I purchased a Linksys EFG120 Network Attached Storage/Print server device to play with.
You can buy these online for $675 or so (e.g. http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=56-124-001&depa=1). The Linksys page describing the product is at: http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=35&prid=555.
The EFG120 is a expandable 120GB NAS device with a built-in print server. It includes drive bays for 2 removable IDE hard drives; one is occupied by a Maxtor 120GB drive (6Y120L0). Installing a 2nd drive gives you either double the disk capacity or backup of the first drive. The network port is 10/100/1000 (Gigabit). The fact that it supports two drives and Gigabit Ethernet puts it above the current “ultra-low-end” NAS market represented by the likes of the Tritton TRI-NAS120 ($270), but below the mainstream “low-end” NAS represented by the DELL PowerVault 725N ($1799).
The Tritton 120GB model includes a single IDE drive and is slow (even though it supports 100baseT my tests showed 5-8mbps throughput). The DELL is running Windows Server and has 4 40GB IDE drives and supports RAID 0, 1, and 5 as well as Gigabit Ethernet…and it’s 1U rackmount form factor.
Linksys is targeting this device at small businesses and workgroups. Setup was easy and usage was not horrible. A naïve small business owner would be hard pressed to understand why he should spend $1800 on a DELL or Iomega NAS vs. this thing.
Setup was simple. If you have UPnP enabled on your system (it’s off by default on XP, you have to add/remove programs to turn it on), the EFG120 shows up in Network Neighborhood. Double clicking takes you to the web-based admin page.
Configuration was a bit goofy. The UI is not very intuitive but workable. Setting the device’s name to “NAS” allowed me to open \\NAS and see all the shares. So netbios naming is supported (it also supports WINS in some fashion).
The 2nd drive can be used either as more storage or as a “backup” for the first drive. If the 2nd drive is used for expansion there is no striping or other fancy stuff. You can simply share out the 2nd drive via another share name (this means that you can’t copy a 200GB file to the device even though you have 240GB of drive space. For backup the device does NOT support RAID mirroring, but instead copies the files from the first drive to the 2nd. The effect is the same though.
The device supports “advanced” functions such as defrag, “chkdsk”, and email alerts.
You can add users and groups and assign permissions to the shares you create appropriately. The built-in “Everyone” group allows anonymous/non-authenicated access. This is good for me because I use DFS at home and Domain DFS can only access protected shares using NTLM auth (although it’s unsecure, but for my music collection who cares
I didn’t test the print server functionality, but I assume it works as advertised.
Performance seemed good, but I didn’t test it quantitatively.
I don’t know if you can put a larger than 120GB drive in it. A google search didn’t help answer this and I don’t have a spare larger than 120GB drive lying around to test. Since it boots from flash, not the disk, you should be able to put any disk in it to test. I may give this a try at some point.
There you go…