Review: NETGEAR SC101 Storage Central

Closing Thoughts

I have to admit to tending toward disliking any networking gear that is tied to Windows - especially when it doesn't have to be. But as much as I was set to look down my nose at a "pseudo-NAS" (my term, not NETGEAR or Zetera's!), I also have to admit that the SC101 achieves what it sets out to do, i.e. be "sharable network storage with the simplicity of your C: drive".

Its single-user performance is pretty good, too, being close enough to "C:" drive speeds that many people may not notice the difference. And the SmartSync Pro backup software that comes bundled with the SC looked to be simple and flexible enough for at least my backup needs.

But the SC isn't going to be for everyone, even if NETGEAR and Zetera deliver on plans (according to my Zetera contact) to have Linux support "early next year" and Mac OS support following "toward summer". The key "left-behinds" are a group that NETGEAR is pitching the product to - folks who want a central file store for media files.

Since the SC requires a client app to access it and doesn't have a built-in UPnP-compatible server (or any other media server, for that matter), it can't be accessed by NETGEAR's own MP101 or MP115 Digital Music and Media players or similar products. And it's unlikely that anyone will be able to hack a server into the SC, since it doesn't run Linux or any other open source distro.

Updated 10/15/2005
The SC is also experiencing some growing pains. The very active NETGEAR support forum for the SC contains complaints about heat-related problems and intermittent drive disconnects among others. I've experienced some of them, like XP's insistence on running AutoPlay each time it first sees an SC drive after boot, and the need to reboot XP sometimes in order to see the drive if the SC is power-cycled. The 4.12 firmware and version 1.5.3 Manager application are said to address some of the issues, so make sure you let the Manager application check for and download any updates it finds before you start to use your new SC.

However, if the files you're looking to centrally share are all accessed from a Win XP or 2000 PC, you like the idea of providing your own drives, and the robustness of mirrored drives appeals to your risk-averse side, the SC101 could be what you're looking for.

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