At around $500 (storage not included), the Uebo S400 Connected Storage NAS server holds little appeal when compared with other, similarly priced four-bay servers such as the Synology DiskStation DS410 or the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4. This is mostly because of its lack of features, sparse instructions, and lackluster Web interface.
The server's saving grace is that it offers relatively fast performance and can switch from one RAID setup to another very quickly. It also makes a rather straightforward storage system once it has been set up. Still, considering that there are better and more-affordable alternatives on the market, it's hard for us to recommend the Uebo S400 as a serious NAS server for home and business environments.
Setup and ease of use
At a glance the Uebo S400 is similar to the Synology DiskStation DS410 in terms of storage space and design. Both of them are relatively compact, RAID-ready, four-bay NAS servers that require you to open the cover to service the hard drive. The similarity ends there, however.
While we consider the DiskStation DS410 one of the best NAS servers on the market, the S400 would easily top the list of recent NAS servers that are frustrating to use.
First off, the device comes with a CD that contains backup software stored in the RAR format. This means before you can install it on a computer you'll need to install WinRAR or another compatible decompressor software utility, as the RAR format is not natively supported by Windows. The irony is that there's a total of only about 150MB of data on the CD, which can hold about 800MB. We just don't see why Uebo needed to compress the software and make life harder for users.
The CD also comes with a user manual in PDF format that isn't well written. For example, on one page we found a warning stating that the "server doesn't support Opera Internet Explorer (IE)." Later on, the manual repeatedly referred to "IE" as the browser of choice for different setup processes. Very confusing.
The biggest problem we found with the server in terms of setting it up, however, was the fact that it comes preset with a fixed IP address, which is 192.168.0.100. This means that in order for a computer to connect to the server to do the initial setup, you must first change that computer's (or the network router's) IP address to be on the same subnet as the address above, such as to 192.168.0.99. If this sounds like a hassle, it's because it is indeed a hassle, and even above what most regular home users can do. The DS410, for example, picks an IP automatically and comes with software that helps identify it on the network and launches the Web interface. This way, you can easily set up the DS410 server on any existing networks, including corporate ones, without even having to know what an IP address is.
After the Uebo S400's initial setup, which involves installing the NAS' firmware (included on the CD), you can launch its Web interface to further customize its functions and features. The Web interface unfortunately is oversimplified and confusing to use without much explanation.
For example, when we wanted to switch the hard drives' RAID setup from RAID 5 to RAID 0, the interface kept indicating that the operation had failed, without suggesting any reason why. Later on we found out that we needed to delete the share folder, and then remove the virtual partition, and only then would it be possible to switch the RAID configuration. It would have been very helpful if the interface were more intuitive, instead of forcing us to find out these things by ourselves. Other parts of the Web interface are similarly confusing.
To make up for this, the S400 takes very little time to change its hard-drive setup. The server supports RAID 0, 1, and 5, and in our testing with four 2TB hard drives it took just a few minutes to change from one RAID to another. This is superfast considering other NAS servers take hours, some even a day or more, to complete building a RAID of a large amount of storage. The S400 supports any SATA hard drives up to 2TB for a total of 8TB, though the company's site shows a very limited list of compatible hard drives. The server can work with just one drive, but at least two drives of the same capacity are needed if you want to use RAID. Make sure you pick a RAID configuration carefully, as once it's set up you can't switch from one to another without having to rebuild the RAID from scratch. This is a common shortcoming of standard RAID configurations, which is overcome by the Hybrid RAID of the DS410 or the XRAID 2 found in the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4. These proprietary RAID setups enable you to scale up the storage space without having to rebuild the RAID from beginning.
Technically, the S400 server allows hot-swapping, meaning you can replace a hard drive, if you use RAID 5 or RAID 1, without having to turn it off or even stop an ongoing data-transferring operation. However, because you'd have to open the S400's case to get to the hard drives, it's unlikely that feature would ever be used.
When the total of 8TB is not enough (the server didn't work with a Western Digital 3TB hard drive that we tried it with), you can resort to the S400's peripheral ports. The server has one eSATA and four USB ports on the back so you can add additional storage via external hard drives. There's another USB port on the front, which has a nifty little door that covers it when not in use. This port can be used to quickly copy the contents of a thumbdrive, using the One Touch Copy button, which is also on the front.
The S400 comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back that can be used together for load-balancing or fail-safe purposes. These two ports can't be aggregated to increase the throughput speed.
Despite the rather idiosyncratic Web interface and sparse instructions, we believe an advanced user would be able to figure the server out via trial and error. It took us about an hour to get the server up and running the way we wanted, partly thanks to the fact that the server doesn't offer many features. Once set up, it worked mostly as intended in our testing.