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Toshiba Magnia SG30 review: Toshiba Magnia SG30

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MSRP: $1,499.00

The Good Excellent, Web-based management tools; slew of network apps, easy setup.

The Bad The closed box bars upgrades; can't serve Windows apps.

The Bottom Line The compact Toshiba Magnia SG30 server offers broadband access, wireless networking, a slew of apps, and an easy browser interface.

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7.8 Overall

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The Magnia SG30 is what was once known as a network appliance: It offers wireless networking, broadband access, and a slew of other handy applications right out of the box--really a Swiss Army Knife of a server. And don't let the Linux part scare you. The Magnia hides it behind an excellent Web-based management utility; all you do is plug it in and use your browser to set it up, and you should be up and running.

About the size of a small VCR, the Magnia will fit almost anywhere--on a small desk or a countertop close to the cable or DSL modem. It also operates almost silently, making it that much easier to put it wherever you want.

The Magnia comes with eight Fast Ethernet ports. Seven are configured as an autosensing switch, the eighth as a WAN port for connecting to a cable or DSL modem. 

Our major issues are with the Magnia's design. It's a closed box, so it can't be upgraded. Also, you will need to be careful where you put it, for one reason: The wireless access relies on an 802.11b PC card (included), which fits into a slot in the back of the machine. That means you can't improve the signal by moving the antenna unless you move the whole server.

The Web-based management utility works great. As long as your Windows machines are configured to accept DHCP network addresses, you can just connect an Ethernet cable from one of your PCs to the Magnia, then call up the management utility in the PC's Web browser. Connecting to the Internet meant simply opening the management utility, clicking Network > Internet > Configure, and entering the username and password for the DSL modem. Within seconds, all five stations in our test were on the Net.

The Magnia comes with POP3 and SMTP mail servers (not IMAP4), and you can configure the unit as an FTP server and a VPN host as well, among other options. Strangely missing is a Web server (most Linux boxes include Apache), so if you want to host a Web site, the Magnia won't help.

With a 1.2GHz Celeron and 256MB of RAM (neither of which is upgradable in this closed-case design), the Magnia would seem pretty underpowered. But we found that it ran Red Hat 8.0 perfectly, and we noticed no slowdown in Internet connectivity. But some applications, such as the management utility, took a noticeably long time to load.

Data transfers ran as fast as on other entry-level servers, whether from single or multiple clients; initial access to a Samba server, which allows file transfers between Windows and Linux boxes, took up to three minutes. Boot times were negligible, however, a welcome change from Windows.

Service for the Magnia is fairly typical for the server category, with a one-year warranty and one year of next-business-day parts replacement. You also receive a year of 24/7 telephone tech support with the purchase of your unit.

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