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Administration And Web-Based Front End

NAS Attack: Network Storage From Thecus And Western Digital
By , Patrick Schmid

MyBook World Edition II: An Intuitive Administration Console

WD’s NAS product is ready to run as soon as you plug a network cable into your switch. The device automatically obtains an IP address through DHCP, which has to be available on your local network. Once the address is assigned, you can start configuring the device via a Web b-based interface and any Internet browser. The MyBook World Edition II is a consumer device, hence the design and structure of the interface is intuitive and simple.

Large buttons show you the way to the most important settings and options; their titles are self-explanatory. WD did not forget to add a comprehensive online help feature, which is locally available, rather than requiring Internet access.

Advanced Features Included

You can switch the management interface into the advanced mode as well, which offers more feature options. Here you can configure the RAID mode, but also software features, such as enabling the integrated Twonky Media Server or the iTunes server feature. Management options, like file sharing settings, are more comprehensive in advanced mode, as it is now possible to create user groups and configure each of your shares for use with CIFS, NFS, AFP, and FTP separately.

The device also supports a rather comprehensive logging feature and email notification. You can also have the MyBook World Edition II generate an SSL certificate, allowing you to access the device via https in a secure manner. And lastly, even technical users will not be disappointed, as you can also enable an SSH login. Power users with a Unix background will probably prefer this, as the Web interface does not load as quickly as it could, and does still have noticeable delays. This, however, is the case with most consumer-level NAS boxes we’ve seen.

Thecus N0204: Initial Setup Through a Setup Tool

Thecus has a different approach for setting up the N0204, as you need the Thecus Setup Wizard for the initial configuration of the NAS device. It is available for Mac OS X and for Windows. It takes care of installing the entire operating environment onto the N0204, as well as making all necessary settings, such as creating shares. Once the initial setup is complete, all other settings and options can be made through a Web interface. However, you can only change the RAID mode through the Thecus tool.

Comprehensive Configuration Tool

The Web-based interface is less intuitive than WD’s, but its advantage is a structural approach in menus that are sorted by configuration topics. Users who already administered a Thecus device before will immediately know where and how to get things done, as the key options like user management, share management, or email notification are similar on different Thecus NAS devices. The features and complexity are similar than on the Western Digital device.

Although the Thecus interface isn’t as chic as WD’s, it comes with a few more options that we consider very interesting. Thecus offers an iTunes server and a Mediabolic Media Server, but additionally includes a webcam server for surveillance and a print server module. Lastly, we also liked that the Thecus device's configuration interface loads faster than the MyBook's.

Many Thecus products can be upgraded by downloading and installing additional feature modules, which you can obtain on the Thecus Web site for free. We didn’t find add-ons for the N0204 at the time we reviewed it, but the note (coming soon) suggests that there’ll be more content in the future.

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