Last month we reviewed Western Digital’s MyBook World Edition, a small, white, single-drive, one-terabyte NAS box aimed solidly at Joe User. This month, we have the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440, the MyBook’s polar opposite in many ways. It’s big, it’s black, it’s user-serviceable, comes with four Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB drives, and is marketed toward small businesses without a dedicated IT staff.
The BlackArmor 440 is a brick, the front of which has a two-line green LCD status screen, a front door that opens to reveal the four hot-swappable screwless drive bays, one of the box’s four USB 2.0 host ports, and a power button. The back holds the 12cm exhaust fan, the power jack (for the external power brick), two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the other three USB 2.0 ports.
The LCD display offers system status information and a few buttons to navigate with, but the real power comes from the BlackArmor’s web interface, which is easily accessible from the BlackArmor Discovery software included with the NAS. The Discovery software also provides easy mapping of shared folders—the defaults are Public and Downloads.
The BlackArmor 440 is probably more NAS than a home network needs.
Via the web interface, admins can configure users’ quotas and permissions (including who can access the devices on each USB port); set up email alerts; set up, manage, and monitor the SMART status of drives and volumes; and turn on iTunes and media sharing and global access. Other options include FTP, HTTPS access (using your own SSL certificates or ones generated by the NAS), CIFS, NFS, Bonjour, and more.
One interesting feature is the ability to create multiple RAID arrays on the same drives. It’s a neat trick, but most users should stick with the single RAID 5 volume the 440 comes with.
One of the BlackArmor’s most useful inclusions is the BlackArmor Backup service, a custom app by Acronis. The 440 includes 10 full-version licenses, and more can be acquired from Seagate. For small-office users, that’s a lot of value.
In its default RAID 5 configuration, using one Gigabit Ethernet port, the 440 transfers files quickly. Copying a 2.79GB file from the NAS to a PC on the local network took two minutes and 38 seconds, while writing that file to the NAS took just over a minute. Connecting the other Ethernet port increases transfer speeds, but that port can also be used to make NAS-to-NAS backups or server backups.
After a week of testing, one of the 1.5TB drives in our review unit failed, so we got an opportunity to see the 440’s recovery process in action. The LCD screen and the web management panel both displayed alerts, and the RAID 5 was still functional, though degraded.
To rebuild the array, all we did was eject and replace the faulty drive. From there, it was a matter of three or four mouse clicks before the RAID 5 array was recovering itself in the background. Rebuilding a 4.5TB array takes a long time, so we were pleased that we could still use the volume normally during the process.
The Seagate BlackArmor 440 is a powerful NAS with a huge array of business-oriented features. In fact, it’s almost certainly overkill for home users, unless you have a large home network. After all, it’s eight times the price of the consumer-friendly MyBook World 1TB. But with its enormous capacity and wealth of features, it would make a very useful addition to a small office network.
Seagate BlackAmor NAS 440
Fast, beefy; powerful web interface; includes 10 backup licenses.
May be overkill for home users; pricey.
WD MyBook 1TB
Seagate BlackArmor 440
6TB (4.5TB in RAID 5)
PC to NAS, small (min:sec)
PC to NAS, large (min:sec)
NAS to PC, small (min:sec)
NAS to PC, large (min:sec)
Best scores are bolded. We used the contents of Maximum PC’s November 2007 CD for the small-file testing, and a single 2.79GB file for the large-file testing. All scores are averages of three transfer trials.