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MicroNet PlatinumNAS 4.0
MicroNet's PlatinumNAS 4.0 placed third, narrowly losing out to Netgear's ReadyNAS. PlatinumNAS offers tremendous value but with a trade-off on performance and features.
The unit combines SATA hard-drive technology with a high-availability plug-and-play architecture for ease of use and economical storage for data-intensive applications. The appliance is ideal for storing, sharing and managing digital data for small and midsize businesses, and even home users who want to protect their data as best they can.
The four-bay NAS unit is compatible with the latest 1-Tbyte SATA drives, so it can be configured as a 4-Tbyte NAS server. That's without RAID, of course. Note, however, that the sample unit came equipped with four 500-Gbyte drives rather than the expensive and hard-to-get 1-Tbyte models.
The PlatinumNAS 4.0 was tested while configured with a 1.33-Tbyte RAID 5 array. The 1.72-Gbyte folder was copied to the array in 6 minutes, 18 seconds, and copied back to the client PC in 3 minutes, 29 seconds. The two times were averaged for a score of 4 minutes, 53 seconds, giving it a third-place performance finish.
PlatinumNAS is not available as a barebones version. Instead, MicroNet offers PlatinumNAS in capacities of 1, 1.6, 2, 3 and 4 Gbytes. Loaded with four 1-Tbyte hard drives, the NAS device carries a retail price of $2,949. Note that you pay quite a premium for the 1-Tbyte drives, and it's actually cheaper to buy two 2-Tbyte units than a single 4-Tbyte unit. A 1-Tbyte unit costs $879, a 1.6-Tbyte unit costs $1,109, a 2-Tbyte unit costs $1,299 and a 3-Tbyte unit costs $2,349. MicroNet's pricing for 2 Tbytes of capacity was the lowest among the four vendors reviewed here.
One key feature of the PlatinumNAS is that the hard drives are hot-swappable. That prevents downtime and also allows for RAID configurations that include a hot spare so a failed disk can be replaced and the storage pool rebuilt with no loss of data or service. The PlatinumNAS 4.0 supports RAID levels 0, 1 and 5 as well as JBOD, where the entire 4 Tbytes of capacity is available. Of course, that's with no redundancy, which risks data loss in the event of drive failure.
The PlatinumNAS 4.0 is powered by an Intel XScale 64-bit network storage processor. It features four discrete SATA 2+NCQ disk channels and 256 Mbytes of write-back/write-through ECC memory. It can handle multiple simultaneous network services, including SMB/CIFS, FTP, Webdisk and AppleShare, and it's compatible with Windows, Unix and Mac OS platforms. It therefore allows users of different operating systems to share files and provides native support for Active Directory.
The PlatinumNAS 4.0 features dual-channel Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, allowing multiple subnetworks and workgroups to access the appliance without slowing throughput.
The unit's hard drives can be locked in place, which prevents inadvertent removal, but because thieves could always steal the entire unit, there's a Kensington lock slot on the back. One downside is that the unit offers only two USB ports, and neither of those is in the front.
Configuration, installation and maintenance are performed using a Web-based interface that can be accessed via VPN from anywhere in the world. Setup is easy and can be done in either DHCP or static IP environments. First, the user IDs are added along with appropriate passwords. Then, folders are created, with access rights given according to user permissions.
MicroNet's channel program consists of three levels with varying revenue goals. Benefits include full pre- and post-sales support, advertising and marketing where appropriate and blind drop-ship of products. Rebates, spifs and MDF are also available. Margins average about 15 percent.