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Review: NETGEAR SC101 Storage Central

Last response: in Toms Network
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February 15, 2006 6:35:58 PM

Users have had mixed experience with this product. Have you used it and did it work ok for you?
April 9, 2006 10:15:43 PM

As always, great review, technical enough without being overwhelming, good summary. Really liked the attention to audience, I am a windows only user looking for central storage, so I felt very comfortable this would fit the bill based on the review.

Thanks.
April 9, 2006 10:49:22 PM

Thanks for your comment. I haven't checked the Netgear forums for the SC101 in awhile. You might want to see if users are still having problems before you buy.
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May 24, 2006 8:45:26 PM

I bought one of these little darlings at the beginning of April. Had no problems with it whatsoever. Started with two spare 120Gb drives and later upgraded to two 250Gb drives. Again no problems.

Then one day a couple of weeks ago we had a thunderstorm which fried my wireless router. Even though it was on a plug board with surge protection it was completely dead. I think the lightning struck the telephone pole outside my house. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Cost me 80 pounds (UK) to replace the router.

Got the network up and running again but was unable to access the SC101. Lots of other gear working perfectly. Checked settings and firewalls to make sure everything was OK. Still no access to the SC101. No partitions visible on the network using the command line utility UT.exe.

Decided to get in touch with Netgear support. Asked some questions (by email) and got answers to questions I didn't ask. Eventually phoned customer support and spent one and a half hours going through everything I has already tried. (Level 1 Technician). Then passed on to a level 2 Technician who sounded like he had just woke up and couldn't be bothered.

Being an honest sort of guy, I told the truth about the thunderstorm to which he replied that he would have to ask his Lead whether or not the unit was covered by the warranty. But his lead wasn't around at the moment and would send me an email. Email arrived confirming not under warranty. Emailed back asking about repair. No answer. Re emailed. No answer.

One dead unit sat on the shelf. Flash memory obviously corrupted by static generated from the blown router. No solution from Netgear other than buy another unit. No thanks.

Moral : If something goes wrong with a piece of kit, whether malfunction or your fault. Lie through your back teeth and get it replaced free of charge.
June 1, 2006 2:22:07 AM

With the SC101 there is no difference between setting up a mirror on the two drives in a single SC101 or on two drives, each in its own SC101 - since all the mirroring is done at the SCSI driver level on the PC.

BUT when you do this, you can trace all the traffic that occurs on the network during reading and writing. If you do this, you will find that, despite what you might read in Zetera's white papers, their patent filings (searchable at freepatentsonline.com), or even Tom's Hardware reviews or any other trade press, no multicasting whatsoever is used when writing files to these devices. It is simply two unicast UDP streams.
June 1, 2006 3:13:37 PM

I'm posting this from a reader:
Quote:
Just a quick note. I ran a packet trace on an SC101 while writing to it in mirrored mode (quite easy to do with a managed switch and port mirroring). I can confirm that at no time does the SC101 do multicasting in any way during the write. Despite what is said in the zetera whitepapers or in the patents (searchable online) that they have filed for this technology, multicasting is simply not done. It simply sends two unicast UDP streams to port 20001 on the two destination IPs, with frame size of 16410 bytes which gets fragmented into 1500byte fragments.
July 3, 2006 6:36:44 PM

Similar to Minister, I also was very satisfied with my SC101 for the first couple of months. Then a power outage hit while one of my computers was being backed up to the SC101. In spite of having APC, the backup files on both of the mirrored drives in the SC101 disappeared and I could not reestablish the drives with the Netgear software. After relentlessly badgering Netgear support for help, they surmised that in spite of APC, the drives were corrupted. They told me to fill the drives with zeros and start over. I tried, and finally gave up. My two Seagate drives that I originally installed in the SC101 are now reinstalled as second drives in each of my two PCs and my SC101 has become an empty paperweight.
August 2, 2006 1:01:20 AM

I picked up a SC101 a couple of days ago from the local PC World. Their last one, it would seem and it had been on display. I've been beating my brains out since, trying to get the damned thing to configure onto the network and start behaving according to the manual. Either I've got a box that's faulty in some way (which I'm inclining to), or there's something perculiarly demanding about how it likes it's DHCP feed. I think the latter is OK though - the wife & daughter's computers both like it, and both can use the printer server I installed 2 days previously.

Still investigating the problem, but I'm reduced to "if all else fails, blame the hardware".
August 9, 2006 5:53:03 PM

Hello, can anyone tell me how long it took to mirror a drive? I'm setting up the SC101 for the first time and used 2x200gb hard drives which were not on the compatibility list and I let it mirror the new drives for 12 hours before I pulled the plug on it. I then called Netgear and they suspected that it's because the drives are not compatible but they would have to get a level 2 technician to call me back (which he hasn't yet). I decided to go a buy 2x250GB hard drives which ARE on the compatibility list and this time it's tried mirroring the 2 drives for about 20 hours now and it's still going. My network is pumping data through at 50Mbits/sec and the hard drive light is flashing on the SC101 so it looks like it's doing something but how long do I have to wait? The drives are brand new and empty! I don't understand what this thing is trying to do.

So if anyone has mirrored a drive successfully, please let me know how long it took and for how many Gigs.

Thanks!
Kyle
September 7, 2006 3:28:43 PM

I have had my SC101 for over a year and it works fine and backups all my files perfectly. The ZETRA drivers caused some problems at 1st but as soon as I got the latest drivers worked fine. As far as the mirroring goes I didn't feel I need to mirror as I have the original and the backup so I should have 1 or the other in case of problems. If your data is really important backup to a DVD as well.
September 25, 2006 2:45:21 PM

The SC101 does not seem to work with a PC that uses SATA drives. Netgear says to disable the drive, but that's not possible when it is the boot drive. I have not found a solution yet.
September 29, 2006 1:56:22 PM

I purchased the SC101 for use as Storage to backup up all of the PC's on my home Lan. I use Powerquest's Drive Image 7 to create an image and save it to the SC101. The image creation works fine but as everyone knows, the backup is useless if you can't restore it. Powerquest's restore software is booted from a CD which let's you load any drivers you need during the boot process. The SC101 doesn't provide a driver for use at this level and Netgear support referred my question to their Level 2 support who never got back to me. I have 14 days to return the product to the store which is up tomorrow. This seemed like an affordable product that would suite my particular need but in the end the Manufacturer's lack of response resulted in a no sale.
October 27, 2006 1:20:56 PM

We are experiencing the same difficulty as Fireflynav. Not much help from Netgear either ( outsourced technical we think). Does anyone know if there is a fix in the works for the SATA drive issue?
After reading these posts, I am very concerned about data loss in the event of power problems. If something should happen, can data be retrieved without Netgear's assistance?
We have one SC101 with two mirrored WD 160GB drives installed.
November 4, 2006 3:33:07 PM

The short version: The SC101 is one of the worse products I ever bought!

The Long Version:

After reading the review in Toms Networking (TN) I thought I would get a decent working NAS. I did not expect miracles and realized that it was not the fastest NAS on the block. After all it is a rather cheap unit.

The first problem was installing the Zetra driver. It worked on my XP machine but not on a Win2K. It complained about a missing driver. After some google:ing I realized that I was not alone with this problem. After a few attempts it finnaly worked. What I did was installing the older driver that came with the unit. After that I could update to the latest version.

The SC101 has 2x320GB disc installed. I mirrored 200GB and have 2 other partitions of 100 GB each. Here was another problem. I thought I read that one partition could span over multiple physical drives, but I couldn’t find a way of doing it. An earlier post mention along mirroring time, but for me I believe it took less then 10min.

Quote from TN:

Its single-user performance is pretty good, too, being close enough to "C:" drive speeds that many people may not notice the difference.

Was that a joke or? Indeed I got a similar read and write speed as TN, but the 2500KB write speed on the mirrored discs are painfully slow! I manage to stream music if I’m alone on the LAN, but Video gets jerky and don’t even think of streaming HD video material!

Back to the win2k machine. Even if the installation of the driver worked fine. It was very difficult to be able to attached the partitions I already created. A few reboot later of both PCs and NAS and I finally manage to see the drives.

Now the Sygate Firewall I had installed really didn’t like the SC101. It show every second minute “intrusions” from drives and tries to block the “intruder”. If I temporary disable Sygate, then I can access the drives.

If you open up Explorer and click on “My Computer”, then the whole PC freezes for around 30 sec. This happen on both of my machines. Not only that also periodically the PC freezes up. Even if you e.g. are listing to a mp3 which is stored on the C-drive, the music interrupts for a brief moment which is very annoying. If I stop the service “Zetetaservice”, then this problem disappear. The same problem exists for both XP and Win2K.

Occasionally Zetera uses around 35% CPU load (P4 2.4GHz, 1HB Ram) for a while (~1min). This is without doing anything towards the NAS.

Forget to scan your drives with Norton Antivirus. It will probably take weeks!!! I say probably as I gave up after 3 days of scanning. Indeed you can see that “total scan files increase, but this with around 1 files per min! I don’t know what the problem is. There is no high CPU load and no network activity.

Not only this, during the scan, no other PC on the LAN can be used as they completely freezes up!!!

And the worst problem; I would like to use the SC101 as a boat anchor, as it seems to be the only good purpose of it. But before that as I can’t use the drives in another NAS, I first need to buy 640GB of space to copy over my stored data, before I can reformat the old drives 

If anyone has any ideas how to improve my “boat anchor’s” performance, please let me know.

/// Rob
Anonymous
a b G Storage
January 20, 2009 10:28:48 PM

Not compatable with Vista 64bit. Do not believe the posts that there are drivers supporting Vitsa 64. I used it for over a year with XP...no problems....it is now a door stop. Very Disapponted!
February 22, 2009 5:13:57 PM

This is the is the biggest piece of crap I've ever used. Never use any drive with a proprietary format. What a big mistake. Of course, I'm the idiot for putting many precious files on the Sc101 that can no longer be accessed and are lost forever. Simply put, buy another hard drive for your computer! The programmers at Netgear & Z. need to be hung out to dry.
July 12, 2009 7:52:51 PM

What slow? Cant access? what have you all done to forget rule #1 from the days of DOS.....

If your unit is a 120VAC model, then simply plug it into 220 VAC, it will run twice as fast!

It did wonders for my 8086 with (yes I had that much in it) 1 MB of ram! Yea Haw!

P.S> dont forget to unplug it first before using it as an anchor, might scare the fishes
January 11, 2010 3:14:12 PM

I've used my SC101 with firmware upgrade for years without problems. It has two 250Gb drives with two partitions each. I use it for archival storage. It works with 7 computers (2 laptops) on my home network. It takes some time to wake after it goes to sleep, but I am retired and am not in a rush.

If anyone knows how to adjust the sleep timing, I'd like to hear from you. I'd like to set it to sleep after 1 or 2 hours of non-access.

Heat was alarming at first. I emptied the unit of drives and cards, then drilled many holes between top heatsink fins. I bored a two inch hole centered in the bottom and installed a 12 volt fan from an old video card. I power the fan with a 9 volt AC adapter, so it runs slow and quiet. Now it never gets hot.

I have my phone line, DSL modem/router and the SC101 plugged into a UPS with surge protector. The DSL modem got quite warm, so I placed a 12 volt power supply fan running on 9 volts next to it, with a baffle to direct air to the modem vents.
!