It is a definitely a tough job to work with start up companies. I myself specialize in building a reliable IT system for an start up companies and let me tell you its is definitely a challenge especially in the tough financial times. The basic idea for a new start up company is to spend a minimum amount of money and get maximum performance for the money. For me being an IT Systems Engineer challenges lie in a tight budget so planning accordingly is a crucial part of my job. A healthy network starts with a solid backup system. Unfortunately start up companies may not have enough budget for an enterprise level system so finding a mid range back up solution is crucial. Today at UMLan Inc we are going to take a look at one of the NAS Servers from Seagate, BlackArmor NAS 440. BlackArmor NAS 440 has many features and is very well suited for small or start up business. Let us take an extremely close look at BlackArmor NAS 440 and see what it has to offer.
About the Product
Following information is taken from the Seagate web site.
Business-ready network storage for up to 50 workstations.
Supports Windows® XP, Windows Vista®, and Mac OS® X 10.4.11 or later.
Two Ethernet ports.
Four USB 2.0 ports.
Flexible enough to fit your business.
Whatever you need, BlackArmor fits: single or multiddrive, portable, workstation, or network-attached storage.
Built-in service and support.
You’re not on your own. The support available includes data recovery, priority tech support, and extended warranties.
Trusted drives for over 30 years.
Energy efficient, ultra-reliable Seagate® hard drives are at the heart of BlackArmor. And all products come with a three-year limited warranty.
Seagate Accessories and Additional Licenses
The included BlackArmor Backup software supports Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. It does not support Server Operating Systems. However, for users with Windows Server Operating Systems, Seagate has partnered with Acronis to provide special pricing on the award winning Acronis Backup and Recovery 10 family of products.
BlackArmor NAS 440.
Four pre-installed hard drives
2 Ethernet Ports
4 USB 2.0 Ports
BlackArmor™ NAS 440 4-TB Network Storage Server
207mm (8.15 in)
160mm (6.3 in)
269mm (10.59 in)
4800g (10.55 lb)
6.08kg (13.404 lb)
Backup Software for Windows
Microsoft RALLY®; NFS; Bonjour; CIFS; HTTP; FTP; HTTPS
Discovery Software for Windows & Mac
File Sharing Protocols
NFS; CIFS; FTP; HTTPS
RAID 0,1,5,10, JBOD
Share folder level Access Control List (ACL) support; Volume level encryption; Quotas setting; Share management
Multi-volume management; SMART status monitor
Local backup (USB device to NAS, NAS to USB device); Network NAS to NAS replication; Client system backup, Bare Metal Restore over network
Event email notification
DLNA & iTunes Server
Remote Access Included
Now that we got basic information out of the way, lets take a closer look at Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440.
BlackArmor NAS 440 comes in a rather large box. Weighing just shy of 15 lb BlackArmor NAS 440 makes a rough first impression. It is important to mention that BlackArmor NAS 440 comes in three different configurations 4 TB, 6 TB and 8 TB. Further in the review we will show you that this model has four hard drive bays. Over all the shipping box is very well build and has a handle for easy transport.
On the back of the package we found detailed information about the BlackArmor NAS 440 and a sample diagram where you might want to place your BlackArmor NAS 440. So in theory you don't need to be an System Administrator to properly install BlackArmor NAS 440 however it is suggested to have basic understanding of network topology.
On the side of the package we found Technical Specifications as well as a list of Features which accompany BlackArmor NAS 440. Seagate offers a great 3 year limited warranty plan on BlackArmor NAS 440. So if at any time during 3 years of purchase you are experiencing problem with BlackArmor NAS 440 you can contact Seagate for an RMA. Most of the server based equipment comes with 3 year warranty, standard. So this is a good investment for at least 3 years of the start up company or a small business.
BlackArmor NAS 440 was very well packaged. The actual unit was packaged in the the white foam with plastic wrap all around it to prevent scratches or accidental blemishes during shipping. The accessories of BlackArmor NAS 440 came kind of separate of the unit. We have found a power cord, cat 6 cable, installation cd and instruction manual with BlackArmor NAS 440. This unit also has USB 2.0 connectivity but does not come with any USB 2.0 cables. Odd isn't it?
BlackArmor NAS 440
On the front of the BlackArmor NAS 440 we found a protective plastic which should be removed before operating the unit. On the front we also found a power switch and three small LED's. The LED's represent up state, hard drive activity and network activity of the unit. There is also one USB 2.0 connection. On the back of the unit there is 120 mm fan to cool down a whole unit. Cooling is very important for this unit as it will be on the majority of time. Besides a 120 mm fan we found two network connections, three USB 2.0 connections, power connector and a reset button.
From let and right sides BlackArmor NAS 440 looks identical. It makes me wander where does the air gets pulled in to the system. BlackArmor NAS 440 is made our of strong aluminum body and plastic front interface. Not sure why Seagate picked this design but it would be helpful to provide some kind of air intake in the front of the unit.
Drive bay opened
Removed hard drive
The drive bay opens pretty freely and give an easy access to the four hard drive units. These drives could be upgraded with higher capacity hard drives if deserted. BlackArmor NAS 440 supports RAID 0,1,5,10 and JBOD. For those who don't know what JBOD is, Just Bunch of Drives. Meaning you can use different capacities hard drive with in this unit. You won't be able to have a proper raid with JBOD but it is better than nothing.
1TB Barracuda Hard Drive
The rotational speed of the hard drives are clocked at 7200.11 RPM. These are newest generation hard drives and promise to deliver enterprise performance. It is important to mention that you do not want to remove more than one hard drive at a time our of this unit. Yes the hard drives are hot swappable but removing more than 1 hard drive would break the raid configuration and you will lose data. A warning label could be found on the door of the BlackArmor NAS 440.
We connected BlackArmor NAS 440 to our Ortronics network rack. You might find these in pretty much in any server room. The switch we are using with BlackArmor NAS 440 is Netgear JGS524 ProSafe 24 Port. This port switch is very well known for its simplicity and performance for the small to mid size business. Providing full gigabit network this switch would be perfect. Our whole network is wired with Cat 6 cable so the latency would not be an issue.
Ready To Go
Once powered on BlackArmor NAS 440 goes trough the self test and boots in a matter of seconds. The power button and LED's glow with light blue color. What is important to mention is that this unit is very quiet and emits very little noise. If there are any errors with the unit or the booting up self test you will see the notification on the front panel. For more information about error codes you can consult Seagate.com
BlackArmor Installation CD
Getting access to BlackArmor NAS 440 wasn't to hard. A good place to start is with the BlackArmor Installation CD. On this cd you will find a discovery tool, backup tool and user guide of the BlackArmor NAS 440. Since the BlackArmor NAS 440 is not supported by server based os, Seagate has partnered up with Acronis to deliver a strong backup application which is included with the BlackArmor Installation CD. Once had everything running and had an access to a web console of BlackArmor NAS 440 we have found a great number of options. Going over every option would take us about 2 hours in a write up so here are the screen shots of the menu tabs. We will comment on the important parts of the tabs as we go along.
The System tab could be the most important tab in the whole console. In this section we can configure and monitor pretty much the full status of the system. This system can be set to send out e mails or errors or events. This comes very handy especially when this unit is going to be on for month at a time.
Network tab is pretty much explanatory. Since this unit has two ethernet connections it is possible to aggregate the connections together for better throughput. If you have a USB printer, you could also attach it to the BlackArmor NAS 440.
Under Storage tab you can find the general information about the state of hard drives and shares that are on them. You can create an unlimited number of shares for every department. A neat feature which comes with BlackArmor NAS 440 is a Downloader. Downloader is an application which could be scheduled to download a particular files at a particular time. Very handy to set up for backups.
Access tab provides simple user management and permissions. What would be great is an Active Domain authentication plug in or something like that. This would come very handy for a start up company.
Media tab offers users Digital Media Server options. I am not sure if this option or iTunes option could be helpful to the work environment, but it would come handy at home usage.
Our benchmarking of NAS units involves with the use of Intel Nas Benchmarking toolkit. Here is an explanation list of every benchmark we have ran.
Intel NAS Performance Toolkit performs its 13 benchmarks.
HD Video Playback, 2x HD Video Playback, 4x HD Video Playback
These benchmarks look at the performance of the NAS unit while playing up to 3 files simultaneously of 720p video using Windows Media Player. The data is calculated based on the sequential reading of these tests.
HD Video Record
This benchmark is responsible for writing a HD Video file in 720p to the NAS. As we know this test is basically made of recording the sequential transferred data.
HD Video Playback & Recording
In this benchmark Intel is looking a the simultaneous read and write of the HD Video file in 720p.
In Content Creation benchmark, Intel creates files on the NAS. Files are being created are random and majority of them are video files.
This benchmark is made of collecting data writes operations to the NAS. In this benchmark Intel creates and opens files which are created by random applications.
File Copy To NAS / File Copy From NAS
With this benchmark we record the data transfer speeds of 4 GB files to and from the NAS.
Directory Copy From NAS / Directory Copy To NAS
Very similar to the File Copy To/From NAS benchmark. In this benchmark we transfer a total of 126 files of about 190 MB of total size.
In this benchmark we determine the throughput of the 169 small photo files which total about 1.2 GB in size.
Intel NAS Performance Toolkit
The Intel NAS Performance benchmark takes about two hours to complete and here are the results.
Benchmark Results 1
Benchmark Results 2
Benchmark Results 3
Benchmark Results 4
The overall performance of BlackArmor NAS 440 was very good much better than the performance of BlackArmor NAS 220. If you would like to compare the data if a lower end model BlackArmor NAS 220 please visit our BlackArmor NAS 220 review here. Our estimate is that the BlackArmor NAS 440 has improved in performance over BlackArmor NAS 220 by nearly 30%. This might be due to the fact that 440 is running in raid 5 and BlackArmor NAS 220 was running in raid 1. Regardless the fact the performance of the BlackArmor NAS 440 has been great and snappy. HD Video Playback has averaged around 40 MB/s and Files copy to NAS and from NAS averaged 20 MB/s and 33 MB/s respectfully. There might be small confusion about some of the tests and their results. Some tests like Content Creation and Photo Album have low values and this is because the NAS doesn't reach the top speed of the throughput. Think of a car getting on the freeway. If you accelerated onto the freeway and the metering light came on, you would have to stop, then accelerate again, but if the metering light didn't come, you could reach top speed and keep on cruising. In short, your experience may be different depending on the file size.
What we have here is a very well designed and cheap NAS solution for the start up / small to mid size businesses. It is always a challenge for IT to come up with the right storage for the job. By selecting BlackArmor NAS 440 you are going to be able to satisfy the back up strategies of IT and won't go over the budget. Comfortable priced around 899 USD for 4 TB, 1199.99 USD for 6 TB and 1699.99 USD for 8 TB of storage. BlackArmor NAS 440 has a lot of features to offer as it has numerous options for pretty much every event. There are few additional features which would be very helpful in the office environment such as Active Directory integration, however there are no modules like that in this unit. We can only hope that future firmware versions could support this feature. Our over all experience with BlackArmor NAS 440 has been great as we ran it under a heavy usage for just about a month. We have been more than satisfied with this unit and it offered us great performance and long life reliability. It gives me a great pleasure to award BlackArmor NAS 440 with highest UMLan Inc rating 10/10! Great Product. Highly recommended for small businesses.
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