Hands On - more
Protocol and service support is pretty decent as evidenced by the Services page below. It seems to be standard practice to include features like iTunes and UPnP/DLNA servers and download managers on business class NASes. I think this is more a byproduct of the trend toward one-OS-fits-all in current NAS design. Or maybe busy sysops need entertainment at the ready, too.
Backup fans will be happy to know that the SBS-R8 supports backup to and from attached drives, over the network to both standard rsync and other Seagate SBSes and even internally folder to folder. MacOS users get Time Machine support as their main backup option.
Seagate doesn't bundle any backup clients, but instead provides Windows and MacOS Wuala Desktop clients. These programs don't perform backup, but instead provide easy access to Wuala cloud storage by providing a mapped drive. The inclusion of Wuala is another indication of the Seagate OS' LaCie roots.
We have reviewed Wuala both as a standalone app and Craig gave it a good going-over in his 5big NAS Pro review. So I didn't poke at it this time. You get 5 GB of free Wuala cloud storage for each SBS-R8 user. You also get a three-month trial for Wuala Business, which bumps you to 100 GB of storage and adds other management features.
Wuala provides remote access via its folder sync feature that ensures that selected folders are available from the cloud, any web browser or via iOS and Android apps. Sync doesn't require setting up dynamic DNS or opening router ports and works through double NAT, too.
Files can also be remotely accessed via the admin interface's file browser. But since you'd need to set up some form of dynamic DNS to reliably remotely access your NAS anyway, you might as well use Seagate MyNAS. It's basically a Seagate DDNS that gives your SBS-R8 a home on the internet in the form of http://mynas.seagate.com/YOURNAMEHERE. Since the R8 supports HTTPS access, you can make this a secure connection. The downside is that MyNAS relies on your router supporting UPnP or you manually opening ports in your router firewall. And if you have double-NAT to deal with, this method won't work at all.
Setting up volumes is easy-peasy. Once created, each volume gets a page like the one shown below. The Manage button presents options available, which can include adding drives, volume repair and optimizing storage. As noted in the Feature rundown, you can create multiple volumes choosing from single drive, JBOD and RAID 0/1/5/6/10. You also get Seagate's form of automatic volume management, dubbed SimplyRAID and can designate a standby spare drive for RAID 5, 6 and 10 volumes.
SBS-R8 Volume manager
Volume creation time was in line with similar products, if not a bit faster, considering the 4 x 4 TB volumes created. RAID 0 and 10 volumes were ready within a few minutes. The initial SimplyRAID creation (the default) took around 13 1/2 hours and a RAID 5 volume took 12 hours, 45 minutes.
That's it for the feature highlights. The gallery below has screenshots and commentary for screens and features I haven't mentioned.
With the system operating normally and with email alerts set up, I popped drive 1 out. Within 5 seconds the beeper started up and the front panel Status LED started blinking red. Within a minute, I received two emails, the first telling me drive 1 was missing and the second letting me know that the volume was degraded. After another minute or so, I popped drive 1 back in.
When I logged into the admin interface, the Storage widget showed Degraded and an alert let me know that the buzzer was sounding and also let me clear it remotely (nice touch!). Clicking on the Storage widget took me to the Storage Overview where I found a resync already in progress. During all of this the volume kept on working, letting me copy, delete and access files normally.
Drive pull result
Interesting to note that I did not receive an email telling me that the NAS lid had been opened, nor did I receive one telling me that drive 1 had been reinserted and that volume rebuild had begun. Upon checking the Monitoring page and hovering over the Casing indicator (could you please make these larger for the color-challenged among us? ), I found it reported "Casing closed". So something ain't right there.