Acer Altos Easystore network-attached storage - Review

Acer Altos Easystore network-attached storage - Review

Share files and protect desktop PCs with this impressive device

A relative newcomer on the network-attached storage (Nas) scene, the Altos Easystore from Acer has a number of features to commend it.

To begin with it offers up to 2TB of Raid-protected storage that can be shared by Windows, Apple Mac and Linux users.

Added to which, it’s quick and easy to manage and comes with useful backup imaging software to protect Windows PCs on a small-business network.

The Altos Easystore appliance is a very compact device. Designed to sit on a desk or shelf, it has an on/off switch at the front, alongside a row of status LEDs, while at the back there’s a single Gigabit Ethernet port for network attachment. A couple of fans make sure everything stays cool but they’re not particularly noisy – no more than a desktop PC – so the device could be used in an open-plan office without special arrangements having to be made.

A single-board server running an embedded Linux OS provides the necessary motive power, with room alongside for four Sata disks mounted in hot-pluggable carriers, which simply slot into place at the front. The review unit came with four 500GB Seagate Barracudas fitted, giving an overall capacity of 2TB with a cheaper 1TB model (£549 ex Vat) with four 250GB drives also available. A pair of USB2 ports also enable other disks to be added should extra capacity be required.

The disks in the review unit were configured as a single linear volume but if required, you can choose from a variety of Raid configurations. The options here include Raid 0, where data is simply striped across all four disks, and Raid 10, where the disks are arranged as mirrored pairs. We went for Raid 5, where part of the space is used to store recovery information (to protect against a drive failure) and were impressed with the speed at which the array was built, the whole process taking just under five minutes.

A simple Windows-based console utility is then provided to locate the appliance plus there’s the usual web interface for monitoring and management, which we found very easy to navigate and understand.

Somewhat unusually, when you first configure the Altos the storage is divided into two areas. One for shared files, while the other is used to accommodate backups using the Falconstor Disksafe Express software provided. This can be installed on client Windows PCs to take automatic backups of their hard disk contents with facilities to recover individual files or even the complete disk image over the Lan, should problems arise. The amount of storage dedicated to each area can also be altered as and when required.

It all worked very well in our tests and we were very impressed by what the Altos Easystore had to offer. It’s not blazingly fast but quick enough for basic file sharing duties making it a good solution for the small business looking to avoid the cost and complexity of a general-purpose file server. The backup software, too, worked well with the remote boot and recovery facilities particularly impressive, although you may need to purchase extra Disksafe licences as only two are included as standard.

And don’t be put off by the price. We found the Altos Easystore advertised online for a lot less than the price quoted by Acer, making it competitive with other Nas products offering this kind of capacity and feature set.