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New NAS falls short

Jan 12, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsSmall and Medium Business

Linksys EFG120 only a partial upgrade from last year’s version

Editor’s Note: This year, Small Business Tech product reviews will include the same Net Results and Scorecard information as other Network World product reviews.

Network-attached storage devices are multiplying. Two new devices appeared over the holidays, an update from Linksys and the first NAS from external and portable storage vendor Kanguru Solutions. This week, we test Linksys’ Etherfast Network Attached Storage (EFG120).

Last January, we reviewed the Linksys EFG80. The built-in print server and removable hard disk trays put it toward the top of the NAS spectrum. The included 80G-byte hard disk was housed in one removable tray and an empty second tray allowed for the addition of a second disk to increase capacity.

The new EFG120 (about $850) provides 120G bytes of storage and has a more business-like design. Where last year’s model used the shoebox form factor in Linksys classic blue, this year’s uses a small tower format (12 inches high, 9 inches deep and 4 inches wide). The new look saves desk space and is sure to appeal more to corporate IT folks. 

The two drive trays remain, and you can add a 250G-byte disk drive for a total of 370G bytes of storage. You can also replace the original 120G-byte disk drive with a 250G-byte one for 500G bytes. The operating system is embedded on the motherboard rather than the hard disks, so you don’t lose the OS when you upgrade the first drive. Also, putting the OS in silicon on the motherboard speeds booting.

Linksys EFG120


Company: Linksys Cost: about $850 Pros: More capacity and expansion options. Tower design requires less desk space. Disk utilities includes defragmentation. Cons: No upgrade to print server. Business-like design lacks business-like administration.
Manageability 25%  3
Features 25%  4
Reporting tools 15%  3
Documentation 20%  3
Ease of setup 15%  4


Scoring Key: 5: Exceptional; 4: Very good; 3: Average; 2: Below average; 1: Consistently subpar

Keeping the print server was a good idea, but Linksys neglected to upgrade the printer controls or make any noticeable improvements. Status is limited to “offline” and “out of paper”, and controls to “delete one job” or “delete all jobs.” We would have liked to see and control individual print jobs, so we could delete one job or move up a  job to the start of the queue for quicker output. Since user names are tracked for login and security, Linksys could easily add the ability for administrators to place some VIP users at the head of the print job queue automatically. 

Linksys includes disk utilities that let you format, scandisk and even defrag hard disks with one mouse click. Organizing a busy disk, especially one in which files are constantly being added and deleted, can noticeably boost performance — a nice touch you won’t see in some other boxes. 

All in all, the Linksys EFG120 is a 50% upgrade in capacity but only a 25% upgrade in features. What would make this a 50% or 100% upgrade? Better print server controls and client backup software. Other vendors, such as Snap Appliance, throw in backup software, and Linksys could as well. And if Linksys wants this unit to appeal to business users, it needs to add some way to automatically read and import user names and passwords from existing network directory services. Such a feature would win the company many fans in small business (with one or two servers already) and corporate departments. 

Next week we test the Kangaru Solutions iNAS-100.