I’ve been a major fan of ReadNAS for many years now, so when I received this demo unit from Freecom – The SilverStore2– I knew it had a lot to live up to. Rather than give you a long and drawn out review like so many other people do, let me try to keep this short and sweet.
The Silverstore is well-built. It feels solid and the plastic parts are durable. The drives, however, are incredibly hard to remove. At first I thought I would snap the plastic lever off of the carrier just trying to remove them, because I had to use so much force but, eventually, they popped out.
This is an incredibly quiet drive. I’ve had it sitting next to me for nearly two months and I never notice it.
The NAS has a simple Webserver built-in, so you can access its settings via a browser. To configure it for the very first time, however, you’ll need to install some software on your Windows or Mac machine. I’ve included some photos of the Webserver interface, so you can see some of the features on offer.
The interface design is clean, simple and not too difficult to navigate, although I didn’t find the sections labeled in the most intuitive manner. If you spend some time away from the admin pages, you’ll have to re-acquaint yourself where all the settings are. Unfortunately, interface design is not something that gets tremendous priority by hardware designers. Sometimes you feel as if it was designed by an electronic engineer than by a designer who has market-tested their UI.
Overall, I would say that the UI is pitched at the consumer, as opposed to the prosumer. Primary users will be home users, photographers, graphic artists and people who generally do not like to spend hours configuring, tweaking and optimising.
I did have a few glitches with the admin client. Sometimes I received errors that pages were not available. I suspect that the Webserver built into the SilverStore is either a bit buggy or underpowered. Usually this problem solved itself by waiting a few minutes and trying again, or refreshing the browser.
This is a solid but no-frills device. It includes an iTunes music server and the ability to stream photo and video content to compatible UPnP media players (such as the XBox, see above).
I say ‘no-frills’ because – unlike the ReadyNAS – there isn’t a vibrant community of modders creating plug-ins. This probably won’t affect most people but for those who love to choose which bittorrent server they want to use, or who like to run all sorts of Linux services on top of their NAS device… then the Freecom SilverStore isn’t going to be for you.
I suspect that this isn’t really going to disappoint the majority of users out there. However, there was one service that I love and missed in the Freecom and that’s the Logitech Media Server (previously known as Squeezeserver). For those of you who don’t know what this is, you probably won’t care. But for those of us with massive music libraries that we wish to distribute around our house, over the Web and on our iOS devices… the Logitech Media Server is a game-changer. And it runs as a service on top of the ReadyNAS. I really wish that the Freecom device supported it.
Apple users will be pleased to note that the SilverStore2 does support Time Machine backups.
There is a USB 3.0 port on the front, so you can do backups from and to a USB-attached hard drive at higher speeds than the norm.
This isn’t the fastest NAS out there, so you won’t be doing any video editing from this device. It’s better for backups.
This is a very solid and reliable NAS box. It’s well-machined and simple to use. The Web interface is buggy but uncomplicated… but not as nicely laid out as it could be. The box is quiet and worked flawlessly during the few months that I’ve been using it. It may not be as fast as a directly connected RAID disk but it gives you most of the advantages of a networked attached storage device in that it’s relatively portable, can be shared amongst users and is a good way to safeguard your data.
It doesn’t offer much extendability in terms of mods, hacks or plugins – but that may be a bonus for most consumers and small-business users, who prefer simplicity over feature-set.
The SilverStore 2 is sold with or without hard drives installed, so make sure you get what you want when shopping!