Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220 NAS server review:

Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220 NAS server

Remote access
Apart from FTP and HTTP servers, the BlackArmor also comes with a very convenient way for users to access its data securely over the Internet via Seagate's free Global Access solution . This method of remote access was introduced first with the Maxtor Central Axis NAS server and was also available for the BlackArmor 440.

Like the 440, the BlackArmor 220 supports multiple Global Access accounts, one for each user account on the NAS. For example, User 1 can create a Global Access account, then log into the NAS server via its Web interface to associate his Global Access account with the user account on the NAS. Then, User 1 can go to the Global Access Web site and access his private folder as well as public folders on the BlackArmor from anywhere in the world. User 2, User 3, and so on can all do this simultaneously. Seagate says that the BlackArmor 220 supports up to 50 users.

Once logged into the NAS from a remote location, you can transfer files back and forth between the remote computer and the NAS server. While this vendor-assist method of remote access is nothing new and can be found in other NAS servers, such as the WD My Book World Edition, Seagate's Global Access allows for easily copying an entire folder from the NAS server to the remote computer--a feature not available in the My Book. You won't be able to simply drag and drop the folder, however; instead, once you've selected a folder to download, the NAS server will compress that folder into a ZIP file and you'll need to decompress it once it's downloaded. This helps the file download faster, and since Windows (and Mac OS X) supports ZIP files natively, we didn't see this as a big hassle.

Back up
The BlackArmor 220 NAS server includes one of the best pieces of backup software we've seen. It's wizard-based and allows for a long list of options, including incremental and differential backups. You can restore by running a restore wizard, by booting using the included CD, or by mounting the backups into a virtual hard drive and copying data off using Windows explorer.

The server supports external hard drives formatted using both FAT32 and NTFS file systems, allowing you to simply plug any existing USB drive into the NAS and immediately share its files. The NAS can also format external hard drives using the FAT32 file system, regardless of the drive's capacity. This is really useful as Windows only allows you to format a hard drive that's smaller than 32GB using FAT32.

CNET Labs tested the BlackArmor 220 in both of its supported RAID configurations and we were pleased with its scores. While its write speed was consistently much lower than its read, its overall performance is among the faster NAS servers we've reviewed.

In RAID 0--which is optimized for performance-- its write speed was 150.8Mbps, while the read speed achieved more than twice as fast 311.0Mbps. At these speeds, you could copy 500MB from your computer to the NAS in about 25 seconds and copy it back in another 15.

In RAID 1, which sacrifices storage space for data protection, the gap between its write and read speed was even larger. The NAS scored 139Mbps for the write speed, which, as expected, was slower than that of the RAID 0. On the other hand, its read speed posted at 345.2Mbps, noticeably faster than that of the RAID 0. This is sort of unusual, as most NAS servers would have consistently slower performance in RAID 1. However, the BlackArmor 440 also showed the same performance pattern.

Overall, the BlackArmor 220 posted very good data transfer rates, though not the best we've seen. It's actually a little slower than the BlackArmor 440, which is expected since it comes with a less-powerful processor.

CNET Labs NAS performance scores (via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
QNAP TS-239 Pro
Seagate BlackArmor 220 (RAID 1)
Seagate BlackArmor 220 (RAID 0)
Apple Time Capsule

The BlackArmor 220 worked quietly in our test. The only complaint we had about its performance was its Web interface, which is sluggish at times; it would take a few seconds after you click on an item for anything to happen.

Service and support
Similar to the BlackArmor 440, Seagate backs the BlackArmor 220 NAS server with a decent three-year warranty; many other NAS servers only offer one-year warranties. Toll-free phone service is available weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT, or you can e-mail technical support via a Web form. Seagate's support site offers installation and troubleshooting assistance, a download library, a knowledge base, and a drive troubleshooter.

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