Storage and backup: Despite the fact that this is a four-bay NAS server, the Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 doesn't offer support for RAID configurations, which would allow you to set up hard drives in redundant settings to protect data. Instead, the server uses Windows Home Server's Folder Duplication feature as a redundant backup. You can turn this feature on or off for any share folder. Once turned on, the content of the folder will be duplicated across different physical hard drives to be protected against single hard-drive failure. When a new hard drive is installed, the server will automatically rebuild the copies of data that have been lost. You can use this feature with any folders of your choosing; however, you'll need at least an additional hard drive installed. This hard drive can be internal or external (connected via the USB or eSATA connections), but it must be added as an extension of the server's storage.
The NAS accepts extra hard drives in two modes: extension and backup. In extension mode, the added drives will be the extension of the internal hard drive, with their storage blended together. You won't have control over which hard drive your data is stored to, unless you use the duplication feature mentioned below. In this mode, the NAS will format the drive before you can use it, meaning you won't be able to use a hard drive with existing data on it. In order to add a drive that already contains data, you'll need to use the backup mode. In this mode, the added drive will act as a separate volume that can be removed later. You can use this drive only to be the destination to back up the NAS' internal hard drives. This is also useful, as it allows for backing up the server's main hard drive for recovery in case it fails.
The Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 offers an excellent backup solution for PCs. The server can silently pull backups from any network computers that have a Windows Home Server Console installed, and do so without any interaction from the user. The NAS can even automatically wake the computer from standby mode to do the backup if need be. Restoring files is made simple thanks to the interface. When viewing a backup file, the NAS will convert it into a virtual drive. Then, you can just browse for files and copy them over using Windows Explorer just like you would do with an external hard drive.
Unfortunately, the NAS doesn't allow for backing up one PC and restoring another simultaneously, so you if you have multiple machines in a network, you might run into a situation where you have to disable a backup that's in process before you can restore. It doesn't come with any backup software for Macs and has no support for Time Machine, either. To use the server to backup a Mac computer, you'll need to get third-party backup software.
Remote access: The Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 offers remote access via the free Windows Live Custom domain service. You can use this service as long as you have a Hotmail or MSN account.
The setup process of the connection was pretty simple, but if you don't have a Hotmail account, it will take a few minutes longer, as you will have to register for one first. Then, just type in the Hotmail account information and everything is set up for you, provided that your router supports the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) protocol, which most of them do. Now you can remotely access the server from anywhere via the Internet by going to xyz.homeserver.com, where xyz is the name of your Hotmail account. If you have an old router that doesn't support UPnP, you'll need to manually forward certain ports to the IP address of the NAS to make this work.
This feature grants access to multiple accounts on the server that have the remote-access feature enabled. You can browse files stored in the shared folder that your account has access to and upload or download files from those folders to the remote computer. The Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 lets you download multiple files or an entire folder from the NAS server to the remote computer. If you choose to download a folder, you have the option of downloading that folder in the form of a ZIP file or an executable file that will decompress the downloaded content for you.
The Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 offered fast and interesting performance in CNET Labs' tests.
Though not equipped with the latest Intel Atom 330 processor, the Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 still excelled in our Write test. In this test we copied gigabytes of data from a network computer to the server's storage, at a rate of 347Mbps. This is currently the fastest among Windows Home Server-based NAS servers and faster even than most USB external hard drives.
In the Read test, where the information was copied back from the server to a network computer, however, the number was kind of reversed, registering only 303.4Mbps. Though significantly worse than it did on the Write test, this score still meant a very fast throughput speed, but it was the slowest among Windows Home Server-based NAS servers we've tested.
Overall, the Acer Aspire EasyStore H340 worked well in our testing, without any hiccups, and it ran quietly.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Acer backs the Aspire EasyStore H340 with a parsimonious one-year warranty. Its online support Web site is rather scant, with allowance for only one download for the manual in digital format. There's no phone support listed at the company's site for its Aspire NAS servers.