The boxy easyStore H340 is Acer's first home server appliance, but in use it feels like a mature, professional device. Behind the glossy front panel sit four screwless drive bays, three of them hot-swappable and two pre-populated with 1TB drives.
There's also a front-facing USB port, and if you plug in a hard disk or flash drive you'll see a button marked "USB backup" light up.
Press it and the external drive's contents are automatically duplicated into a shared folder on the server. The Acer isn't the only server with a feature such as this, but the one- touch approach is appealingly simple.
The software too has a few tricks in addition to the usual Windows Home Server features. Acer preinstalls the Lights-Out service, which automatically puts the server to sleep to a user-defined schedule, or when all clients are idle. It will power back on at a time you specify, or can be remotely woken from any client PC.
It's a smart way to reduce the server's power footprint, and a welcome one, as sitting idle in a two-disk configuration the device draws 37W. The single-disk Asus TS mini runs at a much lower 20W.
Acer also provides a six-month trial of the McAfee Total Protection Service, which scans your data for malware. That's good for peace of mind, but the subscription costs $52 a year to keep the service going, and uninstalling it is a pain.
A final distinction is the system monitoring interface, which lets you track CPU temperature and activity, plus disk and RAM usage, with email alerts to warn you when certain thresholds are passed.
The easyStore's case can be opened by removing three screws, and inside there's a half-height PCI Express x4 slot that could support extra drive controllers, should the one eSATA and five USB 2 ports not satisfy.
If your key concerns are power consumption or size then this Acer may not be for you: check out the Asus TS mini instead. But if swappable drive bays appeal, it's worth considering, especially since it's rather cheap.