Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/08/akasa_intergral_p2_lan/

Akasa Integral P2 LAN

Easy to use networked storage

By Lars-Göran Nilsson

Posted in Hardware, 8th September 2006 15:53 GMT

Review Network attached storage – or NAS as it’s widely known – isn’t the easiest thing to set up, but it can be very useful, especially if you want to be able to share data between several computers in an easy and affordable manner. Enter NDAS - Network Direct Attached Storage – a much simpler way of getting shared storage onto your network. The Akasa Integral P2 LAN is one of the first products to hit the UK market, but will it live up to the promises of NDAS?

The Integral P2 LAN is a DIY solution, so you have to bring your own hard drive. This means that it’s fairly affordable and you’re in control of how much storage you want to fit. It’s also easy to upgrade the drive later on. The EPN2NDAS is available in three colours, black, blue or silver. It looks like any ordinary external 3.5in hard drive case at first inspection, but with the difference of having an Ethernet connect at the rear as well as a USB 2.0 connector. There’s also a power switch and a power connector for the supplied power brick around the back.

All this is rather basic stuff, but you don’t normally get NAS enclosures with USB connectors that allow you to directly attach them to a host computer. This is the first advantage NDAS has over NAS, you can use it with any computer that supports USB storage devices without any drivers or a network. This is because the hard drive inside the NDAS enclosure doesn’t use a proprietary file system like most NAS devices. Instead it uses FAT32 or NTFS depending on how you format the hard drive once installed.

Fitting a hard drive inside the Integral P2 LAN is a matter of removing two screws, opening the drive case, fitting the hard drive, attach the IDE and power cables, bung it back in the box and off you go. Two things here though, first of all I would’ve liked to have seen a SATA connector internally, as it would make it much easier to fit the drive. Secondly, there is a cable that runs to the front of the case which power the logo on the front of it, this gets snagged quite easily and can easily get cut if you’re not careful when you install the drive.

Akasa_NDAS

Installing the drive on a network is simply a matter of plugging in a network cable and installing the supplied drivers on the CD. Akasa supplies drivers for both PC and Mac and it is just as easy to install on either platform. Once the software is installed you have to launch the NDAS application and enter two codes. The first one finds the drive on the network and makes it appear as another hard drive in your system, while the second code gives you write access to the drive.

It’s by far the easiest way of setting up a networked hard drive, but Ximeta, the company behind NDAS also claims much better performance compared to traditional NAS devices due to less overheads and more direct access to the data. To be honest, I didn’t have a NAS drive to compare with, but NDAS is still slow compared to connecting up the Integral P2 LAN over USB. But judging from past experiences with NAS devices, it seemed like NDAS was zippier when copying large amounts of data.

Another advantage NDAS has is that you can attach two or more drives to your network and create a RAID array, which is useful if you need data security. This is something you can’t do with a single drive NAS device, so you would have to invest in a more expensive device straight away.

Simplicity is the beauty of NDAS and as long as you don’t mind fitting your own hard drive. Although this is the first NDAS product I’ve encountered, I’m already converted. Hopefully Ximeta will bring out Linux support in the future for NDAS, but currently this is only for Windows and Mac users. Price wise the Integral P2 LAN should set you back around £54 inc VAT, which is fairly reasonable for what you get for your money.

Verdict

A simple to use network attached storage device, something you don’t find every day. NDAS is the way to go if you want an easy to use networkable storage device that you can also use away from a network environment.®