A basic two-bay NAS with a simple user interface, but it’s not particularly fast or quiet.
2 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
The D-Link brand is more commonly associated with routers and networking equipment than storage, but the ShareCenter range has begun to change this perception. All ShareCenter-branded NAS devices are reasonably priced and the Pulse is no different. At only £70, it’s one of the cheapest two-bay NAS enclosures available. It’s also very simple to use, which is great if you’re new to network-attached storage.
The unit itself is relatively compact and looks rather sleek, with a mirror-finish plastic front and several status LEDs to indicate the status of any installed disks. Apart from the power button and a single USB port hidden behind a flap on the front of the unit, the Pulse is a refreshingly simple NAS enclosure that new users will appreciate. A one-touch button will back up the contents of a memory stick or external hard drive directly to the NAS, or you can attach a USB printer to print over the network. As there’s only one port you’ll have to unplug your printer to use external storage.
When installing a hard disk, the top of the unit slides off to reveal two empty 3.5in drive bays. Getting the top back on after installing our two test disks proved a little tricky, but eventually we closed it up and turned it on. The large gap between the two hard disk bays is great for cooling, but also magnifies drive noise. If the NAS is reading or writing data constantly, it can be distractingly loud. In idle mode, though, the cooling fan is almost silent.
A comprehensive installation guide takes you through the setup process, with helpful instructions explaining less straightforward options such as how to set up a static IP address. Once the unit is up and running, the majority of the settings are controlled through a web interface. The ShareCenter home screen will seem familiar to anyone that’s ever used a D-Link router; the familiar orange colour scheme and menu-based options are all present and correct. Beyond basic hard disk monitoring, system controls and RAID setup, the web interface also contains all the multimedia streaming options.
Aside from standard UPnP and DLNA streaming support, there’s also an option to use the Pulse as a networked iTunes library. HTTP, FTP and torrent downloaders cover every option for grabbing files straight from the internet and saving them to the NAS. All these options can be disabled until required, but we had to dig a little deeper to find the advanced settings. Using the bundled copy of DriveClone Pro, it was easy to save backups of an entire hard disk to the NAS.
We weren’t particularly impressed with the ShareCenter’s performance; using our regular test hard disks it wrote large files at 13.4MB/s and read them back at 11.8MB/s. Smaller files were even slower, writing at just 8.1MB/s and reading at 10.2MB/s. Using RAID 0 didn’t produce any noticeable gain in performance, so it makes sense to use RAID 1 for its data redundancy features.
The ShareCenter has an understated design and a simple interface that will appeal to anyone that wants a basic NAS, but other two-bay enclosures are faster and make less noise when accessing disks. It costs more, but the excellent Synology DS210J has plenty of extra features and faster transfer speeds.
|Default file system||N/A|
|Price per gigabyte||N/A|
|3.5in drive bays||2|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||2|
|RAID modes||JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1|
|USB direct access ports (front/rear)||1/0|
|Other USB ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Ethernet connection speed||10/100/1000Mbit/s|
|Universal Plug and Play support||yes|
|UPnP media server||yes|
|USB disk server||yes|
|Protocols supported||TCP/IP, SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP|
|Ethernet cable included||yes|
|Power consumption active||22W|
|Warranty||two years RTB|