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Western Digital ShareSpace 4TB NAS box

NAS for the non-geek?

You can feel the air the WD fan is blowing out, but it wasn't particularly warm, even 90 per cent of the way through a 10GB file copy over to the drive array. The drives in the test unit were four WD 3.5in GreenPower-branded HDDs, which each consume a mere 13.5W when running flat out at 5400rpm. The ShareSpace's upper surface remained cool to the touch.

We should say, though, that WD's literature makes no statement on what drives will be included in shipping units other than their capacity.

Instead of a front-facing hatch that flips open to reveal the storage bay, as per the ReadyNAS, the ShareSpace has a pair of hand-turnable screws on the back that, when undone, allow you to lift off the cover and expose the drives. You don't have to disassemble it quite as much as you do the WE II.

WD ShareSpace

Lift the lid to reveal the removable HDDs

The drives themselves are slotted horizontally, one above the other, facing out of the unit's side. Each tightly-fitted disk is slotted into a green frame, the front of which you use to pull it out.

The four drives are initially configured in a RAID 5 array, though the ShareSpace's management utility allows you to choose alternatives: JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 - respectively, present a single, contiguous storage space; stripe data across all four drives; and mirror the contents of two disks onto the other two.

RAID 5, the default, stripes data across three disks, and saves extra parity information on the fourth one to give a degree of fault tolerance. If a drive fails, it can be repopulated using the parity data. With four 1TB drives on board you end up with 2.68TB of available storage capacity.

Since it's web-based, the management utility is entirely cross-platform, as are the CIFS, FTP and NFS protocols the ShareSpace uses for sharing its folders. The console provides all the essential features you'd need from a multi-user storage box: disk control and configuration; user and group management; the creation and allocation to users and groups of shared folders; and the ability to impose space quotas to individuals and groups.