Uebo S400 Connected Storage NAS server
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.
Apart from the ability to download files on its own--with support for BitTorrent, FTP, and HTTP sites, including those that require authentication--the S400 doesn't offer any other special features for home users. For business users, it also supports iSCSI, an increasingly popular feature among NAS servers in which a portion of the server's storage can be used in place of a computer's local hard drive.
Other than that, the S400 is rather spartan in terms of features. It supports file sharing in both Windows and Mac OSes. You can browse for it using a network browser such as Windows Explorer, and once connected it automatically appears in a Mac's Finder. The server doesn't offer support for Time Machine, however.
The Uebo S400 manages storage access via regular user accounts. Once an account is created, the credentials (username and password) will be prompted for the first time you try to access the server. Unfortunately, user access restriction dictates either full access or no access to a share folder--there's no "read-only" access.
The way the server handles share folders is esoteric. Before you can create a share folder, you'll need to make a virtual partition for it. This partition can later be expanded but not shrunk. This means if you happen to make one that takes up the server's entire storage space, you'll likely be in trouble if you want to do more with the server. For example, if you now want to have more than one share folder so you can use some restrictions for data privacy, you'll first need to remove the existing virtual partition (and hence lose all the information stored on it) and then create smaller ones. This is a real hassle, as you need to plan far ahead in terms of how many virtual partitions you think you'll want. Note that if you want to use the iSCSI feature, it also requires a virtual partition of its own. It would be much better if you could make more than one share folder on one virtual partition.
The server supposedly has media-streaming capability. However, when we tried it out we couldn't get it to work and none of our streamers was able to detect the server as a streaming source.
All in all, we found that the Uebo S400 works best as a simple network storage device that hosts files and backups for other computers in the network, and users shouldn't expect more from it.
We tested the Uebo S400 server with both RAID 5 and RAID 0, and the server's performance was on par with recent four-bay NAS servers we've reviewed. Still, for the price, we wished it were faster.
In tests with RAID 5--which is the recommended setup for a balance between performance, storage space, and data safety--the server scored 31.1MBps for writing and 41.3MBps for reading. These are decent numbers, though noticeably behind the 43.36MBps and 105.38MBps of the DS410 for writing and reading, respectively.
In tests with RAID 0, which focuses on performance and maximum storage space at the expense of data safety, the S400 did better, with 40.9MBps and 52MBps for writing and reading, respectively. Still, again, these numbers, though slightly faster than those of some other servers, are still much behind those of the DS410.
Though it didn't blow us away, the S400's performance is fast enough for even heavy file sharing and backups as well as media streaming. The NAS performed quite well in our testing, although it was rather noisy, even in an environment with a high level of ambient noise like our lab.
Service and support
Uebo indicates in the S400's Quick Installation Guide that support for the server is available at http://www.uebo.net/support, but you'll find a 404 error following that link. Instead, you should go to Uebo's main Web site and click on the Support tab. There, you'll find downloads of the firmware update, the manual, and other support materials. Uebo backs the S400 with a standard one-year warranty. The company's toll-free support line is available from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT.
In conclusion, a few years ago, the Uebo S400 Connected Storage NAS server would have been a great product based on its decent performance. In the current market, however, the S400's lack of features, its less-than-robust interface, its poorly written instructions, and its hefty price make it hard for us to recommend it for any environments.