Evesham Technology SilverSTOR XS review
Evesham Technology has been busy this year building up an impressive portfolio of network storage appliances. The SilverSTOR XS is the latest addition to this extensive family. It’s a compact desktop unit aimed at small businesses looking for a good helping of NAS at an affordable price.
The power under the bonnet is a rebadged N4100 from Thecus, which was founded in 2004 as an offshoot of Abit. The appliance delivers a full 1TB of Serial ATA storage backed up with some useful RAID options. It’s a well-built cube, with the review unit including a quartet of 250GB Western Digital hard disks. Internal arrangements are slightly unusual: the easily removable rear panel has a daughtercard with four SATA ports that mate directly into the back of the hard disks, while the main board, which contains the processor, memory and SATA controller chips, fits into a proprietary slot to one side. In practice, it works well enough, and the main board’s mini-PCI socket accepts an optional wireless module, which should be available by December. The embedded Intel SATA controller provides hot-swap capabilities, while the Linux kernel offers software-managed RAID0, 1, or 5 arrays and JBODs. The hard disks are fitted in solid carriers, which are easy enough to remove and usefully can be key-locked in the appliance.
Installation simply involves connecting the system to the network and pointing a web browser at its default IP address. The web management interface is a tad basic, but offers easy access to its features. The first screen provides information about processor loading, memory utilisation and hard disk status, and a row of tabbed folders lets you move easily to storage configuration. Note that the appliance only supports one array type at any one time.
However, on several occasions we found the documentation confusing. For example, contrary to what was printed, the appliance not only supports hot-standby for RAID5 but also allows one member to be assigned to a dual-disk mirrored array (although this is only useful where just three disks are installed).
The review unit was supplied in a four-disk RAID5 array, but this can be destroyed and new arrays and spare drives easily created. To test hot-swap capabilities, we pulled a drive from the appliance, whereupon it acknowledged that the RAID5 array was degraded. Replacing the drive started an automatic rebuild, although this did take over six hours to complete, during which time the appliance’s CPU utilisation rarely went below 100 per cent. In the event of system or disk errors, up to four email addresses can be specified to receive alert messages.
Local security options are comparatively good, as the appliance supports access control lists (ACLs), so you can manage access with local group membership and password-protected usernames. Each shared folder has its own ACL, which allows you to designate specific users and groups, and either deny access or allow read-only or full-write access. Active Directory is also supported, so the appliance can become an AD member and use groups and user accounts maintained on the specified domain controller.
If hot-swap capabilities aren’t a priority, the low-priced Buffalo Technology TeraStation would be worth considering. Otherwise, the SilverSTOR XS offers good storage features and capacity at a reasonable price.