Price: 579 . 849
Pros: Small, quiet, flexible, and easy to administrate.
Cons: Fiddly to set up if your network doesn’t use standard settings.
Storage can be a problem for small creative studios. You want to have a central place on your network to keep your projects to make them easier to collaborate on – and to keep them safe if your Mac or PC falls over – but you don’t have an IT bod to configure and run a proper server.
This is where devices such as Evesham’s SilverSTOR XS prove to be very useful. It’s a NAS (network-attached storage), which is like an external hard drive, but it plugs into the network and is accessible to everyone rather than plugging into your USB or FireWire port and being for you only.
NAS devices aren’t new, but the SilverSTOR XS is ideally pitched at studios. It’s about the size of a toaster, not bad-looking, and quieter than a Power Mac G5. It’s also relatively inexpensive.
The SilverSTOR XS supports up to four Serial ATA hard drives. The £579 base unit has two 80GB hard drives, which is too small for just about anyone. Our £849 test unit included four 250GB drives, in a RAID 5 configuration – so if one drive fails, your data is safe. However, this reduces the usable capacity to around 450GB.
RAID 5 also gives you a boost in drive performance, which is a benefit as the two network ports support gigabit ethernet. With the data size of projects getting larger all the time, this can be a major benefit over conventional 10/100 networking. On a gigabit network, copying to and from the SilverSTOR XS took around two minutes per GB. On a 10/100 network, it was nearer to four per GB.
The unit also supports RAID 0 (one big disk) and RAID 1 (mirrored drives for half total capacity). All of the drives are easy to remove, for example to replace a failed disk, or to take a mirror disk home in case your studio burns down while you’re away.
Set-up over the network is easy unless your network doesn't use standard (192.168.1.x) subnet settings, though workarounds are possible. A browser-based interface makes it simple to create shared folders, and even set user permissions if you want.