BlackArmor NAS: A polished storage server with an open source heart

Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 stands apart with smooth setup, a nice set of features, and potential for growth

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Kudos to the Seagate team for including both Windows and Mac setup tools -- Mac users are typically left out in the cold. Installation is literally as easy as plugging the unit into the network and letting it get a DHCP address. Seagate's Discovery tool will search your local network (same subnet only) and display all the BlackArmor servers it can find. Check the box next to your server, and Discovery will display all the shares, with private shares popping up a standard user authentication window. Just click the Manage button to open a Web browser to the administrator interface.

The Web GUI can be forced over HTTPS by uploading an X.509 PEM-formatted SSL certificate or clicking the Generate New SSL Key button to self-sign. Another feature that moves BlackArmor out of the SOHO realm and firmly into the SMB market is how the dual LAN connections can be aggregated into either a round-robin load sharing or a fail-over configuration. Seagate claims this unit can handle upward of 20 simultaneous users, and I just bet it's through the load sharing that this tiny unit is able to handle the workload.

Another indication that Seagate is listening to users is the ability to change the Web access and FTP port numbers -- handy if you're already running something on the normal firewall port. One of my favorite features is the download manager, which allows you to schedule Web or FTP downloads from either anonymous or authenticated sites. The download manager also lets you throttle the queued tasks so as not to overwhelm your normal operations. It's a good way to keep a local cache of drivers always updated while not sucking up precious prime-time bandwidth.

Although NFS is supported, Seagate has not included NIS (Network Information Service) or Kerberos authentication. All NFS security is by allowed IP address, which might explain why NFS is turned off by default. Most SMB customers are using CIFS anyway, and configuring allowed IP addresses may be fine for the rest.

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