Seagate's new NAS boxes have up to six bays, 30TB

Seagate has completely revamped its lineup of network-attached storage (NAS) devices aimed at businesses. This marks the first time Seagate is getting into the NAS space "in a big way," according to senior product marketing manager Greg Falgiano, and there are two families on offer. The simply named NAS line is designed for up to 25 users, while the NAS Pro is appropriate for as many as 50. Both include two- and four-bay options, while the Pro adds a six-bay monster. Here's the big daddy:

The NAS and NAS Pro come in diskless configurations and loaded with Seagate's own NAS-specific hard drives. Tool-free bays abound, and Seagate claims even DIY setups can be up and running within just 10-15 minutes of unboxing. The OS is installed from internal flash storage, which apparently speeds the setup process. Also, Seagate's "SimplyRAID" redundancy scheme allows arrays to be accessed as they're being built. All the standard RAID flavors are supported, as well, but they can't be used until the array is fully initialized.

Pre-loaded versions of the NAS and NAS Pro are set to include 2TB, 4TB, or 5TB drives. They're tested for up to eight hours before leaving the factory (the number of bays and total capacity determine the actual testing time), which should cut down on DOA drives. Seagate also offers an advanced replacement program for fatalities that occur within the three-year warranty period.

The standard boxes are powered by an ARM-based duallie backed by 512MB of RAM, while the Pro variants have a more powerful dual-core Atom chip alongside 2GB of memory. Most of them have dual USB 3.0 ports in addition to dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks. The standard two-bay unit is limited to a single GigE jack, though. Also, all the standard versions lack the USB 2.0 connector available on the Pro. That port is really too slow for data transfers, but it can be combined with a thumb drive to act as a physical lock and key, providing a layer of physical security.

Seagate developed its own operating system for the new NAS machines. NAS OS 4 puts apps in a virtual sandbox, much like iOS, and Seagate says device updates won't break software compatibility. Third-party developers will be able to host applications separately or make them available through the official Seagate store.

Right now, the software selection includes antivirus and IP camera apps. Support for Amazon S3 and is included, and compatibility with ElephantDrive is in the works. Seagate expects five to eight more apps to be released within the next few months. Those apps will likely be business-focused utilities rather than, say, consumer-friendly BitTorrent clients. Third-party developers should be free to build whatever they want, though.

Seagate's Sdrive software provides "private cloud" functionality, allowing PC and Mac users to access the NAS over the Internet as if they were using a standard external drive. There's a web interface for remote configuration, plus the requisite apps for mobile devices. The mobile apps don't support media streaming, though. Files must be downloaded and decrypted before they can be accessed, which seems sensible given the target market. Decryption is handled by the mobile apps automatically.

The NAS and NAS Pro families span 25 different configurations, each with a different mix of bays and drives. Seagate hasn't finalized the pricing for a couple of the high-end Pro variants, but here's how the rest of the range looks:

  Diskless 1 x 2TB 2 x 2TB 2 x 4TB 2 x 5TB
NAS 2-bay $199 $299 $399 $499 $649
NAS Pro 2-bay $399 $499 $599 $799 $899
  Diskless 2 x 2TB 4 x 2TB 4 x 4TB 4 x 5TB
NAS 4-bay $399 $599 $799 $1299 $1499
NAS Pro 4-bay $699 $899 $1099 $1499 TBD
  Diskless 3 x 2TB 6 x 2TB 6 x 4TB 6 x 5TB
NAS Pro 6-bay $899 $1099 $1699 $2299 TBD

The standard versions are a fair bit cheaper, and they'll start shipping right away. Pre-orders the Pro units start today, but the products won't be available for 2-3 weeks. Seagate also plans to release NAS OS 4 as a free upgrade for the four- and eight-bay NAS devices it introduced last year.

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