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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Maxtor Central Axis

At a Glance
Product Maxtor Central Axis (STM310005CAA00G-RK)
Summary Single drive 1TB NAS with Gigabit Ethernet port, DLNA server and remote web access
Pros • Good Value
• 5 year limited warranty
• Remote web-based access easy to set up and worked well
• Built-in DLNA multimedia server, iTunes
• USB support for external storage
Cons • Unhelpful logs

If the thought of adding a NAS to your network intimidates you, Maxtor has a simple solution that will have you up and running in about 5 minutes. At first glance, the Maxtor Central Axis (CA) looks very similar to Maxtor's One Touch 4 products. 

The front panel of this black pyramid-shaped device has white LEDs to indicate power, disk activity and status.   The Central Axis contains a single 1 TB 7200RPM drive, so if you're looking for the fault tolerance that a multiple drive NAS offers, this is not the product for you. 

Still, the Central Axis has a number of features including a DLNA-compliant media server, an iTunes server, remote browser-based access to files, and file backup software that could make it the ideal addition to your network.

The rear panel has a power switch, a USB port for connecting either a USB hard drive or printer, a Kensington-compatible security slot and a gigabit Ethernet port that supports 4K or 8K jumbo frames. On the bottom of the device, should you need it, there's a recessed reset switch.

Central Axis rear view

Figure 1: Central Axis rear view

Internal Info

The files on the CD that came with the CA indicated that it is running a modified version of FreeNAS, which Maxtor confirmed. This means that a UFS filesystem is used. We couldn't get the case open, but Maxtor also told us that the CA uses a Marvell Orion 5182 Network Storage processor and has 64 MB of RAM. They didn't provide details on the Ethernet device used, but our guess is that it's a Marvell 88E8118.

Since this is a single-drive product, you would expect power consumption to be low and it is at 15W active and 13W when drives are spun down.

Setup

The basic setup of the Central Axis is quite simple.  Connect the "wall wart" power supply, connect it to your Ethernet network with the supplied cable and turn it on.  When the status light stops blinking, ~ 90 seconds on our evaluation unit, the Central Axis is online. 

Next, you install the Maxtor Manager software.  The quick start guide has directions for XP, Vista and Mac OSX (10.4.11 or later) installations.  Several of our test computers already had installations of Maxtor Manager used to manage Maxtor One Touch 4 hard drives, and we were pleased to see that the version included with the Central Axis supported both the features of the One Touch 4 Plus product as well as the Central Axis.

When you first launch the Maxtor Manger, it will search your network for a Central Axis NAS.  By default, the Central Axis is configured to acquire an IP address from your network via DHCP.  Figure 2 shows the Central Axis on our test network.

Maxtor Manager showing discovered Central Axis

Figure 2: Maxtor Manager showing discovered Central Axis

Across the top of the screen are tabs for the basic functions of the Maxtor Manager.  A click of the settings icon takes you to a menu page that will provide web access to the administrator's page. 

The first time you log into the Central Axis, you are alerted that there is no administrator's password set.  A three-step wizard takes you through naming the device, assigning it to a workgroup, enabling/disabling NTP and specifying a NTP time server, setting the time zone, enabling web access and setting the administrator's password.   Upon completing the wizard, you get a confirmation screen showing your settings (Figure 3).

Initial Setup Complete

Figure 3: Initial Setup Complete

The Maxtor Manager, in addition to discovering and providing access to the admin page of your Central Axis, also allows you to create and schedule a backup plan, enable/disable remote web-based file browsing and enable/disable the media server. 

The included backup software, however, is quite basic.  You can schedule either a simple or a custom backup to occur each day at the same specified time. You can also select file types to include/exclude.  However, it appears that you can only have one backup profile, so you couldn't, for example, back up My Documents at 8:00PM on Mondays, and Mail files daily. 

We were also a bit disappointed that the Maxtor Manager features available on the Central Axis were a subset of the features available for the direct attached One Touch 4 Plus drives.  For those products, you have the additional options of synchronizing files, encrypting files, or creating a disk image using a feature Maxtor calls "Safety Drill".  Image backups using Safety Drill, something we use in our testing lab, would have been nice to include for Central Axis – especially since there's a Terabyte of storage.

Before leaving the topic of basic setup, there are a couple of important points to note:

  • Web Administration is done via HTTP, not HTTPS.  There is no secure option for administering the Central Axis.
  • You can log in as admin multiple computers simultaneously.
  • There doesn't appear to be a time out on administrator logins
  • The system log is fairly useless.  It doesn't log much of anything.  Items not logged include system power up/down, administrator logins, creation/deletion of shares, remote access sessions, files uploaded/downloaded remotely, etc.
  • Though intended as a home/small office device, it's worth noting that the Central Axis can't join a domain, nor can you set user disk space quotas.
  • The web admin interface was tested with IE6, IE7 and Firefox 3.03 on a PC platform, as well as Firefox and Safari on a Mac.  No problems were observed.

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