- Review Price: £446.49
It may now be under the auspices of the mighty Seagate but this hasn’t stopped Maxtor continuing to develop its line of desktop small business NAS appliances. Since acquiring the company in May this year, Seagate has decided to retain the Maxtor brand name, using it to deliver low-cost personal and small business storage products and to differentiate it from Seagate’s own high performance hard disks. The latest Maxtor Shared Storage II 1TB sits at the top of the Shared Storage family and aims to provide RAID protected network storage to home users and small offices along with automated backup facilities.
If there’s one thing Maxtor does well it’s build quality. This chunky appliance is extremely well manufactured. The solid plastic shell feels very sturdy and the side panels are covered with rubber panels that also stop the unit sliding around on the desktop. Another advantage is that they absorb any vibration making the appliance very quiet during operations. A small internal fan is fitted at the rear but this doesn’t make any noticeable noise either. You get a single Gigabit Ethernet port at the rear along with a couple of USB 2.0 ports that can be used to connect extra storage device or share printers over the network.
Maxtor’s EasyManage utility get installation up and running by searching the network for appliances and displaying them ready for selection. For user account setup you don’t need to go near the web browser management interface as you can create them from EasyManage. Just enter a user name and password and it’ll create a bunch of public and private folders on the appliance and add a desktop icon for you. A feature common to all the Shared Storage products is that multiple folders are automatically created for storing documents, web pages, music, software and photos. Maxtors’s Drag and Sort tool ties in with these as dragging and dropping a folder onto the desktop icon automatically scans the files and places them into the relevant folder based on their file extension. If you want to be a business user extra folders for spreadsheets, multimedia files and projects are also created.
With multiple user accounts in existence you can use EasyManage to change from one to another and it will automatically dismount the current drive, mount the new one and change the desktop icon to reflect this. Any folders dropped onto the icon will always go to the current user’s location on the appliance. The automated backup facilities are reasonably well featured and worked well during testing. From EasyManage you choose the files and folders to be included and decide what days of the week you want it run and at what time. A background process which is accessible from an icon in the System Tray looks after the schedule and also provides quick access for running defined backup jobs on demand and changing to a different account. The SimpleView option provides an at-a-glance status of completed backups and a useful feature is the ability to decide how many file revisions you want to keep.
When USB storage devices are plugged in they are declared as public shares available to all but read only access can be set if you wish. When a device is plugged in it is automatically recognised and made available as a public share which can then be mapped to a local drive letter. Note that the appliance only supports FAT32 partitions on USB devices.
Advanced settings can be modified from the appliance’s web management interface which opens with a wizard for setting up the time zone, administrative access restrictions and workgroup membership. The pair of 500GB hard disks defaults to a RAID-0 spanned 1TB volume but if you can afford a fifty per cent loss of storage space you can request a RAID-1 mirror if you wish. However, if a mirrored drive fails and needs to be replaced you’ll have to break the warranty seal on the rear panel to gain access. We also found that the power management setting for placing a drive in sleep mode does not function with these dual drive models and can only be used with attached USB storage devices.
The Gigabit Ethernet port makes its presence felt for general performance with a straightforward drag and sort copy of a 690MB video file from a Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D workstation taking 48 seconds for an average write speed of 14.4MB/sec. Copying the file back to the workstation delivered average read speeds of 19.2MB/sec. Tests run on an Infrant Techologies ReadyNAS NV and a Thecus N5200 RouStor returned 12.3MB/sec and 14MB/sec respective write rates and 25MB/sec and 26.6MB/sec read speeds.
Maxtor’s latest NAS appliance combines excellent build quality, extreme ease of use and a reasonable level of features including automated backup. However, competition in the entry-level NAS appliance market is really heating up and the Shared Storage II 1TB is on the pricey side – especially when you can get a Buffalo Technology TeraStation Pro 1.0 TB, which delivers a lot more features for your money, for only a small amount of extra cash.
EasyManage makes light work of installation and automates user account and folder creation.
Advanced settings are accessed from the web interface where you can decide how your hard disks will be used.
Note that power management and sleep timers can’t be used on Maxtor’s dual drive appliances.
SimpleView provides a useful log of all user’s backup tasks and their status.
The automated backup tools are easy to set up and use and you can maintain a history of files.
Score in detail