Agressive pricing; large capacity; DLNA compatible; includes five licenses for client back-up software; quiet; low power consumption.
Slug slow; uses Western Digital drives exclusively; can't schedule back-ups; no eSATA port; doesn't support RAID 5 + Spare or RAID 6; no BitTorrent client.
Western Digital is marketing this capacious WD ShareSpace to the home and small-office crowd. Both audiences will appreciate the low price tag, but this box’s several shortcomings and slow speed will leave both audiences wanting.
The ShareSpace is housed in a generic-looking gray steel cube. Loosening two captive screws in back and removing the three-sided housing exposes the motherboard and four of Western Digital’s environmentally conscious 2TB Caviar Green drives. The four platters on each drive spins somewhere between 5,400 and 7,200 RPM (Western Digital declines to state the actual speed), and each drive has 32MB of cache. The array comes from the factory in a RAID 5 configuration. Although the hardware also supports span (JBOD), RAID 0, and RAID 1 modes, RAID level migration is not supported. The more fault-tolerant RAID 5 + Spare and RAID 6 arrays are not supported, nor can you configure the drives in multiple volumes or limit the number of drives used in any given configuration.
The drives are mounted on plastic rails that hold the drives tightly in place. It takes enough force to dislodge them that we at first thought the drives were secured by screws. The plastic bands we tugged on to remove the drives are too flimsy to support the force required to reinstall the drives, so we resorted to using our thumbs to push them back in. Hot swapping is not supported. Although these are off-the-shelf SATA drives, Western Digital’s documentation indicates the ShareSpace won’t operate with drives produced by any other manufacturer. A peek at the motherboard reveals a 500MHz Marvell 88F5281 system-on-a-chip, a Marvell 88SX7042 four-port SATA controller, and 128MB of DDR2 SDRAM soldered in.
Turning our attention back to the front panel, we find a power switch, LED indicators for power and drive status, and a USB 2.0 port. Pushing a button above the USB port will automatically copy the contents of the first partition of a USB storage device plugged into the front port (any subsequent partitions are ignored). You can also configure the system to back up the contents of the ShareSpace to a USB storage device attached to the front port. There are two more USB ports in the rear, along with a gigabit Ethernet port, a jack for the external power brick, and a very quiet 100mm fan; there is no provision for eSATA.
The ShareSpace’s feature list covers the basics, but omits a couple of important considerations. You can configure the software to send you email alerts for a broad range of events that are also recorded to the system log. Events include abnormal shutdown, fan failure, overheating, SMART messages for individual drives, RAID error messages, hard drive failure, and so on. Consumers will appreciate the inclusion of the iTunes server for music and the DLNA-certified TwonkyMedia media server for music, videos and photos. Western Digital’s Downloader tool enables you to schedule and queue multiple Internet downloads, throttle download speeds to reduce bandwidth consumption, and resume partial downloads. But this feature’s overall usefulness is hindered by the absence of an integrated BitTorrent client.
Western Digital includes a license to install its WD Anywhere Backup software on up to five client PCs, but you can’t schedule when those backups take place. The backup software can be configured to either work in the background or only when the client is otherwise idle, which is fine for the client, but the system doesn’t permit you to schedule the ShareSpace’s resources.
|Western Digital WD ShareSpace||Synology Diskstation DS409+ |
|PC to NAS, small (min:sec)||1:36||0:38|
|PC to NAS, large (min:sec)||4:44||1:31 |
|NAS to PC, small (min:sec)||0:47 ||0:16|
|NAS to PC, large (min:sec) ||1:57||0:39|