A completely different animal

by Volker Weber

netgearsc101.gifWhen Netgear announced the SC101, I thought they got it all wrong. It was advertised as a SAN (Storage Area Network), while I thought it is a NAS (Network Attached Storage) like my Linksys NSLU2, only with the disks contained within instead of USB connected external disks. It turns out, I was wrong. The SC101 is a completely different animal.

In Munich I talked to people from Zetera who supply the software for Netgear's box. The SC101 is not another computer on the network but instead it is an SoIP (Storage over IP) box. So you do not map a network drive over SMB or mount an NFS drive. Instead you configure the SC101 with a software that comes with the unit and then it attaches to your Windows computer via a miniport driver as a local drive. You can span drives with RAID 0 or you can mirror them with RAID 1, even across several SC101 units.

It works very much like other storage solutions, for a much lower price of course. I have not had the chance to get any performance data, but I am not holding my breath. There is not a lot of CPU power in the box, the drives are attached with IDE interfaces and it connects via 100 Mbit. But it is a very interesting technology.

So far for the good news. The bad news is included above: "it attaches to your Windows computer via a miniport driver". No support for Linux or Mac OS X for now. So it's completely useless for me now.

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Sounds similar to the Freecom SL Network drives.

I bought one last week. Similar technology (but they don't claim to be a true SAN) and similar story - they do have drivers for Windows and Mac, but the Mac driver broke when Tiger came out and they only have a beta driver available for now, which you have to contact tech support to get.

The Mac driver does not support access from more than one computer at a time (the Windows one does, but not in a mixed environment). As soon as a second Mac accesses the drive, it disconnects the first one. I didn't try the Windows driver - the Mac driver was consistently taking up to 20 seconds to open a folder on the disk.

Fortunately it has a USB2 interface as well as a 10/100 Ethernet interface, so I am running it on an NSLU2 for the moment, which is much more snappy opening folders and allows proper shared access from multiple Macs and PCs.

At the moment, the situation with NAS/SAN for the home market reminds me of the WLAN technology a few years ago - quite a few features that are claimed on the outside of the packaging don't always work (properly) when you install it.

John Keys, 2005-09-25

Having to install a driver into my operating system makes me a bit wary of these solutions. I prefer a NAS which exports SMB or NFS over a device that ties into the operating system at the block device level. I would hate to lose access to my storage when upgrading or switching operating systems.

Volker Weber, 2005-09-26

"So it's completely useless for me now." Well, if you need to get rid of it, let me know. I'd be happy to help you out ;-)

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-09-26

if it atleast had some facility to attach it to my linux storage systems. seesh.

so i will most likely pick the buffalo TeraStation with 1TB or 1.6TB storage.

Sascha Reissner, 2005-09-26

Dear Netgear! Change 'install our driver/software' to 'the device serves data via iscsi', add some ethernet and it will be a well accepted runner for any windows, MacOS or unix user.

Stefan Funke, 2005-09-26

What would be of much more interest to me is a device similar to the NSLU2 that combines e.g. three external drives into a RAID5-NAS-solution (keyword "somewhat more safe handling of vast amounts of digital photo data").

Haiko Hebig, 2005-09-26

@Haiko - you could try Unslung. I haven't used Unslung myself - I'm not very familiar with Linux, and have been holding off on experimenting with my new nslu2 for the moment ;-)
Allows RAID 1, which is mirroring.

John Keys, 2005-09-27

Oh, and I forgot. Low tech, but also a possibility if you want more security: the out-of-the box functionality of the NSLU2 includes doing an automatic disk copy from Disk 1 to Disk 2 whenever you want. Also not RAID 5, but would increase your data security and you could schedule it for the middle of the night, so it doesn't slow you down when you are working.
(Of course, if "vast amounts of digital photo data" puts you in the terabyte league, you may need more than one NSLU2 :-)

John Keys, 2005-09-27

Just stumbled upon your site and decided to throw my 5ct in. Well, I'm using that strange Netgear animal with two ST3120026A Barracudas as a raid 1 storage platform. It works quite nice with Windows but has two serious drawbacks. First, it performs below 10 mbit/s when handling small files and just slightly above when handling large ones. Second and most serious, it's incompatibile with any other operating system. You can't access it directly and even by sharing it in your network via "Windows Share" it appears just as a read only media device.

Marius Kubatz, 2005-10-05

As I said, Netgear is aware of the read-only problem and working on it ;) Drivers for other OSs will be a harder sell, I fear.

Stefan Rubner, 2005-10-05

I got the Netgear SC101 to successfully back up my Mac!

1. I set up Windows sharing on my Mac so that I could access the Mac's folders on my PC.
2. On my PC I created a new backup profile for the SC101 using the SmartSync software that was bundled with the SC101. In the new backup profile I defined the source folders for the backup as the ones on the Mac. I was able to select them by going through My Network Places to the Mac.
3. I run the Mac backup from my PC, which effectively acts as a controller for the Mac backup process.

Just figured this out in the last 10 minutes. Seems to be working well.


Mat Atkinson, 2007-05-02

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