Seagate Business Storage 4-Bay NAS review:

A low-cost workhorse

I'm not sure why Seagate called the new server Business Storage, since it offers the fewest business-related features I've seen in all the NAS servers I have reviewed in the past couple of years. In fact the only truly business feature the server has is support for iSCSI, which allows a network computer to use the server's storage as though it were its own.

There's not even support for Active Directory and LDAP, which would enable the server to join an existing domain so IT administrators could manage the NAS server's user accounts, groups, and resources via a domain controller. The Business Storage 4-Bay NAS also can't work as a PHP or SQL server, so if you wanted use it to run a Web site or a database, you're out of luck. And most of all, it doesn't support packages, or add-on applications, that allow users to add more functions and features. The server does come with a built-in Wiki server, which is a local Web site on the NAS that is available to all users and is used for information sharing and collaboration.

The USM slot works like the old Zip drive (or floppy drive) worked, but with the Backup Plus portable drive it offers a much larger and faster peripheral storage solution.
View full gallery
The USM slot works like the old Zip drive (or floppy drive) worked, but with the Backup Plus portable drive it offers a much larger and faster peripheral storage option. Dong Ngo/CNET

The Business Storage server doesn't have many fun features for home users, either, other than support for DLNA media streaming. What the new server does have to offer is its backup capability, which is important for both home and business environments.

In addition to the Quick Backup feature via the USM slot mentioned above, the Business Storage 4-Bay NAS supports Time Machine natively and comes with 10 licenses for the Windows backup software. On top of that, you can also sync two Business Storage servers in a NAS-to-NAS backup.

All of the server's settings can be managed via its Web interface, which is quite organized and a big step up from the BlackArmor 440's interface. A granular menu on the left opens up details of each item to the full page on the right. Other settings, such as user management, RAID configuration, firmware updates, and so on, are very standard.

Like the BlackArmor 440, the Business Storage 4-Bay NAS comes with a Seagate-assisted remote-access feature called Seagate Global Access (SGA). You first need to sign up for a free SGA account, and then associate that account with the NAS server. After that you can access the server's storage remotely via a computer or mobile app.

I tested the Seagate Business Storage 4-Bay NAS in both RAID 5 and RAID 0 configurations, and while it was quite fast, it wasn't as fast as some of its peers, especially in writing.

In RAID 5, which is the recommended setup for the server, it scored 33MBps and 83MBps for writing and reading, respectively. Compared with the Seagate BlackArmor 440 -- which scored 18MBps and 42MBps for writing and reading, respectively -- the new Business Storage NAS is a huge improvement. Compared with other four-bay NAS servers on the market, these scores were just below average. The Synology DS412+, for example, registered more than 100MBps for both writing and reading in the same RAID setup.

Things got a little better in RAID 0, which is optimized for speed and storage space. In this configuration, the Business Storage 4-Bay NAS scored 44MBps for writing and 87MBps for reading. However, this was still just average.

Note that while the new server's data-transferring numbers weren't impressive, it's fast enough for most local network applications for small businesses or homes. On top of that, the server was very quiet and remained cool throughout out the testing.

The server's performance when working with a Backup Plus portable drive in its USM slot was much slower than I expected. In my testing, this averaged about 7MBps, which was less than one-tenth the speed of a hard drive to a host via a SATA 3 (6Gbps) connection. While I didn't expect the full speed of SATA 3 due to overhead, the speed between the Backup Plus and the server should be closer to 100MBps. Seagate says the speed will be improved in future firmware releases and will be closer to that of USB 3.0.

CNET Labs NAS performance scores, via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Synology DS412+ (RAID 0)
Thecus N4800eco (RAID 0)
QNAP TS-469 Pro (RAID 0)
QNAP TS-469 Pro (RAID 5)
Seagate Business Storage 4-Bay NAS (RAID 0)
QNAP TS-412 (RAID 0)
Seagate Business Storage 4-Bay NAS (RAID 5)
QNAP TS-412 (RAID 5)

The Seagate Business Storage 4-Bay NAS is a frills-free, low-cost network-based server that will meet the expectations of an office or home with straightforward storage needs. It's like a hard-working horse that you can rely on for daily chores but can't use for racing at all.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

    This week on CNET News


    Discuss: Seagate Business Storage 4-Bay NAS (Diskless)

    Conversation powered by Livefyre