Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220

Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220

Two-bay NAS box

The Seagate NAS 220 impressed me before I even had a chance to take it out of the box. Officially the recommended retail price for the 2TB version is $527 in New Zealand, however at the time of writing it could be found on at least one reputable online retailer’s website for a meagre $409. Considering that this model packs two excellent Seagate 1TB 7200.12 hard drives which sell for about $145 each, that effectively makes the cost of the NAS box itself a whisker under $120 on top of the price of the disks. Bargain!

It is no spring chicken though – in fact we reviewed this very model back in an external drive roundup featured in the May 2010 issue of NZ PC World. This would explain the lack of any mobile apps or ‘Cloud Access’ features, although surely some could have been developed by Seagate and added as a firmware update?

After wading through remote access issues with the last few NAS drives, I decided to get that out of the way first and was rewarded with another barrage of issues. Setting up access involved registering an account on Seagate’s Global Access website. After first submitting my name and email address on the online form, I received the message: ‘Service unavailable, please try again later’.

Being a masochist I tried registering several more times but got the same error each time – however one of the attempts must have been successful as a welcome email popped up in my inbox, with a link to click on to give me remote access to the NAS 220. Several homicide-inducing error messages later I (perhaps by accident) did manage to remotely connect to the drive. Joy of joys! That’s when I slammed face-first into our old friend, New Zealand’s pitiful broadband. Attempts at downloading a 6MB file timed out twice, and even uploading a tiny 13K document failed somehow. Another remote access write-off.

Moving on, accessing my files and media over my wi-fi network worked fine. Even my Xbox 360 was happy to stream videos and audio off the NAS 220. Access speeds for file transfers were not as fast as the other NAS drives, but given the price of the unit I am more than willing to forgive it.

The backup software supplied with all BlackArmor drives, creatively named BlackArmor Backup, is excellent. Most NAS drives come with some sort of PC backup abilities but BlackArmor Backup genuinely has the most options in terms of scheduling, PC/drive/folder selection, compression, encryption etc as well as being insanely easy to use – which is important for me because I have almost zero patience for backing up my data.

As if Seagate were paying homage to people as lazy as me, the first window that pops up after installing the backup software gives you the option of pushing just one button which will then backup the system volume and Master Boot Record of your PC, with an incremental backup scheduled once a week thereafter. Wonderful.

So even though the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220 lacks some of the latest bells and whistles, I can highly recommend it as a home NAS drive, albeit with one minor caveat – opt for the 4TB version instead for a couple of hundred dollars extra, as the extra space will be easy to chew up for most users.

Seagate is distributed in New Zealand by Westcon, VST, and Ingram Micro.

This review first appeared in the May issue of PC World magazine.

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