Netgear Storage Central Model SC101 – Review

Storage Central – Model SC101 £68 (£79.98 inc VAT) is a hard disk enclosure with built-in disc controllers and networking features. This device emulates one or more logical drives using one or two physical IDE or PATA hard disks and provides a shareable storage facility accessible by all windows computers on a DHCP enabled network.

A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a collection of storage  Bay Area process serversthe devices linked to the local area network which are accessed and administered as one central pool, such storage does not require a specific computer to be running for file sharing.

The device is attached to the network switch or router and acts like a file server for all the windows computers. However, unlike most other network storage devices, this one requires a client to be installed on each computer in the network.

The basic unit is supplied with 0, 1 or 2 drives c£68+VAT for the empty box and £92+VAT to include an 80gig hard drive – the storage can be bought separately, or you can add your own existing hard drives to the ’empty’ box.

Product Description:

This unit provides both Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) level 0 & 1 and can be expanded indefinitely. SmartSync Pro advanced backup software is included which creates real-time copies of stored data from the clients .

This product is well suited for sharing and back up with the simplicity of using a local drive. Easy to set-up and install, connect to any wired or wireless router (54G Wireless Ethernet Adapter) or switch.

This is very basic storage area network type implementation but it is not a network attached storage device, so each computer on the network must have its own client software installed. There is no ability to connect to the device, using its native file share method and there is no platform-independent file-sharing support. (As opposed to the standard situation where a NAS device will offer a shared file system that can be mounted in the OS’s native method.)

You MUST use the included software. Although the device is capable of listening on port 80, there is no web interface to configure it. The included software, running on Windows is the only way.

Data transfer (read or write) about around 3MB/s. (this should be more like 10MB/s. This unit only supports simple security, ie a single password for each “logical drive” configured during set-up, probably because this is designed for the home market.

Good stuff:

1) Supports spanning and mirroring capabilities.

2) Discrete device eliminating the need for an additional computer/server.

3) Can support unlimited storage within the physical limitation of the two drive bays.

4) Once the interface drivers are installed, all Windows applications are able to utilise the attached drives as ‘local’ drive letters.

5) Easy to install and set up assuming a simple home network.

6) Supports block-level data transfers and fast response time being slightly better than USB 2.0 or fire wire external hard drives.

7) Inexpensive compared to similar products. Pre-configured network-attached storage (NAS) devices range from £200 to £1,500.

Bad stuff:

Hardware Issues:

1a) No peer-to-peer network connectivity (UPnP support).

1b) Drivers are only compatible with Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 200x.

2) It only supports IDE ATA 6 or 7. Most new drives on the market meet this requirement but older drives will likely not.

3) This system uses a partition format unrecognized by Windows, So these hard disks can not be disconnected and put into another computer without being reformatted.

4) This device allows password protection of each individual logical drive but does not support NTFS level security, there are no folders restricted to specific machines.

5) The disks are passively cooled and the device can get extremely hot when in use. Whilst this does not seem to adversely effect operation, using two fast hard drives could lead to premature failures.

6) No file level compression or associated security.

7) Each physical hard disk reacquires one IP address.

Software Issues:

1) No web based management utility, device setup can be done from any computer with the interface drivers but each computer’s drives must be configured individually.

2) The interface software is true 64 bit and is not compatible with windows 9x systems;

3) The configuration utility is simple to use but is very basic, I am using version 1.5.7.

4) Every time the utility loads, it asks the user if it should check for and install driver updates. This can be bypassed but you are informed that “the software upgrade contains valuable enhancements” regardless of if you are using the latest version or not.

5) The update process takes an unpredictable time (there is indication of activity but not of total progress or time required) and is not automated; download and update are not integrated and requires answers to questions that are implied.

6) When the device firmware if updated, the drivers and utility software on all the computer must be upgraded and sometimes the drives need to be reattached.

7) There is an online help system which explains the utility features, but does not include any instructions, user guide or how to information.

8) There are two configuration options, advanced and a set-up wizard, drives created with the advanced method can be attached by the wizard but these drives are ignored and can not be managed.

9) No audio streaming support.


Buy: If you want an economical solution, which will work straight out of the box 98% of the time, and you have a typical home network with no complications, and none of your computers have spare drive bays you are happy to configure for your own backup drives.

Don’t buy: If any of the above don’t apply, or you want direct addressable storage from any part of your network, or you have critical data protection requirements, or your network is not currently configured using or can not use dynamic host configuration protocol (DCHP), or is using non standard private addressing range

This is not a prefect technical solution and is unsatiable for anything larger than a typical home or micro office environments. 6/10 for design and implementation, 9/10 for effort and usefulness.

Effectively: If you don’t know how or why your network works, this is probably perfect. If you do know what you are doing, you will almost certainly have tweaked something somewhere which will make this unusable or unnecessarily complicated to make work.






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