- Average throughput speeds
- Solid build and design
- 3TB drives = lots of storage
- New 3TB drives are loud
- Constant 25W power draw
- A bit pricey
The BlackArmor NAS 220 provides middling throughput and big storage - with a pricetag to match.
Seagate has been producing the BlackArmor line for some time, now. Despite being officially aimed at the small business segment of the market, BlackArmor has found some degree of popularity outside of the business world. Seagate recently relaunched the brand with the introduction of their new 3TB hard drive – are they worth another look? Read on for our full review.
- Drive bays: 2
- Capacity: 6TB (as configured), 2.7 ~ 5.4TB when formatted
- Drive standard: SATA II
- Network protocols: NFS, HTTP/S, FTP, CIFS, Microsoft RALLY, Apple Bonjour
- RAID Support: RAID 0, 1, JBOD (Span)
- Dimensions: 7.79 x 4.09 x 7.4 inches (HxWxD)
- Weight: 6.6lb
- Warranty: Two-year limited parts and labor
- Model number: STAV6000100
The Seagate BlackArmor 220 is available in three different configurations at three different price points. With two 1TB drives, the unit costs $329.99, with two 2TB drives, the unit runs $529.99 and with the two flagship 3TB drives, the BlackArmor 220 costs $649.99.
What’s in the box:
- Seagate BlackArmor 220 NAS unit
- 2 x 3TB Barracuda XT drives (preinstalled)
- BlackArmor 220 power adapter
- Ethernet cable
Build and design
The BlackArmor NAS 220 is decidedly more stylish than its bigger brother, the BlackArmor NAS 420 (which is the same unit as the 400 and 440; the model number varies depending on the number of included drives). While it’s still firmly part of Seagate’s small business efforts, the company has come to realize that buyers, regardless of their market, respond well to good design.
In this case, they’ve moved in the right direction. The 220 is a sleek, simple unit – even though it uses the same software and some of the same components of the higher-end NAS units, it only comes with two drive bays. That means it takes up significantly less room than some of the other options.
The front of the unit has a glossy black faceplace, with the Seagate logo and power button. Each side is blank, while the reverse offers a single Gigabit Ethernet port as well as two USB ports.
Despite the fact that the hard drives are locked away, safely ensconced behind a few screws, Seagate maintains that the two drives are user-accessible. Unscrew the main unit, pop out a pre-installed drive and it’s off to the horses.
Software and interface
For small businesses, the BlackArmor NAS 220 seems like a reasonable alternative to the BlackArmor NAS 400/420/440. The software and capabilities remain almost entirely the same (Seagate has a great table outlining all of the differences here) – it’s just a smaller device. The operating system running the BlackArmor units is a custom variant of Linux (and like almost any Linux installation, it can be hacked to offer extra functionality).
Considering the target market and consumer interest, Seagate has gone to great lengths to make the devices both usable and useful. The current iteration of the BlackArmor NAS firmwares includes support for things like iTunes sharing, DLNA support, Active Directory (for use with Microsoft Windows Server) and also web server support.
Users who don’t wish to pay an extra ISP fee for a static IP address can sign up with services like DynDNS or No-IP, then log into those accounts via the BlackArmor web interface. The BlackArmor can also serve up files remotely or, interestingly enough, be a wiki server thanks to the pre-installed software.
To access the BlackArmor, customers just plug it into the network, either to a router or switch. An included CD installs any requisite drivers as well as the BlackArmor management, discovery and backup softwares. Note: the default login and password for the NAS are admin / admin – it’s worth pointing out here since Seagate buried it in a manual.
(More pictures of the web interface can be viewed in our gallery)
Of all the different parts of the BlackArmor interface, the backup and restore features are the easiest to use and most easily understood. That’s probably because they appear to be special rebadges of Acronis’ TrueImage software. The BlackArmor NAS 220 comes with five licenses to install the software on five different Windows PCs.
Additionally, the CD can be left in the computer and used as a Linux boot disc. The backup/recovery software pops up, and it continues essentially the same as it did with the Windows version. Users can choose from whole disk backups via the creation of a disk image, or they select from individual files or folders.
In an attempt to save further storage space, the BlackArmor software can compress the files as it goes, applying one of four different levels of compression. It’s a feature that not too many other NAS devices offer.
The rest of the BlackArmor software is comprised mostly of the unit’s built-in web interface. While it’s certainly attractive and most functions are easy enough to find, when taken as a whole, the interface is somewhat lacking.
Since this is aimed at the (pretty) small business market, it would behoove Seagate to work on making these devices as easy to use and configure as possible. Many of these small offices work on a budget and may not have or be able to afford much in the way of dedicated IT support.
The interface is divided into five main sections: System, Network, Storage, Access and Media, which are largely self-explanatory. One aspect of the software which was really handy was the extent to which Seagate detailed information about the system and drives. While some parts of the interface may be a bit confusing at first, chances are good that users won’t pine for any lack of information.
A lot of the BlackArmor’s features have been mentioned – built-in webserver, iTunes/DLNA libraries, wiki server, remote access, etc. The other big switch that the web interface controls is the level of RAID currently being used. RAID 0 means that data is striped across multiple physical drives; it’s typically faster but the least secure since if one drive dies, so do the rest.
RAID 1 mirrors the data stored on one drive onto another, similar drive. It adds additional security via redundancy – if one drive goes, the other has the same data). The BlackArmor NAS 220 ships with RAID 1 enabled by default.
The third, and least commonly used, option is something called Span. The rest of the industry calls this system of disk management JBOD, or Just a Bunch of Disks. It doesn’t provide any necessary storage or speed benefits, but simply results in both drives appearing as a single unit to the operating system.
Many competing NAS devices often take a substantial amount of time to switch between these modes. The BlackArmor certainly is no exception, but at roughly 45 minutes, it managed to do better than most. One caveat against switching, however, is that transitioning from mode to mode wipes any data that was being stored.