Home > storage > Netgear Stora Review Part 1 – Hardware and Setup

Netgear Stora Review Part 1 – Hardware and Setup

The Netgear Stora is a new breed of home Network Attached Storage. Where past NAS devices have added a multitude of streaming and sharing options, the Stora is a simplified device targeting ease of use and home/internet access to shared media and files. There are some inspired and strange design choices in the device, but first some unboxing and hardware thoughts.

The model of Stora I bought is the MS2105, containing one 500Gb hard drive. This was offered for a short time by Dabs.com for £69.95, quite a bargain considering the cheapest 500Gb hard drive was £35. This particular model seems to be a UK only option, as netgear.com only lists the MS2110 (1Tb) and MS2120 (2Tb).

Netgear make some big claims for the Stora, from Hot-Swappable drive bays to online sharing and media streaming.

The basics are provided in the box, with the Stora, Power Supply, Network Cable, Setup Cd and guide.

The Stora is an atractive little device measuring 6 inches (150mm) wide and high by 7 inches (175mm) deep. Front and sides are a gloss plastic while the top and back are matt plastic. Build quality is fine for the price, no solid metal case here but for home use stuck on a shelf or in a cupboard it’s acceptable.

On top of the Stora is a plastic grille with a 60mm fan sucking air from beneath the unit through the case and out the top. This isn’t the best of places to put a fan due to the risk of dropping liquid or small objects into the case.

Connection wise the Stora is as simple as it gets. Power socket for the 12V 5A dc PSU, Gigabit Ethernet socket, reset and power on/off. The two levers in the top half of the case pull down to eject the two hard drives once the front cover has been removed.

Front cover removed to reveal the two hard drive bays. Indicator LED’s in the middle for power and disk activity are joined by a lone USB socket.

Pull the lever down on the rear of the Stora and the hard drive slide out.

A Western Digital WD5000AADS hard drive was supplied with the Stora, with a spec of 500 GB, 32 MB Cache and a SATA 3 Gb/s interface.  I’ve tried to find the rotation speed of this drive but even the Western Digital technical PDF lists this as ‘Intellipower’.  The speed isn’t that relevant as any current hard drive will easily read and write faster than the Stora’s processor and network interface can manage, but it’s still a shame that technical specs are dictated by the marketing department.

This is the back of the removable front plate. It’s plastic, but remember that this device is aimed at home file and media serving/sharing. Netgear have the higher featured and better built ReadyNAS range for more demanding use. A plastic front plate isn’t a problem when it’s only removed to swap hard drives.

Overall the build of the Stora is perfectly acceptable for a cheap and easy to use consumer level device. I would like to see the fan on the back of the box rather than the top, but that would require vents on the front to allow straight through air flow, possibly raising the price and introducing more complexity.

Setting up the Stora is straightforward for a NAS, but the device has some unusual quirks if you are used to a standard NAS accessed over the local network. All setup was done on my main hackintosh, and the Stora offers Macintosh and Windows setup packages. There’s some angry debate in the Netgear forums over the level of Linux support as the initial specification suggested Linux setup software which does not so far exist. Inserting the setup CD launches a Finder window with the Stora Setup application and a simple instruction for starting the process.

Two choices here, setting up the Stora and installing the desktop tools. The Mac version of the tools on the supplied CD is not Snow Leopard compatible, but a newer version can be downloaded from Netgear.com.

Next agree to the standard lengthy End User License Agreement, which everyone reads in full.

Now the real setup begins. A product key is supplied with the Stora which is entered here, along with a unique name for the Stora. This name identifies your Stora from ‘all other Storas’ as the instructions say, so common names like media server are long gone.

The registration process took less than a minute.

Out of the box the Stora allows three user accounts, one of which must be an administrator. Restricted users and administrators work just as expected when it comes to the Stora’s configuration, with users having no control and administrators having full access.

Software update ran next, but no info on software versions was given. This is understandable given the entry level/inexperienced user the Stora is aimed at.

The software update took a few minutes and completed with no problems.

Email addresses to receive notifications from the Stora are entered next, but no mention is made on how many can be used.

The three user limitation was mentioned earlier, and here is the offer of the premium services subscription that offers unlimited user accounts among other features. I have mixed feelings about this, having paid for the subscription I’m not convinced it’s offering much in the way of added value.

In terms of setup the Stora achieves it’s goal of being simple to use, in part 2 further setup and some problems encountered will be covered.

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  1. Martin
    October 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Will not install on my Mac running snow leopard. Any ideas?

  2. November 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Poor product and even more Poor Customer Service:

    This is my first time buying anything from netgear and what a disappointment it has been.

    Trying to save my $20.00 from buying D-link was not worth the headache and the trouble I had to go through.

    Installation CD does not install the device driver, even though I followed the instructions to the dot.

    After many hours of struggle, I finally decided to call support and this is exactly what happened:

    First time: I was put on hold for 58 mins. (can you believe this? )

    Second time: Cust. Rep simply could not help more than asking me to reset the (new) product and finally he too just dropped the line. NO follow-up email or contact was ever made by the company after that.

    Third time: I was again put on hold for 39 mins.

    I went back to the vendor who talked me into trying other Sorta unit as the one I got might be defected.

    So I agreed, I came home with the new Stora once again… and guess what happened?

    Nothing. Exactly the same problem. I uninstalled Norton, Spyware doctor…tried again… Still NO luck whatsoever.

    I bought this after reading good reviews but now I think it was just a good marketing for a poor product. I don”t expect any good service from Netgear now and would definitely think twice before buying it again from them.

    Very disappointing… Product and the Customer Service.

    Take it back to the vendor… will buy somethig else.

  3. November 4, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I’ve not experienced the same level of problems as you have, but I agree the Stora is a great idea badly executed. The amount of bugs in the latest firmware is amazing, especially since its was released last year, then withdrawn for several months due to the major problems it caused. On re-release the major problems were fixed, but the previous bugs were still present. This is bugs like certain shares not working with Macs using afp.
    The subscription plan is also poorly thought out, and I can’t understand why the Stora is sold by Netgear, yet the firmware is developed and supported by a different company.
    The Stora is aimed at computer novices, but you need to be an experienced user to get it to work properly. Nice try, epic fail.

  4. barry
    January 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Hi there

    I was wondering whether Part 2 of this review has been posted yet.

    https://basshead.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/netgear-stora-review-part-1-hardware-and-setup/#respond

    Thanks
    Barry

  5. January 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I haven’t posted part 2 of the review as my opinion of the Stora has swung several times between ‘Great’ and ‘Piece of junk’. There are some good ideas in the Stora, as well as some baffling ones. The bulk of site comments just now are requests for an Acer Aspire 10.6.6 upgrade guide so when time permits that’s first, then a Macbook/HTPC SSD upgrade article. The Stora review should be after those.

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