For many years SMC has resolutely resisted the temptation to move into the home and small business network storage market but its iron will has finally broken. It signifies this with the launch of a single appliance, which it offers either as an empty box (the SMCNAS04) or with a quartet of hot-swap 250GB SATA hard disks and we have the latter on review.
Our first impressions of the TigerStore are very favourable as this sleek white box is well constructed and its clinical white lines make it stand out from a sea of bland boxes. The smoked plastic front panel enables you to see the status LEDs on the disk carriers behind and it incorporates a power button to one side. More LEDs are provided below this and these reveal the status and negotiated speed of the four Gigabit Ethernet ports at the rear plus the status of the RAID array. Usefully, the door can be locked to prevent access to the drives.
The TigerStore supports options for JBODs, mirrors, stripes, RAID-4 and RAID-5 arrays and defaults to the latter. BIG arrays a
re slated as a future feature although we can't see any major benefits to these. Called concatenation, the drive capacities are simply joined back to back to create one big drive. The main advantage of BIG is it enables you to use drives of different capacities in an array without losing any storage. However, no performance benefits are to be had and no fault tolerance is possible as if a drive fails you'll lose all the data on it and probably have trouble getting some data off the remaining drives.
Installation is helped along nicely by the bundled Java-based Discovery Utility, which locates the appliance on the network and presents it ready for configuration. Usefully, it also offers the option to map a share to a local drive letter. The web interface is a tidy affair, which opens with a status readout of the appliance and a list below of active shared folders, connected users and the time they logged in at.
Access security is limited to local users and groups as unlike appliances such as Netgear's ReadyNAS NV, SMC doesn't offer integration with NT Domain or Active Directory authentication. The appliance currently only supports access to shares over CIFS/SMB - NFS is a future option and although this is present in the user creation menu it's greyed out. FTP access is also on offer enabling users to access their own personal folder. Quotas are supported and two parameters needs to be entered as you set the total global quota space available and within this you can then limit the amount of space individual users can consume.