First Impressions of the Seagate Business Storage Windows Server

I have an old friend with a small CPA business, She was looking for a way to centralize her file storage for Intuit's ProSeries tax software. I initially suggested a basic NAS, but Intuit support gave that idea a thumbs down. They were concerned that performance issues might cause problems for the network version of the software. While I thought they were over-generalizing, there is in fact a wide variation in the quality and speed of NAS units.

Intuit does support a Windows server for file storage with ProSries, but my friend was not excited about the care, feeding, and expense involved with a full server. As such, I did a search for alternatives. My search resulted in finding the Seagate Business Storage Windows Server. This is a self-contained NAS, based on Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2012. The unit has 4 bays, and is available in capacities ranging from 4 to 16 TB. The hardware includes a dual core Intel Atom processor, with 4 GB of RAM. It also includes a USM slot for an optional backup device. It ships with RAID 5 pre-configured.

To configure the unit, I had to connect a VGA monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Windows proceeded with the usual initialization questions, and unit was operational a few minutes later. Once configured, it can be managed via a remote desktop connection.

Out of the box, the unit has two partitions - a smaller one for the OS, and the bulk of the storage in a second. It also includes a Seagate management app, which provides information on the health of the unit, including internal temperature, errors, etc. The software can be configured to email someone with status updates.

I setup local users for the folks using it, plus myself for testing purposes (it will also coordinate with a domain controller). I then setup the folders required for ProSeries, and did the installation of that software. Once installed, we imported a test return without issues. I then enabled BitLocker on the data drive to provide encryption appropriate to customer accounting data.

While I was not able to find large number of reviews on the NAS, I did find enough to make me comfortable. I did however find a very good analysis including comparable benchmarks at TweakTown. The performance is comparable to a number of the good UNIX-based NAS devices, better at certain workloads than some, worse with others. Overall, the numbers were strong.

Overall, I was very pleased with the product. The downside is pricing, which is considerably higher than many of the UNIX NAS products with the same storage capacity. When Windows compatibility is required however, it is an economical way to get a Windows server, with less operational overhead.

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