Review: NETGEAR SC101 Storage Central

NETGEAR Storage Central

NETGEAR Storage Central
Summary BYO dual IDE drive networked storage. Requires running an Windows XP / 2000 only client that makes drive appear like a local vs. network drive
Update 01/27/2006 - Corrected information on drives that can be used.
10/15/2005 - Corrected RAID information. Added support forum link
Pros • Supports RAID 1 mirroring
• Virtual drives can span physical disks and multiple SC101s
• Good performance
Cons • Can be accessed from Windows XP and 2000 only
• Mirrored mode writes will slow you down

Up until now, NETGEAR has steered clear of the Networked Storage market - a curious stance given that the other major consumer networking product makers all have entries in this popular category. But with the addition of the SC101 Storage Central (SC), the company is making a play for NAS market share without exposing itself to the difficulty of managing hard drive inventory.

As would befit a latecomer to the market, NETGEAR is trying a blend of strategies that have been tried before with some success to set itself apart from the consumer NAS pack. Like Ximeta's NDAS-based NetDisk [reviewed here and here], the product uses a proprietary IP-based protocol that works via an Windows XP or 2000 application that you must install on each computer that will access the SC.

But the SC's other twist makes it a cousin of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Drive) NAS such as the ADS NAS Drive Kit [reviewed], Tritton Simple NAS [reviewed], and Hawking Net-Stor [reviewed]. Like those devices, the SC comes sans-drives, so that you can re-use any 3.5 inch IDE drive you happen to have left over from your last PC upgrade. Where the SC differentiates itself, however, is that you can insert two drives, which can be set up in numerous ways, including some RAID configurations.

Update 1/27/2006 - Turns out that you can't use just any old IDE drive you have lying around. See this NETGEAR KnowledgeBase article for a list of compatible drives for the SC101. The SC101 User Forum also has threads on compatible drives and problem drives.

The result is a unique storage product that is really in a category of its own. So let's dig a little deeper into what makes the SC tick.

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