Features - more
One interesting feature shown on this screen is support for NFS (Figure 6). NFS is a sharing protocol that is commonly found in most Unix systems and in the Macintosh.
Figure 6: NFS Support
The Mac can use the CIFS/SMB Windows file-sharing protocol that is used by default on the NetCenter, but NFS is more of a natural fit. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the NFS capabilities to work. When mounting a NFS share, the client must use the full path of the disk on the server, but I couldn't find this path documented anywhere and query to WD didn't reveal the answer either.
Besides this path, another thing I didn't see in this section (or anywhere else) was the ability to create individual users or set up space quotas for the users. These options are provided in many NAS devices, but evidently Western Digital is evidently marketing to the home-user who has more simple needs.
Moving on, the "Printer Sharing" menu shown in Figure 7 allows setup of a printer that can be shared across the network. Instructions are provided for accessing the shared printer under both Windows and Macintosh systems.
Figure 7: Printer Status
The "Drive Management" menu allows sophisticated control of the drives on the system. Figure 8 shows a SMART status screen where an internal drive is listed along with a both a USB key and an external USB drive I plugged into the USB ports. FAT32 formatted drives that are plugged in are automatically exported as network shares by default and this capability appeared to work well.
Figure 8: Disk Health Status
You can also plug in a NTFS formatted external drive, but it will be mounted in read-only mode. I'll note that my FAT32 USB hard-drive was divided into four partitions, and all four were properly mounted and exported. But along with this automatic behavior, the NetCenter has some additional capabilities.
If you're willing to format your external drive for use only on the NetCenter, it can be added to an existing share as contiguous space. In other words, if you plug in an external 500GB external drive to your 500GB NetCenter, you can make your network share look like a single 1TB partition. This is a fairly unique capability among the NAS devices I've tested, but I couldn't check this feature out, since I didn't have a spare, empty USB drive.
Complete client backup software is supplied for both Windows and Macintosh systems. The backup software appeared to be fairly full-featured with support for incremental backups, full backups, scheduled backups, etc.
My tour through the menus revealed the lack of a few features commonly found on similar NASes:
- Logging: Although handy for letting you know when the disk is getting full, or when errors are occurring, the NetCenter lacks both logging and emailed alerts
- Programmable Idle spindown or shutdown: I didn't find any way to shut down the drive after a programmable idle period. However, the NAS will enter a "sleep" mode after a fixed period of 10 minutes of inactivity
- Drive copy: There is no ability to copy from a plugged-in USB drive to the internal drive or vice-versa