For long lasting and durable drives, Seagate has always been the Brand to head to. Even though they primarily focus on consumer products, Seagate hasn’t been a big player in networked storage - despite previous dabbling with networking.
This being so, the BlackArmor NAS 440 has been a bit step forward for them. The 440 is a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device which ranges in capacities from 2TB for £755 and 8TB for £815. However, to reach 8TB you will need to provide your own drive as Seagate only provide up to 6TB.
This NAS is aimed at higher-end home users and SMBs (small and medium sized businesses). So the market they are aiming at sure is cramped, however, with Seagate’s reputation I’m sure they won't have any issues.
Seagate provides a handful of features that rivals those of many competitors out there. This include 4 USB ports (3 on the back, and one of the front), dual Gigabit Ethernet connections, LCD display for showing drive stats, drive encryption and the need for no tools to remove the drives.
Although this is a pretty hefty feature list for the low price, many may want an external SATA connection for quick and easy access. The BlackArmor, in simple terms, is a heavy black box with a glossy face - it does feel pretty cheap.
The door swings open to give you access to four hot swappable SATA II drives that can be simply removed by pulling down on the orange tap and pulling out the drive.
One great feature that I really admire about the 440 is that you require no screws to dismount the drive from the bay. All you need to do is pull a lever and the drive will slip out.
On the bottom of the 440 you will find the power button and three LED indicators, one for system status and the other two for network activity. The LCD panel, although not required, is a nice addition. However, you can clearly see not much thought has gone into this.
For example, the vast majority of the time it will just show “Seagate BlackArmor”. In spite of that, when the buttons are pressed you are presented with basic information such as remaining space and temperature readings. With the display only capable of showing 2 lines, using the display would become cumbersome over time.
Typically bundled backup software isn’t very good, however, the included backup software from Acronis is one of the strengths of the BlackArmor. The software installs on a networked computer and then it is used to control all the backup functions.
When first using the application you may be hesitant on what option to choose, considering that the documentation Seagate provides is quite vague. Yet once you get your teeth sunk into all the options the user can setup custom backup schedules.
Performance for the BlackArmor was exceptionally good for its price, especially when you compare it to more expensive models.
For general use I was able to get an average of 21.5mb/s when transferring locally, however I did notice a slight drop in speed when many users were accessing the drive at the same time. Nonetheless, when scheduled backups are set in place, a slow speed will not be a problem - so for light use it is more than adequate.
The BlackArmor certainly does have its disadvantages - it could have been included with better documentation and Time Machine support, maybe better use of the LCD as well. However, for such a low price the features that it packs bring the score back up.
With the backup software being highly customisable, and I really love how easy everything is to swap over and change for your own parts. Ultimately, the BlackArmor provides a lot of features for its price. Scan sells the 4TB version (four 1TB hard disk drive) for £722.39.