Netgear’s Networked Storage Enclosure

I’ve been wanting to add some network storage to my home LAN for awhile and the price was finally right on Netgear’s SC101 Ethernet Disk enclosure. After using it for a couple weeks, I can say this is a very low-end solution that works (at least for Windows PCs) and is appropriate for some, but not all, home-based networked storage solutions.

The enclosure itself is tiny and looks like someone miniaturized a toaster. It is also fanless, relying on heat sinks mounted on the top and bottom of the unit to keep it cool.

The enclosure has room for two hard drives. Installation was a breeze — simply pop off the front cover with a coin, slide the hard drive in and connect the ends of the parallel cable and power supply to the hard drive. I installed a Maxtor 7200 RPM 250gb hard drive. So far I haven’t noticed any problems with heat, but that could change once I install a second one. Forum postings at Netgear’s site suggest that 5200 RPM drives might be a better bet for keeping the device cool thing cool.

Installing the device brings up the first problem. This is not a true NAS device, but rather requires any computers that want to use it to install a special driver. Moreover, the device ships only with drivers for Windows machines. Supposedly a Mac driver is on its way, and there’s no option as far as I can tell for accessing this from a Linux box.

The use of the special driver also means that the device cannot be accessed directly by devices that like the Slim Squeezebox MP3 player.

Along with those problems, this device is extremely slow. In most reviews I could find online, the Netgear SC101 comes in as the slowest of the home-based NAS setups. I copied 160gb of MP3s I had on various hard drives over to the SC101 and it took almost 15-18 hours.

On the other hand, it works great for what I wanted — a networked box I could stick all my MP3s so that all the computers in the house can access them. I installed the drivers on several PCs, and all of them worked great simultaneously playing different songs off the device. I’m probably going to add a second device and add all my digital photographs there so those can be accessed across the network as well (currently they’re all stuck on a USB HD connected to my PC).

For those sort of uses, the SC101 is a cheap, adequate solution for making data available across a home network. For anything beyond that, the device is simply far too slow. I had hoped, for example, to use the device to host some of the work files that I want to access from a number of computers, but it is far too slow for that.

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