Smartstor NS4600 Raid 5 Nas media Server

Smartstor NS4600 Raid 5 Nas media Server

The SmartStor NS4600 is a good value, fast and well-equipped RAID-capable NAS.

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RM990.00 tax incl.

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The SmartStor NS4600 is a network attached storage (NAS) device from Taiwanese manufacturer Promise.

Fitting a disk is straightforward. The four hard disk bays are hidden by a pop-open door. Disks are screwed into plastic carriers which then slide into the bays. The front door can be locked, and though it could be forced open easily, it’s sufficient to prevent potentially disastrous curiosity. The NS4600 doesn't make a lot of noise, so it won’t disturb the peace in a quiet room or office.

Configuring the NS4600 is also straightforward, although the network discovery utility could be better designed – with its cryptic, poorly labelled icons. It did work well enough to give us the IP address for the web management interface, though. Thankfully, this is generally better designed with options logically organised into a tree-like menu structure. Creating user accounts, organising them into groups and assigning them different access permissions to different shared folders is quick and easy. The interface for some of the more advanced options, such as the Dynamic DNS support and the MySQL server, could be more clearly labelled though.

We tested the NS4600 with four 2TB hard disks in RAID 0, 5 and 10 modes (RAID 1 is also available if you're using just two disks). Under RAID 0, 8TB of storage is available but if a disk fails you'll lose all your data. Under RAID 5, which needs a minimum of three disks, 6TB of storage is available but your data will still be safe if a disk fails. Under RAID 10, which requires four disks, only 4TB of storage is available but up to two disks can fail and your data will still be safe.

Although we've seen even faster NAS devices, the NS4600 was still quick in almost all our tests. Under RAID 0 large files were transferred at an overall speed of 31.6MB/s while small files were copied at an average speed of 18.5MB/s. RAID 5 is usually a bit slower than RAID 0 which was borne out in our tests. Here, large files were copied at an overall speed of 27.6MB/s while small files were transferred at an average speed of 12.1MB/s. Although RAID 10 provides the least storage space, it's a bit quicker than other RAID levels at transferring files. Large files were copied at an overall speed of 35.4MB/s while small files were transferred at an average speed of 19.1MB/s

The NS4600 has plenty of useful features. We had no trouble sharing a USB printer across our network, using it as an iTunes music server, or streaming video to a network media player. The NS4600 can also be used to download files over BitTorrent or from a website without the aid of a computer. Unfortunately, the download interface can only be accessed from the main management interface so if other users are given access they could alter more sensitive settings too. The power saving options could also be more sophisticated – the NS4600 can be set to turn off at specific times of day but you can't have different times for different days of the week.

The contents of attached USB and eSATA disks can be shared across your network. Pressing the front-mounted button automatically backs up the contents of such disks into a shared folder. If you're especially concerned about data redundancy, you can back up the contents of the NAS onto an external disk or even another NAS.

If you want a fast, RAID-capable NAS with plenty of drive bays at a low price then the SmartStor NS4600 is a good-value choice. Its management interface and some of its extra features aren't as refined as those on Synology or QNap NAS devices, but if you can live with these rough edges then the NS4600 is still a good choice.

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