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Seagate Dockstar review

Alan Lu
22 Apr 2010
Seagate Dockstar
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
66
inc VAT

Seagate's Dockstar is designed specifically for accessing your files remotely rather than for local file sharing, so it's not for everyone.

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Specifications

0 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

Seagate's Dockstar is very different from other network storage devices. Unlike every other network storage enclosure we've seen, it doesn't take internal SATA hard disks but external USB disks instead. Although it can share files among all your networked computers like any other NAS, the Dockstar's design emphasises its extensive remote access features rather its basic local file sharing capabilities.

Configuring the Dockstar is extremely easy. The online setup wizard takes less than five minutes to complete, if only because there are very few options aside from your user name and password. The Dockstar will attempt to open the ports necessary for its remote access features to work if your router supports UPnP port forwarding. If it doesn't, then you'll have to do this manually, but the setup wizard provides the necessary port numbers to do this.

The Dockstar has three USB ports as well as a dock for Seagate's own FreeAgent range of portable hard disks. These ports can't be used to share a USB printer on your local network, which is a surprising limitation. The Dockstar runs Linux, so technically adept users can hack it to enable USB printer sharing, but this isn't officially supported by Seagate.

Files stored on any USB disk attached to the Dockstar can be accessed from any internet-connected computer through a web browser. There's an annual subscription fee of US$30 (approximately £20), but one year's subscription is included for free.

The fee is worth paying as the remote access features are among the best and easiest to use of any NAS we’ve seen. The interface is surprisingly sophisticated and allows you to search for files by keyword, save frequently used searches as smart folders and view photos as slideshows. People can be invited to view or download selected files - they don't need to have a Dockstar account - and they can be notified via email or RSS if you decide to share more files. Stored photos can uploaded to Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. It's also straightforward to upload multiple files to the Dockstar from a remote location. There's even an iPhone application for backing up your photos and videos from your mobile device.

Considering all this, the barebones local file sharing is surprising. You can't create password-protected user accounts so anyone on your local network can access any files. It’s possible to turn off local file sharing for individual hard disks - a very blunt security measure, but better than nothing. The Dockstar also has to check in with Seagate's servers before local file sharing will work. It only does this if your router is turned off and back on, but it's a bizarre requirement.

Local file transfer speeds are excruciatingly slow – similar to that of a USB1.1 disk. Large files were copied at an overall speed of 3.4MB/s, while small files were copied at an average speed of 2.3MB/s. A clumsy work around is to transfer files to the disks via USB instead of the network connection, but this defeats the point of having a NAS.

The Dockstar is inexpensive and its remote-access features are impressively sophisticated, but the poorly designed local file sharing limits its appeal. Unless your need for remote access overrides everything else, there are better designed NAS devices available.

Basic Specifications

Price£66
Rating***

Storage

CapacityN/A
Formatted capacityN/A
Default file systemNTFS, FAT32, HFS+
Price per gigabyteN/A
InterfaceUSB
3.5in drive bays0
Free 3.5in drive bays0
RAID modesN/A

Interface

Ethernet ports1
USB direct access ports (front/rear)0/0
Other USB ports (front/rear)1/2
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Other portsnone

Networking

Ethernet connection speed10/100/1000Mbit/s
Universal Plug and Play supportno
UPnP media serverno
iTunesno
Print serverno
USB disk serveryes
Web serverno
FTP serverno
Protocols supportedTCP/IP, SMB/CIFS

Miscellaneous

Size39x85x85mm
Weight500g
Vertical positioningno
Ethernet cable includedyes
Additional featuresremote access
Power consumption idle5W
Power consumption active5W

Buying Information

Price£66
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://accessories.euro.dell.com
Detailswww.seagate.com

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