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The web-based configuration page for file serving provides a fairly complete list of capabilities. Menus are provided for creating and managing users, groups, shares, etc.

User setup screen

Figure 3: User setup screen
(click image for larger view)

For the most part, the configuration and menus were straightforward. But I did experience a problem where I could not successfully use the menus to create a new share under the default browser for Mac OS X - Safari. When I switched to the Firefox browser on my XP system, the new share was created without issue. Another annoying problem I had using Safari was with web-page authentication.

The DS-101 has a nice feature that "times out" the logged-in administration user so that if you walk away from your computer you won't stay logged in indefinitely. Unfortunately, I would occasionally get into a state where I was in an endless loop. A pop-up would notify me that I was logged out, I would select "OK" and I would be redirected to the login page where I would again get the pop-up. I selected "OK" again and the process would repeat until I was able to sneak in a click on the browser's stop button.

In addition to the file serving capabilities provided by the box, an FTP server is available. When the FTP server is enabled, the users you create in the the User Setup screen can log in and transfer files using the FTP protocol.

An interesting feature on the box is a "USB Copy" button on the front panel. The basic idea is that you plug a USB flash stick or thumb drive into the front panel USB port, and then press the button. The data on the USB disk is then automatically copied to your hard drive, and a file share is created for it so the data can be seen across your LAN. Every time you do this operation, a new directory is created with a name based on the current date to keep everything in order.

A capability I appreciated was email notification. These boxes tend to be configure-and-forget type devices, but email notification of problems will alert you to problems such as a failed disk copy or a failed backup.To test it out, I disconnected a flash disk in the middle of a "USB Copy" operation. A few minutes later, I was pleased to receive an error message in my Inbox. The only other email notification I got during the time of this review was triggered upon completion of a successful USB copy operation, but I assume other errors and events would trigger messages as well.

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