature and to activate it you need to use the maintenance screen in the web interface to download the DLNA plug-in from the CD-ROM. Once the server starts it automatically creates a separate folder with three sub-folders for storing music, pictures and videos. One multimedia feature conspicuous by its absence is the ubiquitous iTunes server as virtually all the competition offers this as standard.
Backup features are plentiful as the appliance can run volume snapshots allowing scheduled point-in-time copies to be taken of selected volumes. These can then be used to restore them to a specific time. The NAS Replication feature adds value because at scheduled intervals it will copy all the data on the designated primary appliance to another NS4300N backup appliance on the same network.
The One-Touch Backup feature is very similar to that offered by the Linksys NAS200 and worked fine during testing. From the SmartSync interface you need to create scheduled backup jobs where you pick your source files, a mapped folder as your destination and an interval which can be hourly, daily or weekly. Pressing the backup button on the appliance will automatically fire up the scheduled job but, as with the Linksys alternative, it will start all scheduled jobs on all PCs running SmartSync.
Every SmartSync backup job creates a folder on the appliance with the user's name appended. Nested under this are more folders with the machine name and the drive letter making it easy enough to root through your backups when you want to restore data using SmartSync. We did find performance to be uninspiring, though, with a 12GB backup returning speeds of around 5MB/sec.
The NS4300N is at best an average performer as we found copying a 690MB video clip between the appliance and a 3.2GHz Pentium D Windows XP system returned read and write speeds of 16MB/sec and 11.3MB/sec. Surprisingly, FTP speeds were down on this as copying the same file using the FileZilla utility gave average read and write speeds of 10.6MB/sec and 9.2MB/sec.
Promise Technology's new desktop NAS appliance offers a good range of storage features along with some decent backup options. However, performance is below par and the 2TB model on review is a tad pricey when compared to much of the competition at this level.