The Sentinel DX4000 is supposed to be easy to set up. Let’s see if that’s really so. The NAS’s system requirements include a DHCP server on the LAN you connect it to, and one Windows XP or higher computer for initial configuring. Later on, the NAS can be used by Mac OS clients as well. Internet access is necessary to update its OS.
It takes about three minutes for the NAS to initialize its OS and get ready to work after first turning on. When its display shows its IP address, you can proceed to step 2 which involves running a setup wizard in your web browser.
The wizard will help you choose the NAS’s language, regional settings, date and time (copied from the PC), accept the license agreement, name the NAS (you won't be able to change the name afterwards), enter an admin password (a complex password is required) with a hint, and choose an update mode. Then, the NAS initializes its system settings and HDDs, which took about 1 more hour and a few reboots in our case. You can monitor the procedure using the browser or the NAS’s own display. Interestingly, the fan was always working at its full speed throughout that process and only slowed down after it was complete.
Although modern versions of Windows have advanced networking and backup features, you must install a special utility to client PCs to make full use of Windows Storage Server. The same utility can also be used to administer the NAS. So, you again have to launch your browser to access the server and download and install the Computer Connector tool.
There is a dedicated screen in Computer Connector to define the server’s own parameters: date and time, OS boot-up and update settings, regional parameters, multimedia server status, homegroup or domain, and browser-based remote access. You can also reboot or shut the NAS down from here. Turning off can also be done with the front-panel button. A single short press is enough, which seems to be a downside in the NAS’s design. As for updates, the NAS’s software consists of two parts, the main OS and WD's add-ons (for monitoring and other features), so there are two independent lines of updates.
The multimedia server is rather an unexpected feature considering the NAS’s market positioning. You can choose shared folders to index and set up the video transcoding option (there are Haali Splitter and Xiph.org codecs installed in the system) but it’s rather hard to comprehend how all of this works together. The multi-page and outdated online documentation makes it even more confusing. We can only add that the multimedia server does work with “right” formats and the WMP player (also with the Xbox 360).
The remote internet access means using Internet Explorer and HTTPS (the port number cannot be changed) to access documents stored on the NAS, view multimedia files and even have a full remote desktop for every local Windows machine running the WSS client software. You can also access the server’s admin console remotely. Since encryption is used, you need to make the certificates work to enable the latter feature, which may be difficult for inexperienced users. But the result is worth the trouble. Besides user access, this feature can be utilized to manage remote offices.
Compared to installing a full-featured server OS, the DX4000 is much simpler to get up and running. However, modern NASes are generally as easy to set up. They even take less time considering the long load time of the DX4000’s admin panel and other slowdowns during elementary operations.