Review: NETGEAR SC101 Storage Central

In Use

Now that you've endured the technical nitty gritty, let's get into how this puppy works. First, the drive is sturdily constructed, surprisingly small, and yes, does remind one of a toaster, but for Mini-Me sized slices of bread. Its beige, rounded packaging and fan-less operation should prevent any spousal objections to its addition to most any room in the house.

It has backlit icons for Power / Status, Disk activity and LAN activity on its front, and Power and 10/100 Ethernet jacks on the rear along with a recessed Reset / Reset-to-factory-defaults button. Note that the Ethernet port has auto MDI / MDI-X capability, so will connect to any Ethernet port without requiring a crossover cable.

The front LAN activity light does not indicate link status, but the Ethernet jack on the rear has both tiny Link and Activity LEDs built into the jack. The Power / Status LED uses blink patterns to communicate what's ailing it, so if you see it doing anything but lighting up steadily, you'll need to break out the PDF User manual to see what's up.

You may have noticed there is no power switch on the SC, which means there also isn't the press-and-hold-to-initiate-shutdown feature typically found on NAS products. When you want to power down the SC, all you do is pull the plug - the automatic head-parking feature of today's hard drives will keep your data safe from harm.

Installation consists of inserting one or two hard drives, installing the software and then configuring drives with the Storage Central Manager Utility. NETGEAR has done a nice job with cable management and case design, so you'll be done with the drive install in under a minute (Figure 5). The thing that will probably take you the longest is trying to dig up documentation describing how to set your drive's jumpers to Cable Select (CS) mode.

Figure 5: Installing the drives
(click image to enlarge)