Review Price free/subscription
It's good to see SMC has added an iTunes server service and this provides a default Media folder where you import all your tunes too. A Media Server feature is provided where you can specify the scan path on the appliance, decide which file extensions are to be made available to devices and start a media scan. You also get a DownloadStation tool which is similar to that provided in QNAP's TS-109 although SMC only supports BitTorrent transfers and not HTTP and FTP.
Real world performance over Gigabit Ethernet is very respectable as copying a 690MB video file to and from the appliance returned average write and read speeds of 20MB/sec and 27.6MB/sec respectively. FTP performance using the FileZilla utility was a mixed bag as copying the same file from the appliance delivered a storming 34.5MB/sec but copying it back saw average write speeds drop to around 5MB/sec.
Using the default RAID-5 array we also tested the hot-swap capabilities by pulling a drive to simulate a failure. Returning the hard disk started an automatic rebuild but take a day's holiday if you plan on watching it as we clocked this at over 18 hours. If you want to change the current RAID array you use the Back to Zero Disk menu option to clear the current configuration. This will also wipe the firmware requiring a fresh installation where you choose a new array from the Discovery utility.
Workstation backup is handled by the bundled Backup Master utility, which secures selected files on your PC to the appliance at regular intervals and during this process you can encrypt and compress them. It also creates multiple restore points enabling you to restore older file versions. The appliance has three USB 2.0 ports with two at the rear and one at the side, which support storage devices and printers. Insert a USB storage device causes it to appear in the shared folder list but you'll need to assign access rights before anyone can use it. You can also backup the contents of a USB device to a default folder on the appliance but this must be run manually from the Advanced menu.
SMC delivers a nicely built NAS appliance at a reasonable price. The documentation could be more informative and it does come up well short of features when compared with the likes of Buffalo, NetGear, Synology and QNAP but performance is a cut above the rest