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Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 - 4TB of Tasty Goodness

Once it’s configured, you don’t need to be on the same subnet as the box to get access to it

Lori and I have a larger home network, with several servers, multiple switches, two WAPs, and eight or so clients. Thrown into the middle of all of that is an aging Infrant Technologies (now NetGear) ReadyNAS, 1 Terabyte. The ReadyNAS, from before NetGear purchased Infrant, has had a bad cable for about two years, but has been working just fine otherwise. Of course a bad cable implies one of the drives was down (it was), and that makes RAID kind of redundant. About a week ago the ReadyNAS took itself off-line. We have a lot of data out there that is irreplaceable, so Lori got a bit agitated while I coerced the box back into a normal (for it) state.

And then I went out and purchased a new NAS. I’d been looking at the Seagate BlackArmor NAS for a while, liked everything I saw about it, so decided to pick one up. We received the BlackArmor 440 with 4 TB of disk for $1220 including shipping a couple of days ago.

That’s an astounding price. Think about it, very few people who are only storing legal data need 4 Terabytes of storage. Even RAID 5 enabled (the default for this box) it still offers up 2.6 TB of storage space. You’re talking $0.47 per usable Gig, and it comes ready to rock and roll.

And it’s simple. If your Mom needs a NAS to back up her pictures and such to or your SMB-owning friend needs to store critical data and backups, this is the box for you. Plug it into the network (as with most products in this price-range, on the same subnet as the computer you’re starting it from), install their software, and tell the software to go find it. It does, lets you configure a ton of settings, or optionally nothing. Seriously. It’s got two default shares in one volume defined on it, the volume is RAID-5 enabled, and access control is turned off by default, so you can just set it up, tell it to DHCP (though that still scares me for a NAS), give it a name, and go.

Once it’s configured, you don’t need to be on the same subnet as the box to get access to it of course, that’s just the “need to communicate” start-up issue that most appliances have and either answer with a console or the same subnet to avoid routing issues.

The box comes with desktop backup software that we haven’t tried yet, and integration with workgroup/user settings from windows, and a ton more. Want your data encrypted? It’ll do it. And there’s a USB connector if you need to share more data (though I would only use it to back up the NAS – the NAS is RAIDED, not many USB-connected storage devices are that I’ve seen!)

Our ReadyNAS had about 3/4 of a Terabyte of data on it. Running through Linux we were able to copy that off to the BlackArmor in a pretty quick fashion over our network – which is some 10Meg, lots of 100Meg, and some Gig.

But now I face a quandary. Now we have two NAS boxes, one primary, one secondary. I wonder if there are any tools out there to help me manage them… Like you know, from our Data Solutions Group? Think they’re reading this? Think they have an ARX laying around I can snag? Sure would help with testing and writing for you to have one here on-site (yeah, I’m laying it on thick)…

The best thing you can say about the BlackArmor? That there’s not much to say. I don’t like my NAS to require a team of guys and two weeks to configure – our infrastructure is a single BIG-IP, several servers and a dozen or so workstations on two core switches. We’re not talking large enterprise here, and I don’t want to spend the time a large enterprise is willing to. I didn’t, and didn’t have to.

And for 1200 bucks, that says a lot.

I’d rate it as a five out of five for its target market, 4.5 out of five for workgroups or larger SMBs, still way up there on the scale. Of course over the next three to six months we’ll see if there are any constant-use oddities in it, but I think that’s unlikely. Seagate knows storage, so we’ll work on the assumption that this puppy is tested out and ready to rock. If not, you’ll be hearing from me. In this case though, no news is good news. I won’t post back just to say it’s performing as expected.

I am behind on other writing – like iSessions iControl APIs, but wanted to offer you my impressions of this box. Hopefully some of you will find it useful.

Now, off to watch for the FedEx guy to bring me that ARX box… ;-)

Until next time,

Don.


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Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.