by Andrey Kuznetcov
06/13/2005 | 05:19 PM
I believe that some of you may remember the product by Quantum called Snap Server. This device was designed for network data storage purposes and was none other but a RAID array, which the user would manage via the software interface. The solution looked very much like a black consumer video recorder or a DVD player.
Well, it looks like that particular device appeared a stimulus for the Maxtor engineers to start working on a solution with similar functionality to that of the above mentioned Snap Server. I would also suggest that we keep in mind the fact that Maxtor acquired Quantum storage division some time ago.
So, today I would like to introduce to you a solution belonging to the Network Storage product family from Maxtor – 200GB Maxtor Shared Storage Drive (H01P200)
As you may have guessed from the name of this device the key words there define its major application. According to the info available in the manufacturer’s official web-site, the drive is designed to be used in small home and office networks based on TCP/IP protocol. It will be a good storage solution for family photos, music, videos, databases, and other types of information, which can be useful for multiple users working in the network simultaneously.
The preparatory work before setting this drive in operation is fairly simple due to the supplied CD disk with the software called Quick Start CD. Once you have installed the software and configured the device, which is done automatically, the user sees an icon on the desktop symbolizing one more hard disk drive: this is how the user sees this network storage device. By clicking onto this icon the user can access the general and private data from the storage device in no time.
The user’s everyday life becomes much simpler due to the brand name Drag and Sort mode. In reality it means that when you drag the files onto the desktop icon symbolizing the network storage, they get automatically sorted out according to their type. As a result, the user’s files get distributed between the folders dedicated to music, videos, photos and data without any additional effort on the user’s part. Simple and intuitive WEB-interface makes it easy to assign access rights to one or all the folders on the network storage device.
In terms of the exterior design, the drive looks very similar to all other Maxtor external hard drives. Silver gray case is made of aluminum, which is ore reliable than plastic. The device can be set vertically and horizontally, it doesn’t affect its operational parameters. It is supplied with a special stand holding it firmly in vertical position. The Power On button on the front panel is combined with the status LED. There is also a thin metal grid on the front panel of the drive intended to provide better cooling of the HDD inside. The back panel of the case carries a power supply connector, an RJ-45 network port, a fan and two USB ports.
Now let’s take a closer look at the technical features of the drive we have here. The network storage solutions family discussed consists of two models: one with 200GB storage capacity (the one we had in our lab) and one with 300GB storage capacity. The buffer is 8MB big (16MB for the 300GB model), and the spindle rotation speed is 7,200rpm. The manufacturer claims that the average seek time equals 9ms max. Ethernet 100Base-T/10Base-T network interface is far not the top of the line network interface anymore gives us some reason to believe that Maxtor is trying to create a sort of artificial marketing here, so that the next generation model coming out later could differ from the current one only by the Gigabit network controller. The availability of two USB 2.0 ports allows connecting two printers or two external storage devices (or a one-of-each combination) to our Shared Storage Drive. The solution works normally in the room temperature between 5 and 35oC. Its size is relatively small: 41x140x271mm with the weight of only 1.7kg.
Besides the vertical stand mentioned above, the drive is also supplied with the external PSU and a power cable, interface cable, user’s manual and warranty agreement.
The drive is currently selling for about $300.
We tested this solution with our brand name FC-Test 1.0 utility. You can read more about this testing tool in our article called X-bit's FC-Test 1.0 or "System Rebooted".
The testbed was configured as follows:
During our tests we connected the device to the 3com controller integrated onto the mainboard.
Keeping in mind that this drive features pretty specific application, we decided to test it according to a much simpler scenario, which would reveal its peculiar features. We were aiming at finding out how fast the files could be copied to and read from this storage device, which is exactly the type of work Maxtor designed its device for. That is why we limited the number of tests carried out by FC-Test. All the other testing techniques remained the same: we had five patterns differing by the number and size of the files they contain.
The first diagram shows the file write (create) speed. We see that the drive performs pretty slowly during this type of tasks. When it works with the patterns containing few larger files the write speed is hardly above 5MB/s. When we switch to the other two patterns consisting of a large number of smaller files, the rate drops down to 1MB/s max.
The second diagram shows how fast the drive can actually read data. Unfortunately, there is nothing to boast here as well. The maximum read speed our drive demonstrated in this test reaches only 7MB/s, which can hardly be considered an impressive result. In case of the two patterns working with a lot of small files the read speed drops down dramatically.
The appearance of the special external networking storage device designed for small local networks is a truly curious occasion. Of course, a device of the kind that allows storing data for multiple users, and even transporting this data to another location will definitely find its fans. The design and functionality of the new drive are remarkable. No questions asked here. We were a little bit surprised to see that it uses far not the fastest network interface. The artificial limitation of the data transfer rate to 100Mbit/s makes the drive used inside this storage device absolutely unable to take advantage of its speed potential.
As a result, the drive performed on a pretty mediocre level throughout our test session. Of course, there still exist local networks using 100Base-T interface, but they are very few, and Gigabit controllers are not that much more expensive than their predecessors, especially since most mainboards have them already integrated.
From this viewpoint, the only reason for launching a device with morally outdated interface combined with a potentially fast hard disk drive can only be the manufacturer’s intention to later launch new “enhanced” product, which we have already mentioned in the beginning of our article. Although, the advanced newcomer will definitely cost more than the current solution, which is no good for the end-user. Anyway, we’ll see :)