LaCie 2TB Ethernet Disk review
LaCie has always impressed with its well-designed NAS appliances, but its latest Ethernet Disk is something of a rarity as it uses Windows XP Embedded. This can be customised by vendors to suit the application and LaCie has cut it down to storage management and backup features only.
This in turn reduces hardware demands, and the appliance employs a simple 1GHz VIA processor backed up with a modest 256MB of DDR memory – 64MB of which is shared with the embedded graphics adapter. The review model has 2TB of storage provided by a pair of 1TB Hitachi SATA drives, but RAID is not an option. If one drive fails you lose everything, and the chassis can’t be opened without invalidating the warranty.
LaCie’s Network Assistant installs as a background task accessible from the System Tray, where it spots the Ethernet Disk as soon as it has loaded and provides a basic screen for selecting DHCP or a fixed IP address and accessing shares for mapping. Your next stop is the appliance’s web interface, which offers a quick start wizard for creating new public shares.
Tabs are provided for the remaining features, where you can plump for workgroup mode or AD authentication, create users and groups, add shares, define access restrictions and view hardware status. Client support is good as you have Windows, Linux, Unix and Mac users on the list, plus the appliance offers FTP services and supports Apple’s Time Machine backup feature.
Three modes of administration are supported as you can place a monitor, mouse and keyboard on the appliance or RDP to it. Either method gives access to local backup and restore tools, the Windows firewall, basic diagnostics and shutdown or restart options.
Backup choices are extensive, as from the web interface you can pick a volume and secure all its contents, or select folders to a USB storage device or backup the latter to the appliance’s storage. Use a local or RDP connection and you can access the standard Windows Backup utility and schedule tasks to secure data from the appliance to a network location. Both Windows and Mac users can back up their own data to the appliance as LaCie includes Genie Backup Manager Pro for Windows and Intego Backup Manager for Macs, each with a three-user licence.
However, our real world tests showed performance to be below par. Copying a 1.3GB video clip over Gigabit Ethernet returned read and write speeds of 22MB/sec and 13MB/sec, and FTP speeds were even slower, with the FileZilla client utility reporting read and write speeds of around 16MB/sec with the same test file.
The Genie backup software makes light work of creating workstation backup schedules, and destinations can be anything from the Ethernet Disk to removable storage devices, FTP sites and optical media. You can also run full, incremental, differential or copy backups, encrypt and compress the data and password protect it. Alas, performance was uninspiring with a full backup of 12GB of test data completed at an average of 11MB/sec.
There’s no denying the Ethernet Disk is a beautifully built appliance, but XP Embedded doesn’t give it any advantages over the current crop of Linux based appliances. Although LaCie’s backup package is better than most, the lack of RAID and poor performance don’t justify the comparatively high price.