Article Index

Verdict

Seagate's business storage NAS line-up are solid units with feature sets equally suitable for pro-sumer or small business use yet are let down by an aged hardware and software platform.

The system architecture contains many bottlenecks that restrict performance of the various drives that can be used by the Business NAS

In our testing, the throughput using the built in backup feature to copy the contents of our 1TB external Seagate Drive to the NAS disk array was unacceptable and beaten by even old PCs.

Seagate even acknowledge the issue and provide instructions "for achieving the best performance in data transfer between a share on the Seagate Business NAS and a drive inserted in the USM slot"

Seagate Knowledgebase

Although performance is constrained by hardware bottlenecks, The Seagate Business NAS 4-bay does deliver on its 'make sure you backup on and off-site' by including USB 3.0 and a External SATA Drive Dock in hardware as well as allowing NAS To NAS, USB and USM transfers

Other brands do not fully consider the off-site backup scenario, few include a eSATA port.

To remedy performance, Seagate has released a faster Intel powered model in 2014 but this already uses the now discontinued Intel Atom processor rather than the current Intel low power processors based on the new Silvermont Architecture.

ixSystems, vendor of the popular open source FreeNAS operating system are shipping NAS boxes with a 8-core 2.4GHz Intel Avoton processor based on Silvermont. at ~$US1900 for the 4-bay from their Amazon store.

A diskless Promise NS4600 4-bay NAS using an Intel chipset incorporating a now ancient but still fast Pentium-M CPU can be found as low as $210, and a diskless Netgear 104 4-bay NAS including a front eSATA port can be found for under $300.

As the pricing is not competitive with other brands and a very old non Windows 8 compatible software is bundled we cannot recommend this product for purchase unless these shortcomings are not a problem for your usage.

A price cut to bring both models inline with competition plus a firmware update as well as a backup software update will fix

Pros

  • Brand name with wide channel and retail availability plus good warranty/technical support
  • Status LCD and front controls
  • USB 3.0 that works, based on a popular and proven chipset.
  • USM dock (Seagate's implementation of a powered eSATA dock as defined by the SATA International Organisation)
  • Reasonably compact
  • Available disk-less with no apparent vendor lockout for competitor drives
  • Dual GbE LAN
  • Acronis chosen as the bundled Backup software
  • Uses Standard Laptop external Power Supply
  • Ships with multiple power plugs in the box for the external PSU

Cons

  • Based on previous model meaning much of the hardware and firmware is carry-over and aged
  • Main Processor old and outdated, admin pages lag and write speeds suffer
  • LCD is hard to read unless dead-straight on due to being inset. The black armour predecessor this unit is based on had an angled display
  • Acronis Backup software oudated and incompatible with GPT partitions and Windows 8
  • Questionable cooling and noticeable vibration
  • Front push buttons for status menu fiddly. A D-pad or menu selectors might have been superior as on many printers
  • Dual Network Port setup undocumented
  • Proprietary HDD cradles. Newer NAS from vendors such as WD EX4 do not use cradles
  • No standard SATA dock/eSATA for users who do not own a Seagate external drive with USM feature
  • Not the most cost effective choice on the market compared to other brands.
  • Bring Your Own Drives is up to $600 cheaper, other brands such as Netgear or HP offer better value.

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