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Feature Tour

The menu system on the BlackArmor is quite straightforward to use. The main menu categories are arranged across the top of the screen with sub-menus displayed under the selected menu item on the left. To help you determine which top level menu item to select, a drop down menu appears as you hover over a menu entry at the top of the screen. You can navigate directly to a function by clicking on it from the drop down menu.

For each of the five main menu items, I’ll highlight several of the more important features.

System

This menu has the most entries, but fortunately, each screen has only a couple of options. You can configure the name of the device, time zone and NTP server. You have the option of selecting HTTP or secure HTTPS for web management and can either paste in an existing key, or auto generate an SSL key as shown in Figure 6.

This Advanced menu also includes a HDD standby feature – added in the latest firmware update. Your option is to enable or disable HDD Standby. You don’t have control of drive spin-down times, however.

SSL key generation

Figure 6: SSL key generation

The BlackArmor supports email notifications of “certain” events as the help screen says. Seagate has attempted to simplify email alert setup by having the BA use Seagate's own SMTP server. You only need to enter an email address (up to 5 supported). On the downside, however, you really have no control, or idea, for that matter, which events will generate a notification. Major events, such as a drive failure or system power down, I learned, do generate email notifications. This is one of the many areas where the BA doesn't quite live up to its billing as a business-class NAS. another is the BA's complete lack of logging.

The System menu will also let you configure the BlackArmor for manual or automatic firmware updates. If you select Automatic, you can specify that the updates be applied at a specific time or be prompted to apply the updates. In addition, the system menu will let you manage an attached UPS, change the admin password, shutdown/reboot the device or access the S.M.A.R.T drive status menu.

The Backup Client license sub menu displays the status of your backup software licenses. The licenses are tied to the MAC address of the computer using the license, but there’s no way to reclaim a license for a system pulled out of service. BlackArmor comes with 10 licenses for Windows systems only, and, of course, you can buy more.

Network

Updated 4/23/2009: Fixed reference to link aggregation.

There really aren’t too many options available on the network menu. For each of the two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, you can choose DHCP (default) or assign a static address. The firmware we had included the option of aggregating the ports for better throughput, though the BlackArmor’s performance doesn’t come anywhere near fully utilizing the speed of a single Gigabit connection (more later).

In fact, just before posting this review, Seagate told us that the link aggregation feature is listed in the GUI, but is not functional and will be removed in a future firmware release. There were no settings for jumbo frames either, because the BA does not support them.

You can also set the workgroup name or join a Active Directory for use in larger networks (we didn't test this). If you have a printer attached to one of the USB ports, this menu lets you manage the print queue. The BlackArmor supports Dynamic DNS (DDNS), but only one DDNS provider, dyndns.org, is supported.

The most interesting Network sub menu is Services, shown in Figure 7.

Network > Services menu

Figure 7: Network > Services menu

This menu lets you change ports for HTTP and HTTPS web access. But if you change from the default ports (80 and 443 respectively), you must choose ports in the range of 8000 to 10000. Similarly, you can choose to enable FTP and as well as change the default FTP port to be in the same range as the web access ports. Seagate wisely chose to disable FTP and UPNP port forwarding as the default settings. Note the last item, an NFS enable.

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