The NAS has two USB 2.0 and one eSATA port. Besides UPSes, you can connect external storage devices and printers to it. External drives may have a FAT32, EXT3 or NTFS file-system (writing to NTFS is supported). You cannot change access rights via network. Full access is provided by default. Unfortunately, the current version of the NAS’s firmware has obvious problems with external drives. It can only work with one drive at a time, does not support multiple partitions on external drives, and cannot connect to them via USB hubs. A HDD connected via eSATA did not work with the NAS at all. It was all right with printers – the connection was unidirectional, as usual.
The NAS’s basic functionality is implemented in its core firmware. Extra services are implemented as plugins. As we have written above, the default plugins are an iTunes server, a DNLA server and a download manager.
The iTunes server is implemented with the Firefly program. Its interface is available at http://ns4600:3689 but the default access rights to its configuration files won’t allow changing the latter. The program can index all standard file types.
The UPnP/DLNA server is based on software from Fuppes. It indexes the integrated folders called MUSIC, PICTURE and VIDEO. The server supports most of modern multimedia file formats (JPG, GIF, TIF, BMP, PNG, MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, MPC, WAV, AVI, MPEG, MP4, MKV, WMV, M2TS, MOV, MP4), but it is up to the client to play them.
The multimedia library can also be accessed via a web-browser (the Media Center feature). In this case you don’t have to have a DLNA client on your PC, but you will need a player and codecs. The browser proper can only be used for viewing photos. Like with the photo album, the purpose of this feature evades us because you can instead browse files from the network disk whereas the option of sorting of music by tags is hardly an advantage.
The last default plug-in is the MLDonkey client that can download files via FTP, HTTP, BitTorrent and Emule protocols. This is a popular program, and it is good that it supports Emule and third-party management interfaces (e.g. sancho). However, it is not perfect when it comes to torrents. Its interface is rather too sophisticated and offers a number of adjustable parameters (which are not set up optimally by default). Thus, beginner users may find it difficult to use MLDonkey effectively. Some trackers prohibit this client. Still, it is usable and does its job just fine at up to 20 tasks. The CPU and memory usage is no higher than 20-40% then. There are no settings pertaining to the seeding of the downloaded files. A download is being seeded until removed from the queue.
Unfortunately, the NS4600 does not support browser-based file access. Some users may also miss a web-server. So, despite the good DLNA server and potentially good download manager, the NS4600 is not perfect in terms of extra features.