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Features - Parental Control

Under the Security settings you'll find Parental Controls. This is provided at no cost through NetSTAR's inCompass cloud-based service. After providing an email address to set up an account and clicking on an emailed verification link you'll see the page below when you click on the WD Internet parental controls policy management link on the Parental Controls page.

You get the same sets of Safe/Block and TimeBlock controls at the Master and Device levels. The former lets you block or approve (whitelist) URLs and the latter is where you apply web filtering levels by time of day. The Device list is gathered from the router's DHCP server client table. As I've found with other products, that list isn't always accurate. So you may have to manually add devices, release/renew the client DHCP lease at the client and/or reboot the router to get your device to show. Up to 15 devices are supported with 60 URL block/approves per device and 60 more at the Master level.

N900 Parental Controls

N900 Parental Controls

There are seven levels of filter including All and None, which are broadly described in a popup. You can't see exactly what is blocked. But you can add blocked domain to a whitelist. When you trigger a block, you are redirected to a block page (below) that allows you to enter a password to bypass the block on a one-time, timed (1 hr., 2 hr., 1 day) or permanent basis (the whitelist). Note that unblocking takes 10 seconds to execute.

Parental Control Block message

Parental Control Block message

One important thing to note is that, due to security concerns, the router only talks to the NetSTAR cloud once every 15 minutes. So you don't see changes instantly.

I did some gross checks and found that the filters do work at the URL level. But you could search for whatever you wanted and no filtering was applied for either text or images.

I've put more Parental Control and other screens in the gallery with additional details.

File Sharing

The two USB 2.0 ports support storage and printer sharing. Any client that supports SMB/CIFS (SAMBA) networking will be able to access the N900's shared drive. But only Windows systems will be able to access printer sharing since you need to install WD Print Share software.

Storage menu

Storage menu

The checkboxes above show USB drive content can also be made available to DLNA and iTunes players as well as FTP. I had no problem accessing the drive from Win 7 computers and it showed up as a DLNA device in Windows Media Player. Note that you can access the N900's share from MacOS systems, too. But you can't use its storage for Time Machine backups.

You get only one public account and one password protected account. You can't add any others. You also can't initiate a DLNA content index.

I ran our standard Windows filecopy NAS test to an attached Iomega UltraMax Pro with its two drives configured in RAID 0. Table 3 below shows the N900's results along with the DIR-857's and fastest-to-date Cisco Linksys E4200v2 / E4500.

Format MyNet N900 E4200V2 /
EA4500
DIR-857
(USB 3.0)
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 12.9 9.8 13.9
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 21.72 21.6 30.9
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 20.78 20.1 7.7
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 21.34 22.2 16.1
Table 3: File copy throughput

Aside from FAT32 write, the N900's results are about as fast as you'll get from a USB 2.0 connected drive. The 857's 30.9 MB/s FAT32 read speed is due to its USB 3.0 port. I suspect that if the N900 also had USB 3.0 ports that it would be just as fast. While these results aren't what you'll get from even today's low-end NASes, they are equivalent to performance you'd find in single-bay Marvell-based NASes only a few years ago.

Routing Performance

Routing throughput was measured running 1.03.11 firmware, using our router test process. Table 4 summarizes and compares the N900 and D-Link DIR-857's routing throughput. Performance is essentially a wash, except for Simultaneous Connection handling. The 857 maxed out at our test limit, but the N900 stopped opening new connections at a 16K limit.

Test Description N900 DIR-857
WAN - LAN 708 707 Mbps
LAN - WAN 728 697 Mbps
Total Simultaneous 1106 1077 Mbps
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 16,384 34,925
Firmware Version 1.03.11 1.00
Table 4: Routing throughput

I usually disable QoS if it is enabled before running routing throughput tests to ensure that no artificial limits are in place. But when I did that for the N900, I got results in the 300 Mbps range, which didn't smell right, given the N900's CPU. So I enabled FasTrack Plus QoS and set the uplink speed to 9999999 Kbps and got the results above.

I asked WD about this and they explained that hardware acceleration is kicked in when FasTrack Plus is enabled, which accounts for the higher throughput. I see no downside to leaving FasTrack enabled, just make sure that it properly detects your ISP uplink speed or manually set it.

The IxChariot composite plot below is with FasTrack Plus enabled.

N900 routing throughput summary - FasTrack Plus Qos on

N900 routing throughput summary - FasTrack Plus Qos on

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