There's no redundancy, but Seagate's Central is a relatively cheap and easy way to backup your data, argues Krishan Sharma. He explains why he is a fan.
There are many different storage options out there for anyone looking to set up a centralised and automated backup, ranging from NAS boxes, dedicated servers to cloud storage.
But what if you need a cheap and simple storage solution without all of the extra bells and whistles?
Products like the Seagate Central come to mind, as I was installing one just the other day for a non-tech savvy family member. I couldn’t believe how much of a breeze it was to set up and get going.
Be warned: one drive means no failover or redundancy. For this, you're better off going for a dedicated NAS built for this purpose, as we explain below. Instead, the Central is marketed as a device for all the family - a way to organise your "digital life" and share your movies and photos to computers around the house. But if you're looking for a way to do this, as well as backup your files, then this might be a basic option for some people.
Starting from $199 for the 2TB model to $299 for the 4TB variant, the Seagate Central is relatively cheap too, particularly when you compare the costs involved in purchasing a dedicated NAS box and the accompanying hard disks.
You do, however, miss out on some key features and performance if you do decide to go with a product like the Seagate Central over a dedicated NAS machine including:
- Slow transfer speeds. The read and write times is nowhere near as quick as what a dedicated NAS machine such as a Synology Diskstation or QNAP offers. This means that backing up large chunks of data will be a relatively slow exercise
- No option of expanding the storage. If you buy a 2TB model, then you're stuck with that storage capacity. If you fill it up, you will need to purchase another Seagate Central. You won’t come across this problem on a NAS box where you can expand the storage either by using the internal HDD bays or the USB ports.
- One drive means no failover or redundancy. This means that if the drive inside the Central fails, you will lose all your data.
- No app store to expand the functionality. NAS boxes like the Synology offer App stores where you can download and install useful applications that go beyond the realm of simply backing up data. You won’t find that here.
- No option of queuing up and downloading files from other servers or websites.
Setup literally consisted of connecting a network cable from my router to the back of the Central product and waiting for the status LED to illuminate a solid green glow which took about a minute.
At this point, the Seagate showed up as a network folder on my PC and Mac where I could then drag and drop files over the home network. That’s it. You’re done.
No administrator page to fumble through and no settings to configure.
To set up automated backups, I launched the bundled Seagate Dashboard application on Windows and nominated how often I would like the backup to kick in. Likewise on my Mac, I just launched OSX’s default backup application, Time Machine.
The Seagate will even automatically backup photos and videos uploaded to social media websites such as Facebook, which is feature that I personally haven’t come across on any other network storage product.
I also found that setting up remote access and user accounts was a very simple process, with a “getting started” guide walking you through the steps. This involved enabling one or two checkboxes and typing in the desired username and password.
Once that was set up I could access/send data stored on the Seagate from anywhere by either launching a web browser and going to access.seagate.com or firing up the dedicated apps on my Android or iOS device.