Micronet Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk


Micronet Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDiskThe MDN1000 is but one of a series of network-attached devices in the Micronet Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk line, offering users an inexpensive 1TB-storage alternative for their home or office networks. Though its transfer speeds put it well within the middle range of its category, this NAS device makes up for this lackluster performance with loads of useable features, which include RAID configurability and DHCP, as well as the capacities to serve as a print and iTunes server.

Consisting of a pair of drives each capable of storing up to 500GB worth of content, the MegaDisk is housed in an aluminum enclosure of 8.4 by 4.6 by 2.6 inches, and weighs almost seven pounds. Out in front is a grill backlit by blue and red lights, each denoting the power status and activity status of the device, respectively. Going around from the here to the back, users will find a single Gigabit Ethernet port along with a couple of USB ports and the requisite power switch. USB storage devices can be plugged to either of the two corresponding ports to easily transfer their contents onto the drives. With every MegaDisk package comes an Ethernet cable and power supply adapter, a soft manual in the form of a CD, plus the NTI Shadow backup utility software.

The drives, 7,200rpm Hitachi Deskstars, connect to the enclosure via a SATA2-NCQ controller. Each one can be set to either RAID Level 0 or Level 1. With the former, users get the full 1TB for storage use, while the latter configuration may be employed in case additional data security is needed. RAID 1 is characterized by a redundancy feature that mirrors the data in one drive to the other, but the tradeoff for this is that the useable storage capacity will be halved.

Connecting the MegaDisk to the network is quite easy. This is accomplished by hooking it up to the network router and power supply, with the host PC being able to identify the device as a Universal Plug and Play gadget. As such, an icon will show up in the PC to represent the MegaDisk, which when clicked will direct the user to a Network Disk Administrator browser. Here, the user will be prompted to enter a username plus a password, and upon doing so the browser then leads to the utility’s main menu. A trio of three tabs here contains a bewildering host of submenus. Unfortunately, though, the manufacturers neglected to add a help option to these, which could pose problems for beginners who have just begun to dabble in networking technology. Even if Micronet itself claims that their product is very user-friendly, a good help menu can do wonders for getting the novice up to speed with the device’s multi-functionalities. A tips section would certainly be a welcome addition to the network management interface.

One of the tabs, the Basic tab, contains a wizard for language setup, establishing passwords, naming the NAS server, and adjusting the IP settings. From this tab the administrator may also create usernames and individual passwords for the drive’s client users, and even set storage limits per client. User groups may also be established here. Rules for sharing, such as those for FTP, SMB and NFS protocols are also set using the Basics tab.

The next tab is called the Control Panel tab and contains a menu subdirectory for viewing and administering all the accounts of users and groups using the drive, and it is here where print sharing is enabled as well. A great feature of the device is that it allows the allocation of a storage limit for any guest account. The same guest can be allowed or disallowed access with just one click. A System screen manages LAN settings like IP and DNS, as well as disk usage. Parameters for e-mail and popup alerts that serve to notify users of errors can also be set using the System page. Having the drive function in DHCP server mode is done at the Network Services area of the page. The section also features BitTorrent controls, including those for setting upload and download limits.

Fans of iTunes will appreciate MegaDisk’s easy network-wide iTunes music sharing. This is enabled via the Bonjour tab, also found in Network Services. Clicking the tab will present two boxes, one each for Bonjour and iTunes, which the user simply ticks and iTunes sharing will then become possible. In the locally-installed iTunes app, the drive will appear under the Shared library. Its presence here means that its iTunes music content may be played in the local iTunes just like its regular files.

There is a Maintenance menu as well which contains the helpful Disk Utility for drive formatting and file-system management. A Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, or SMART, test may be conducted here to query the system about disk status. Configuring the RAID settings is done using a RAID Utility, which also allows this function in docked external drives in the USB port. Finally, there is a Log File that keeps track of the activities in the System tab and Administration, plus those in Windows File Server, FTP and DHCP.

Performance-wise, don’t expect the MegaDisk to win any awards. Testing showed that it can write 10GB worth of mixed media content in 18 minutes, 52 seconds. Reading the same folder required 12 minutes, 18 seconds. These speeds, in general, place the MDN1000 right smack in the middle in the performance criteria when faced off with other NAS products in the market.

Brushing aside its ho-hum speed performance and confusing interface controls, the MegadDisk MDN1000 is not a bad choice at all for those with tighter budgets, in that it pairs a decent network storage capacity with a comprehensive suite of network administration controls, all under a reasonably-priced product.

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