Installation is simply a case of connecting a PC, leaving DHCP to handle address assignments and pointing a web browser at the appliance’s default IP address. Alternatively, you can use the bundled FSG Assistant software to discover it automatically. The home page opens with options to view shared folders or go into the main configuration page. Only one default user has administrative privileges and is allowed to view all available shares and manage the appliance. For Internet testing we connected an intelligent ActionTec ADSL modem which the appliance accepted without any problems.
Users and groups are set up from the security page and after creating shared folders you can determine access based on username and group membership. There are no controls to enforce read only access but the latest firmware version does add quotas for managing space allowed for each user. General file sharing performance was good as copying a single 690MB video file from a workstation to the FSG-3 took 130 seconds for an average speed of 5.3MB/sec – virtually the same as for the Maxtor and Western Digital appliances.
The FSG-3 runs an Apache web server, supports SSL encrypted access and allows the server to be accessed from the WAN. An FTP server is also provided which uses the same user access settings for the shared folders. As with the web server you can open it up to the Internet and use SSL encryption as well. Port forwarding allows you to open up access from the WAN to specific PCs and usefully this supports multiple IP entries and port ranges.
Printers are easy enough to share and we had no problems with an Epson Stylus Photo 950 which was added using the Windows wizards. As always, if you use a local printer and ink level monitoring utility it’s unlikely it’ll work with the printer attached to the appliance – it certainly didn’t for our Epson printer. The bundled Acronis True Image software could prove valuable as it allows you to take hard disk images and store them on the appliance. However, the version provided only allows whole hard disks to be imaged and restored and if you want features such as scheduled and incremental backups you’ll need to upgrade which will cost around an extra £20.
The FSG-3 certainly wins out for storage options and looks a great all-in-one small office appliance for storage and general Internet access. However, the gains in connectivity features are offset by the current lack of eSATA drives and limited access controls for shared folders.