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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Promise SmartStor

At a Glance
Product Promise SmartStor (NS4300N)
Summary Inexpensive four-drive BYOD Network Storage Device
Pros • Hot-Swap RAID capabilities
• Gigabit Ethernet with jumbo frame support
• Inexpensive
• Windows, Apple and Linux support
Cons • Noisy
• Middle-of-the-road performance
• Flimsy case

See this article for a How To on quieting down the SmartStor.

Over the last few years, I've checked out Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices from a number of different manufacturers. I've tried devices from disk drive companies, consumer appliance manufacturers and network device builders. But in this review, I'm going to check out a NAS device from a company that is more normally known for their expertise in RAID controllers: Promise Technology.

Promise's SmartStor is a four-drive unit with gigabit Ethernet support, hot-swappable drives, USB expansion ports and some powerful RAID capabilities.

Setup

The SmartStor is a Bring Your Own Drive (BYOD) device, but Promise was kind enough to supply me with a unit pre-populated with four one-terabyte drives. Four terabytes of space in a device only a little larger than a toaster. Wow. Installing SATA drives into the SmartStor would be fairly straightforward, but the rails used for disk installation were the flimsiest I've ever seen. They were nothing more than a strip of plastic that wrapped around the drive to form the rail.

In general, the device used a lot more plastic than I usually see. The use of all this plastic made the device light, but it also made it a bit flimsy. The plastic front door on my unit wouldn't completely close because of a poor fit.

The front of the device, seen above, had a disk access door, four rows of drive-status LEDs, a power button and a one-touch backup button. The rear of the device, shown in Figure 1 from the SmartStor manual, had a couple of USB ports, a power connector, fan vent and a gigabit Ethernet connector.

Smartstor Back Panel

Figure 1: SmartStor Back Panel

When I plugged in the device, I judged the fan noise to be fairly high. I wouldn't want to use the device in a room that didn't already have noisy computer components. Measuring the power-draw of the unit showed that it pulled around 60 W. Although support for Linux and Apple computers is advertised, the only configuration software provided (Figure 2) was for Windows systems, so I started out with my XP instance.

Windows installation software

Figure 2: Windows installation software

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