Western Digital (WD) may be a household name for hard disks, but it’s never been a mover and shaker in the desktop NAS appliance market. We had the dual-drive NetCenter a few years ago, which was quietly dropped and replaced by the My Book World Edition, and now we have the quad-drive ShareSpace, which moves WD’s focus to the small office.
On review is the 2TB model with two spare bays, but the appliance will only accept WD’s hard disks. The chassis is solid enough, and the appliance uses the well-regarded 500MHz Marvell SoC. Hot-swap isn’t supported, as the drives can be accessed only by undoing two thumbscrews and removing the lid. With WD’s GreenPower drives in situ the app is easy on the supply, and we clocked it using 16W in idle and 20W under load. It’s quiet as well, with the large fan at the rear making almost no noise at all.
A discovery tool provides quick access to the appliance’s web interface, plus options for viewing or mapping shares and creating desktop shortcuts. The web interface offers basic and advanced modes, where the former provides access only to key features such as shares, users, basic network details and system status. Access security extends to an internal user and group database, plus support for Active Directory.
Shares are easily created and you can make them public or dish out read and write privileges for users and groups. Quotas can also be applied at the volume level, where they apply to all users, or you can set them individually. The MioNet service allows files on the app to be accessed over the internet. You need to load a client on Vista PCs, create a MioNet account and register the appliance, after which you can access its folders and files from the MioNet web interface. Multimedia options are limited, as you only get an iTunes server.
The Downloader feature retrieves remote files using HTTP and FTP but not BitTorrent, and a glaring omission in the first-edition manual means it’s virtually inaccessible, as it doesn’t tell you the special account name for it. To use it you select the Downloader option from the drop-down Tool menu in the login screen, and enter the ‘downloader’ username plus the password added previously from the Storage/Downloads section. Now you can add tasks and use the scheduler to run them regularly.
Compared with the latest high-speed NAS appliances, performance for the ShareSpace is pedestrian. Copying a 2.52GB video clip over Gigabit Ethernet returned read and write speeds of 23.1MB/s and 15.1MB/s. FTP operations improved with the FileZilla utility reporting read and write speeds of 36MB/s and 16.3MB/s. Workstation backup is covered by the bundled WD AnyWhere Backup software, licensed for three PCs, and its backup plans include options for encryption, file versioning and continuous backup, so new and modified files are protected immediately.
ShareSpace stands out for its ease of use and remote access facilities. It’s quiet and, although general performance is average, for a 2TB NAS appliance it’s competitively priced.