Sans Digital EliteNAS

Pros: Most RAID options in review, two Gigabit Ethernet ports
Cons: Setup is more involved than others in review
Performance: A-
Ease of Setup: B-
Features: A
Value: B+
Price: $1,299

Sans Digital’s EliteNAS EN104L+BXE is a 1U rackmount appliance that has powerful disk manipulation options, but it requires more skill to set up than others in this review. The unit we reviewed had four 1T drives for a total capacity of 4T.

In this GCN Lab comparison report:

NAS appliances cover the middle ground of extra storage
What Is A RAID?
A breakdown on common RAID configurations
Buffalo TeraStation III
LaCie 5big Network
Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440
WD ShareSpace
Gaining Virtual V-locity

The EliteNAS had more ports than any other appliance tested. It had two Gigabit Ethernet ports for redundancy; if one should fail, the other could take over without a service interruption. Unique among the units in this roundup was its PS/2 keyboard and mouse and a VGA monitor port. This could come in handy if you need direct control of the appliance. The serial port could also be used for direct communication between the EliteNAS and a computer. Unfortunately, the EliteNAS has only two USB ports for sharing additional drives and other devices, which is probably fewer than the number of devices you want to add.

Because of its configuration, setup was a bit more complicated than with the other appliances. Sans Digital tests its RAID drives and then removes them from the appliance for shipment. This is safer for the drives’ integrity, but it results in an additional step.

After we installed the drives and hooked up the device to the network, we ran the NAS-Finder program, a line-command, menu-driven application that is less appealing than the graphical interfaces of the other devices’ finder software programs but not much more difficult to use.

We discovered that the drives, once installed, can only be removed by inserting a key, which is simply a bar of metal with a grip on one end. Unfortunately, this doesn’t add much in the way of security, as any reasonably strong, similarly shaped object could be used in its stead. To prove this, we were able to extract a locked drive using one of the metal prongs of a large binder clip. However, this feature is a way to prevent accidental drive ejections, particularly because the drives are not hiding behind a panel.

After we assigned an IP address, we could then use the Web-based control panel. Although it was more visually intuitive than the finder program, the control panel had the most complicated process in the roundup, partly because there were more numerous and powerful options not available on the other NAS appliances.

The EliteNAS came with all four 1T disks configured in RAID 5. We could also change them to be in RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 6, or a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) span. This was one of only two appliances in the review to offer the increased reliability of a RAID 6 configuration.

In our performance tests, the EliteNAS lagged just a bit for the file download, at 52.97 megabits/sec. However, when uploading, we achieved a rate of 55.34 megabits/sec, second fastest in the review.

Sans Digital’s list price for the EliteNAS EN104L+BXE is $1,429, which was just a little higher than we would have liked. However, the government price of $1,299 is more in line with what we’d expect to pay.

Sans Digital, 800-980-1988, www.sansdigital.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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