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Anthology's appliance does NAS well and lots more

Reviewing terabyte-plus network-attached storage appliances.

By James Gaskin, Network World
May 22, 2006 12:06 AM ET

Network World - With capacities now reaching 1TB or higher, network-attached storage appliances may soon steal thunder in the entry-level file server market from leader Microsoft. With continued development in their operating systems, some of these NAS boxes may become the first wave of user-friendly servers for the entry level.

How we did it
Archive of Network World tests
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Based on our latest tests of five 1TB-plus NAS appliances, we think small companies with straightforward storage needs can save money and be well served by such a unit. Larger companies that need to increase their disk storage also can benefit from these systems.

Since our last test in October, storage space has increased, Gigabit Ethernet interfaces have been added (in four out of the five units tested), and USB connections are pretty much standard for the addition of printers and external disk drives. Administration utilities also have improved, making the units easier to install in most cases, and easier to manage after installation (see How we did it).

New Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) disk drives have stormed this market. Faster than older Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) drives yet less expensive than SCSI drives, the SATA 7200 RPM drives have 8MB buffers for improved performance. The SATA drive connectors, about the size of a USB port, make it easier to cram four disks inside amazingly small enclosures.

Four of the five units tested include client backup software. All offered private user directories to encourage users to store files on the server rather than personal hard drives. Our biggest complaint was that backing up the NAS units themselves could be better addressed by some vendors.

We tested Buffalo Technology's TeraStation Pro, Infrant Technologies' ReadyNAS NV, Anthology Solutions' Yellow Machine P400T, Sabio Digital's CM-4 and Iomega's 400R. Each used RAID-5 as the default configuration, which reduced the usable disk space for several units to about 700MB (see box below). (We also tested the Maxtor 1TB OneTouch III unit.)

The combination of price, user access controls, bold styling, and the bonus of wiring hub and router/firewall for a complete "branch office in a box" overcame the Anthology Yellow Machine's lack of a Gigabit Ethernet port, and we gave it the Clear Choice Award. See comparisons for all five here:

Yellow Machine P400T OVERALL RATING
Company: Anthology Solutions. Cost: 1TB, $999; 1.6TB, $2,000; 2TB, $2,500. Pros: Complete network in one box with router and firewall; good user security controls. Con: No Gigabit Ethernet connection; no USB ports for easy back-up; single point of network failure.
Company: Buffalo Technology. Cost: 600MB, $799; 1TB, $999; 1.6TB, $1,800; 2TB, $2,000. Pros: Handy LCD pane on front; easy setup; backup software included. Cons: Lacks user controls, such as home-directory creation and folder-access restrictions.
Company: Infrant Technologies. Cost: Case/OS only: $649; 1TB, $1,300; 1.6TB, $1,800; 2TB, $2,300. Pro: Small attractive case; home- directory support; good status screen. Con: No folder-access restrictions.
StorCenter Pro NAS 400r OVERALL RATING
Company: Iomega. Cost: 640GB, $3,800; 1TB, $4,900; 1.6TB w/Print Server, $6,800; 400e Expansion Chassis 1TB, $3,400. Pro: Windows Storage Server 2003; dual Gigabit Ethernet ports; excellent Windows client backup software. Cons: Windows Storage Server 2003; most expensive unit tested.
Company: Sabio Digital. Cost: 1TB, $999; 1.6TB, $1,600; 2TB, $2,300. Pro: All clients supported; some folder-access restrictions. Cons: Installation and administration needs polish; unit backup support lacking.
The breakdown  Anthology Buffalo Infrant Iomega Sabio
Management 25%
4 4 4 4 3
Capacity/value 20% 5 5 4 2 5
User access controls 20% 5 3 3 5 3
Backup options 15% 3 4 5 4 4
Installation 10% 4 5 5 4 2
Documentation 10% 4 4 5 4 3
TOTAL SCORE 4.25 4.1 3.95 3.8 3.45
Scoring Key: 5: Exceptional; 4: Very good; 3: Average; 2: Below average; 1: Consistently subpar
Click to see: NetResults chart

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