- Review Price: £113.54
We’ve seen a steady demand for diskless NAS appliances that allow users to pick their own hard disks or maybe put an old timer back into action. The latest DSM-G600 from D-Link does just that as it allows you to add a single IDE drive and share it over wired and wireless networks.
D-Link has never had any significant presence in the NAS market with it making an abortive entry some three years ago with its ill-fated DNS-6040 rack mount appliance which lasted only a few months before being withdrawn. With the DSM-G600 it has set its sights a lot lower as this little plastic box is aimed at the consumer and small office market. You get room for one IDE disk of your choice, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an 802.11b/g wireless access point. A couple of USB ports are also provided at the rear for attaching external storage devices.
Installation starts in a similar manner to Thecus’ YES box N2100 where you undo a couple of screws at the back and slide the lid off. However, it’s a little more fiddly with the DSM-G600 as the hard disk slots into a fixed tray and the IDE cable has to be folded over the top of the drive as it’s positioned to the side rather than behind it. The appliance needs to format the drive as soon as it’s powered up and note that it uses the EXT2/3 file systems and doesn’t support FAT32 or NTFS.
The bundled Easy Search utility hunts down the appliance on the network and provides quick access to the web interface which requests that the drive be formatted before going any further. For testing we installed a 250GB Maxtor ATA/133 hard disk which took around five minutes to prepare. The interface then offers to run a quick start wizard which takes you through securing administrative access, setting up network addresses and workgroup membership and configuring the wireless settings. The appliance can function as a wireless client or access point and offers good security with support for SSID masking plus 64/128-bit WEP, WPA and WPA-PSK encryption.
User access can be controlled only with a local user database where you decide what files and folders they are allowed to access and what their read and write privileges are. The appliance also functions as an FTP server where you can apply user access controls to specific folders. You can also restrict the number of users that can access the FTP server simultaneously and implement bandwidth controls as well.
The appliance offers an unusual backup facility where you use a separate screen to create schedules for downloading files to the appliance over FTP or HTTP. You provide login details, enter the URL of the source, select a location on the appliance to copy the files to and set a recurring schedule. We tested this using an Iomega NAS appliance running an FTP server and it worked fine. A status screen is provided to keep an eye on scheduled jobs and it was disappointing to see that the download path for each job showed all login details including the account password for the remote system in plain text!
The bundled Nero BackItUp utility is easier to use for backing up PCs to the appliance. It’s really designed to copy data to removable media such as DVD-RW but works well enough with the DSM-G600 as you can create scheduled backup jobs that copy data to a share that’s been mapped to a drive letter. Backup speeds are quite good as we secured and verified a 1.1GB mix of files to the appliance over Gigabit Ethernet in a shade over ten minutes. After a full backup has been run you have the option of using update backups which only copy across modified or new files. BackItUp also has an option for backing up a complete drive or partition but it will only let you select a DVD or CD drive as a destination and not the mapped drive.
”’The Easy Search utility automatically find the appliance on the network.”’
During testing we encountered a bizarre fault – if we selected the Status tab in the web interface the appliance disappeared off radar and froze. The Easy Search utility could no longer find it and the only way to get it back was to power it off and reboot it. We advised D-Link of this problem and it did make a valiant attempt to resolve it by providing new firmware versions but these made no difference. We then swapped the older Maxtor drive for a Western Digital WD2500 ATA/133 hard disk and the problem disappeared. We also found an interesting news story where a German court ruled in September that D-Link’s implementation of Linux in the DSM-G600 violated the terms of the GPL (General Public License). Presumably, that’s why D-Link’s web site now has links for downloading the source code for the appliance.
The DSM-G600 is a simple, low cost NAS appliance that at first glance looks good value. The wireless functions add an extra dimension to shared storage but the backup features are comparatively weak and in D-Link’s world not all IDE hard disks are equal.
The Status screen that caused so many problems with our Maxtor hard disk installed.
The Scheduler tools allow files to be backed up regularly from FTP and HTTP sources.
Access to the FTP server can be restricted and bandwidth controls applied.
BackItUp utility provides basic features for scheduling regular client backup jobs.
Score in detail
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