As a standard enclosure, the IOCELL NetDisk SOLO NEWFAST is a contender with the gamut of USB2/eSATA enclosures. It’s a little pricier because of its added-value network connectivity — $55 currently at NewEgg — but it’s certainly worth considering.
Mac and Linux users will certainly want to do their research before purchasing one of these devices. I was disappointed to see that the Mac OS X driver support basically stops at 10.6.6 and the Linux driver support support stops at Linux 2.6.24. To their merit, though, they claim that volunteer developers are working on the open source Linux driver. However, the mailing list doesn’t work and there aren’t any instructions for downloading source, other than a Git repo that is behind an ssh login. According to the TRAC installation, the latest commit was three years ago.
Moreover, users with elaborate home or business network setups should probably avoid the IOCELL NetDisk line of products because NDAS and its proprietary LPX protocol do not act like traditional TCP/IP and might have problems routing. Really, I’m not convinced that the speed benefits of NDAS over LPX are worth the complexity and restrictions for a home user. No more sleep mode? Having to keep machines always with the same version of the NDAS software? The support page is full of questions and caveats.
Really, I feel that I have to grade these features separately. As a USB2/eSATA enclosure, the IOCELL NetDisk SOLO NEWFAST gets a 7/10. It’s on par with its competition, but doesn’t really have any quality to set it apart. As a “network attached storage” device, I give it a 5/10. I cannot recommend it, yet. There’s hope that it could improve, but users seeking the benefits of a network attached storage device should probably seek a more traditional file-level network storage system instead of this, a block-level storage protocol device. It also could be that the execution here has not convinced me that block-level network storage is ready for the home or small business user. I want it to work because it’s definitely cheaper, but the performance and simplicity just isn’t there.
Together, despite lots of promise, the aspects of this device are disappointing. There are other products out there which are more mature or better suited for most of the tasks the IOCELL NetDisk SOLO NEWFAST aims to handle. If IOCELL can produce a USB 3.0 and eSATA III revision of this unit, and increase the ease of connecting via Ethernet, it could do better. ThinkComputers gives the IOCELL NETDISK Hard Drive Enclosure a 6 out of 10 score.
- Multiple connectivity options
- Respectable throughput
- Direct Ethernet excellent for older computers
- By design, not easily compromised
- Operating system support wide
- Network access requires proprietary software installation
- No up-to-date drivers for Mac OS X and Linux, despite claiming support
- By design, NDAS may be relying on security through obscurity
- Lack of USB3 and eSATA III might be limiting for some users
Colin Dean has been a writer for ThinkComputers since 2006.
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