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Introduction

Update 01/19/2009: Premium features clarified

NETGEAR Stora

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR Stora (MS2110-100NAS)
Summary Consumer-oriented 2 bay NAS appliance
Pros • Easy to set up
• Media files playable through web browsers
• Automatic RAID 1 configuration upon second drive insertion
• Easy remote web access
• Quiet and low power consumption
Cons • Can't use second drive to expand storage
• No backup of internal storage
• Subscription required to expand beyond 3 user accounts
• Lacks media import application
• Browser-based media players don't play everything

Let’s face it.  When shopping for a NAS, some of us with more geekish tendencies want a product that has virtually every feature, bell and whistle available.  But for many consumers just looking for a place to share files and to back up treasured digital memories, the smorgasbord of features available on products like those offered by Synology, QNAP and others can be a bit overwhelming. 

NETGEAR felt this pain, too with its fully-featured ReadyNASes. Although they have a fairly understandable user interface, ReadyNASes' array of options is just too much for general consumers to deal with. So NETGEAR decided to take a simpler approach, turning to Axentra's HipServ 2.0 platform to create the Stora.

The Stora's target audience is similar to that of Cisco's Linksys Media Hub, which was introduced last year with considerable fanfare at CES. But with a current price of $350 -$400 for a single-drive 1 TB model, simplicity on the Cisco product carries a significant premium.  With street pricing of around $200, and significantly better read performance, the Stora could be a better choice.

Measuring 6.90 x 5.91 x 5.74 in, the Stora is housed in a simple black plastic case wrapped around a sheet metal chassis.  The front panel has a power LED that doubles as a status indicator, as well as individual LEDs for each drive.  A single USB 2.0 port, which can be used to attach additional storage or a USB printer, rounds out the front panel. 

The front panel slides open easily by just applying a little upward pressure on the bottom of the panel.  Figure 1 shows the Stora with the front panel removed to reveal the two drive bays.

Netgear Stora with front panel removed

Figure 1: NETGEAR Stora with front panel removed

Unlike most NASes , the Stora has a fan that’s mounted horizontally and circulates air from the top of the case through the bottom of the case.  The device is very quiet, so it would make a good companion either in an office or a living room. 

On the rear panel (Figure 2), you’ll find the single Gigabit Ethernet port, power connector, power switch, recessed reset button, and two latches to eject the hot-swappable SATA drives. LEDs on the Ethernet port indicate link speed and activity.  Since the Stora is intended for home use, the lack of a rear panel security slot shouldn’t be a problem.

Netgear Stora rear panel

Figure 2: NETGEAR Stora rear panel

On The Inside

The hardware platform (Figure 3) uses the 1 GHz version of Marvell's popular 88F6281 Kirkwood SoC, 128 MB of RAM, 256 MB of flash and a Marvell 88E1116-R for the 10/100/1000 Ethernet port (which doesn't support jumbo frames). Drives are formatted using the XFS filesystem.

NETGEAR Stora board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: NETGEAR Stora board

The Stora ships with a single low power Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB SATA drive.  When a second 1TB drive is installed, the Stora automatically configures itself for RAID 1 (mirroring) to provide you with fault tolerance.  

The device draws 11 W with a single drive and 18 W with two drives installed.  Although you can’t control drive spin down time, you can schedule daily on/off times as shown in Figure 4.

Stora power schedule options

Figure 4: Stora power schedule options

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