A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. Processing images on the BenQ SW271 gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range.
Promise Technology NS6700 NAS device
Six drive bays and two Ethernet ports make this NAS ripe for small business use
- Fast and reliable performer
- Six drive bays and two Ethernet ports
- Overall user-friendly interface
- Some aspects of the user interface could be better
- Not as obviously feature-rich as more consumer-oriented devices
- Loud fan
Far from being fancy, the Promise NS6700 is perhaps more serious in its intention to be a top-notch repository and server for your data than other NAS devices on the market, and it performs these tasks well. With six drive bays, there is plenty of space to add more capacity down the track (or from the get-go), and the unit’s overall performance, both when it came to file transfers and the responsiveness of the Web interface, was very good during our evaluation period.
Price$ 819.00 (AUD)
Promise Technology’s NS6700 NAS device is a solidly built unit that’s designed for serious data storage and backup operations. It’s not as obviously resplendent with features as other NAS devices we’ve seen recently; for example, you have to dig around a little before you find things such as plug-ins, but that just means the unit is more focused to the main tasks of storing and protecting your data.
Easy to set up and maintain
One glance at the Promise drive’s Web configuration page is all you need in order to see that its main task is to manage your data and the users who access it. There are numerous status pages where you can monitor the hardware and make sure there aren’t any problems, not only with the hard drives, but also with the cooling, processing, power, and connectivity aspects of the NAS. The information is set up in a way that’s easy to follow, and icons and animation aid the overall presentation, which should make it appealing to those of you who perhaps don’t already know too much about maintaining a NAS device for your business.
The main dashboard is the first port of call for making sure all is well with the device, and you’ll want to see a long series of green ticks. The storage tab is where you can configure your drives, first by creating a RAID array, then a logical drive, and then by selecting a file system (you can select from Windows or Linux support). You can go to the ‘NAS’ tab to easily create shared folders, users, and set permissions for those users, and it’s from this tab that you can also access some of the NAS device’s extra features, such as the DLNA server, Web server, MySQL sever, and a built-in BitTorrent client (though this didn’t work well for us).
Backups are also undertaken from the ‘NAS’ tab, and it’s from here that you get a glimpse of some of the more advanced features of the unit, with its support for backing up to remote services such as Amazon S3, and RSYNC replication. You can use the USB ports at the back of the NAS to schedule backups of the data on the NAS to external hard drives. Apple’s Time Machine is also supported.
It’s not a completely great interface, though. Our main gripe with it is that options and actions for settings do not appear unless you hover your mouse over the setting. We found this to be frustrating, but can understand it’s probably by design in order to discourage many inexperienced users from tinkering with too many settings.
Plenty of drive bays, plenty of performance
Most likely you will purchase the NS6700 without drives, which means you will have to add them yourself. Simply slide out the trays, fix the drives to them using the supplied screws, and re-insert them into the system, making sure they lock in place. Connect the NAS to your router, boot it up, check its front LCD panel for the IP address (which your router should have given to the NAS if DHCP is enabled), and use that IP address to log into the NAS.
If you don’t have experience in setting up a NAS device for your business, you can make use of the setup ‘wizard’, which can basically configure the NAS automatically from the get-go. The one-touch ‘wizard’ will configure your drives according to your preference, but you should choose ‘protection’, which uses either RAID 1 if you have two drives installed, or another of the supported redundant modes (including RAID 5) depending on how many drives you have installed.
With six SATA II drive bays, the Promise NS6700 definitely falls strictly under the ‘I mean business’ category of NAS devices when it comes to storage space, and it’s designed to take care of the storage needs of a small office, or even a home office. You can either populate it with drives in all slots from the beginning, or you can leave the slots free for expansion as your data needs change. You can also run a couple of separate drive arrays if you wish.
We set up the Promise with two 6TB WD Red hard drives, which are designed specifically for use in NAS devices, and we connected the unit to our network using Gigabit Ethernet. Up two six drives can be installed, with the capacity varying depending on the RAID level that’s used. Since we used RAID 1 mirroring, we were left with a formatted capacity of 5.89GB. Later on, we found a couple of Seagate NAS hard drives lying around and added them to the Promise as well, also in a RAID 1 array, which meant that we were running RAID 1 arrays off the same NAS.
The NAS performed to our expectations on our modest network, which was helmed by a Billion 8800AXL Gigabit router. We witnessed reliable file transfers from the NAS to our Gigabit-connected computers, with peaks upwards of 114 megabytes per second (MBps), and average transfer rates of 86.9MBps. If you plan on setting up the Promise in an office with beefy network equipment, you can make use of the dual Ethernet ports, either to balance the performance, or as a failsafe in case one link somehow dies.
During our prolonged test period, we noticed that it tends to be a loud NAS, with its fan almost never spinning down, even when the drive was idle. This could be bothersome if it the NAS is stored in a home-based office, or any other quiet, small office environment. We had to manually control the fan, setting it to ‘low’ in order to quiet things down and make working in the same room as the NAS bearable.
When we started some large file transfers while the fan setting was set to ‘low’, the NAS warned us via beeping that the enclosure was getting too warm (and it did feel warm when we put our hands on it). At this point, we thought it would be best to change the setting back to ‘auto’, which took care of the overheating issue (the enclosure cooled down again). If you’re not in the same vicinity as the NAS to hear it beeping, then the same warning will come up in the Web interface, and if you have email alerts set up, you can receive the warnings that way.
There is one large fan at the rear to keep the drives cool, while another fan is located in the power supply. Processing power is by way of an Intel Atom D525 dual-core processor with a 1.8GHz frequency.
The Promise doesn’t have any obvious cloud features, but it does support dynamic DNS, and you can also access it remotely as long as you enable the ‘WebDAV/HTTP’ service in the Network Security section of the interface, and then create a port forwarding rule in your router for it. Be sure to also change the username and password credentials of the router if you make it accessible from outside of your own network. We had no problems at all accessing the NAS remotely, though we were hamstrung by slow upload speeds from the ADSL2+ connection to which the NAS was attached.
It’s also not the type of NAS that allows you to easily install a plethora of apps in order to add functionality. Instead, the focus is on maintaining your NAS and the data that’s stored on its hard drives. Plug-ins can be added, but they can’t be searched for from within the NAS’ interface. However, we also couldn’t find any extras on Promise’s Web site. This is the main thing that separates the Promise from some of the other more consumer oriented NAS devices we’ve seen. Those other devices put a lot more focus on ‘apps’.
Far from being fancy, the Promise NS6700 is perhaps more serious in its intention to be a top-notch repository and server for your data than other NAS devices on the market, and it performs these tasks well. With six drive bays, there is plenty of space to add more capacity down the track (or from the get-go), and the unit’s overall performance, both when it came to file transfers and the responsiveness of the Web interface, was very good during our evaluation period. It’s a unit that will do well in a small office setting where capacity, user management and backups are primary concerns.
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