Seagate Business Storage 2-Bay NAS review

Pros

  • Easy setup and HDD installation
  • Sharp, user-friendly interface
  • Anywhere, anytime remote access
  • Good drive recovery

Cons

  • Performance lags behind some rivals
  • Poor online documentation

The Business Storage 2-Bay NAS represents the lowest-tiered model in Seagate's business-centric line-up. The two-bay model is suited for the smallest end of the SMB, say, a small organisation or solo-run business. With two bays, an organisation is limited to only disk mirroring as far as fault tolerance goes, which may not suit those with more urgent data needs (Seagate does offer a 4-bay and 8-bay rackmount model).

The device performed well in testing and has some good business capabilities such as support for adding SSL certificates and joining Windows domains. There are competing two-bay NASes with speedier Read/Write performance, though, and this Seagate unit lacks some of the extra features in other NASes in its class.

Specs

Seagate Business Storage is a two-bay NAS that can support 4, 6, or 8TB of total storage on SATA drives – the price being £235, £337 and £437 (the model we reviewed here) respectively (or you can buy the unit itself with no storage for £140). Internal components include a CNS3420 Dual Core 700MHz CPU and 512MB of DRAM.

The front of the NAS has a tray door that opens to the two drives trays. The drive trays are easy to pop out of the chassis, making HDD installation simple. There is also a USM – Universal Storage Model – slot on the front of the box, in which you can insert a Seagate Backup Plus portable drive. With this drive added, you can set up one-touch copy jobs to copy data from the NAS to the portable drive. This copy process allows for backup or lets you take data from the NAS with you – a good thing, because I found Seagate's provided remote access capabilities lacking. More on that later.

The one-touch copy button is on the front of the chassis, as are three LEDs to indicate power, system health, and disk activity. There are two USB 3.0 ports for connecting external storage (one-touch copying can also be set up for USB drives attached to the NAS).

The rear panel has dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. These ports can be aggregated within the NAS interface to configure network connection load balancing or connection fail over. The NAS can be configured with RAID 0, RAID 1, or JBOD. Windows XP and later are supported, as is Mac OS X 10.5.8 and later, so you can incorporate this device to work with Time Machine. For those concerned with security, the NAS uses SSL/TLS-grade encryption.

Setup

Setting up the Seagate Business NAS is simple. The device ships with a disc that includes the Seagate NAS Discovery app for locating your NAS once it's connected to your network, and the BlackArmor 2011 Backup Software. Either app is optional to install, but you are going to want to at least install the NAS Discovery app for initial setup.

Setup simply involves installing the Discovery app, having it find the NAS on the network, and then clicking a Launch NAS Manager button within the Discovery app to get into the interface to configure the NAS. The hardest part of the setup is installing the drives, and the sturdy drive bays make that an easy task.

The interface is sharp looking and well-designed. It opens to a Home Page which includes a Getting Started wizard that walks you through initial housekeeping tasks such as adding users, creating folder shares, setting up backup, and more. An impressive and detailed Dashboard is accessible from the Home Page. It provides a plethora of at-a-glance information including drive health, system status, disk space, help information, and a list of getting started tasks. The only capability that would make the dashboard better would be if it was customisable – allowing you to add and remove the information you want from the menu of settings and views on the left side of the screen.

Business capabilities

There are several features that business users typically want in a NAS. One is the ability to add an SSL certificate. Another is support for iSCSI targeting to add the NAS into a SAN solution. The Seagate NAS can also integrate with a UPS solution via its UPS Manager. SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) will test and provide an assessment of hard drives. Wake on LAN, scheduling power on and off, and energy efficiency settings are all configurable.

Of course, your garden-variety NAS capabilities are included such as DDNS, print server, media server, FTP, setting disk quotas, and restricting large file downloads. The feature set is plentiful, but if you are looking for extra goodies such as Network Video Surveillance (NVR) capabilities you will want to look to Iomega's NASes – or if you want integrated Wi-Fi, you’ll need a solution such as Synology's DS213air.

I have to complain about some of the documentation with regard to the device’s specs. One link to the specs on Seagate's site showed that the two-bay Business NAS had hot-swappable drive bays, and then further down the same document is a note that only the four-bay model supports hot-swap.

I decided to pull a drive with the NAS running anyway. I was pleased to see the drive pull was reflected immediately in the dashboard. The drive status showed that drive 1 was no longer installed. I popped the drive back in and the volume manager showed that the mirror was "recovering." That's a good sign that the Business NAS can perform recovery in the event of drive failure.

Remote Access

Seagate provides Remote Access via its Seagate Global Access service which is powered by cloud sharing access provider, TappIn.

You have to sign up for Global Access with an account that is used to activate the NAS on the service. Every user needing remote access also has to have Global Access account. This is done by associating an email account and password for the NAS user which that person will use to log into the remote service.

Each email account is sent an activation link to their specified email address. This is all done within the NAS interface. After activation, the interface instructions provide links to download the iOS or Android app (you are redirected to each respective app store). From this screen, you can also download the required TappIn agent for Windows or Mac. This has to be installed on any computer from which you want to remotely connect to the NAS.

Additionally, each user must have a shared folder from which they can remotely access their data. It's a good service and one of the better ones I've tested for remotely accessing data from a NAS.

Performance

The Seagate NAS has good Read/Write performance that's on par with other NASes with the same processor and RAM. I performed a simple file copy between the NAS and laptop, both connected to the same Gigabit switch. The Seagate clocked a Write speed of 31.25 MBps and a Read speed of 52 MBps. This is good performance, but I've seen better from similarly spec'ed NASes.

Synology's DS213air managed 45 MBps in Writes and 53 MBps in Reads, and the Iomega StorCenter px2-300d is among the speediest two bay NASes I've tested managing 75 MBps in Writes and 68 MBps in Reads.

Verdict

While its performance is still good, the Seagate Business NAS isn’t as fast as a few other two-bay NASes I've tested, most recently from Iomega and Synology. Seagate's business NAS has a friendly, inviting interface, and although it doesn't offer extra features and capabilities as mentioned such as NVR or Wi-Fi – and you are limited to mirroring for fault tolerance because it's only two disks – the feature set is what you need to have in a NAS tailored to a small business.

This Seagate effort is fairly inexpensive compared to some competitors' NASes, too. On the whole, it’s a solid device that’s a good choice for smaller businesses with lighter NAS needs. And if you regularly use Seagate portable drives, the USM capability is certainly a handy addition.

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