- Relatively quiet
- Supports disk mirroring
- Efficient backup software
- HDDs aren't hot-swappable
- Managing IP addresses can be a pain
- Single Ethernet port
Netgear's SC101T Storage Central Turbo is a network-attached storage (NAS) device for individuals and small offices. Using up to two 3.2in. SATA drives, you can share all of your data at excellent read and write speeds thanks to Gigabit Ethernet support. There's no built-in wireless connectivity, but the ability to store and use your data (files, photos, music, videos and so on) as easily as when you're using one of your PC's hard drives is a real boon. You can share your data on a LAN or choose to hide it from other users. You can also automatically save your data thanks to the mirroring function.
The next generation of Netgear's desktop NAS product line is pitched as being the industry's most versatile. Although this isn't quite accurate (more feature-rich units can be found on the market), the SC101T is certainly affordable. Incorporating the powerful Z-SAN Storage-over-IP (SoIP) technology from Zetera (now owned by Netgear), this robust and relatively attractive solution should suit all but the most demanding environments.
The SC101T is ideal for individuals and small businesses looking to centralise, share and backup digital files from networked computers at Gigabit Ethernet speeds. Its capacity isn't large enough (2TB maximum) for bigger offices, nor are its administration features robust enough for managing sensitive business data, but the SC101T does have some compelling features. Most notably, it's relatively unobtrusive and quiet, and accessing the SATA drives is quick and easy. Unfortunately the unit is not hot-swappable, so you have to power it down before swapping drives. You can, however, add more Storage Central Turbo units to your network as your storage needs grow.
The Storage Central Turbo can be customised to suit your needs. Sold as a bare unit, you can scale it by adding either one or two 3.5in. SATA disk drives of any capacity. So, if you don't need disk mirroring, you can run it off just one drive, helping to keep costs down. As your needs grow or you need to secure your data, you can easily add a second drive and duplicate your files. Relatively advanced backup and synchronisation software from SmartSync protects data automatically by making real-time copies of data on two separate hard drives. New data disk volumes can be configured as public or private and password-protected, ensuring maximum security for sensitive files.
It's not all good news with the SC101T though. Although physically setting up the device is easy — you simplyattach one or two SATA drives, connect the unit to a router or switch (one Ethernet cable is supplied), and then provide it with power (an external power brick is provided) — the device doesn't assign an IP address itself, so you'll have to rely on your broadband router or other DHCP-enabled device to do this for you. Also, hard drives are formatted using Zetera's proprietary Z-FS file system so you can't remove a drive and place it in your PC. The Smart Wizard utility offers configuration options, such as disk mirroring (if required) and password-protect share folders. Once configured, the SC101T functions just like a local disk drive: it's accessible from any network computer, but doesn't require a dedicated PC.
A second utility, Storage Central Manager, allows you to select the hard disks and create logical partitions, otherwise known as 'IP partitions'. IP addresses are given to each partition, making it appear to the network as a new hard disk. Each partition is then assigned a unique LBA (logical block address) range. The SC101T then watches network traffic and picks up any packets with a destination IP address that matches a partition. Each packet contains the data payload along with an LBA range, which tells it where that payload should be placed in that partition.
Building on the company's original SC101 Storage Central product, Netgear's Storage Central Turbo enhances the networked storage experience through gigabit speeds, support for faster SATA disk drives, greater flexibility and secure mirrored data protection. Managing the device can be a little tricky though, and you'll definitely benefit from networking experience. However, it's good value and does the job at hand competently — as long as you don't need comprehensive NAS features.