NetGear’s Stora NAS

While NetGear’s Stora device is essentially just a NAS – Network Attached Storage – it carries with it some very elegant and well implemented design concepts.

Let’s start with the basics, though: a NAS is a device that you can connect to your home network that stands apart from your computers, and should be accessible by any of the computers that use your network. As such, it’s a great device to have around, as you can use it for storage of files that you might want to have access to from several of your devices.

NetGear Stora

NetGear Stora

For instance, you can put your music onto a NAS, and then play from any computer in the house. Similarly, if you have, say, a networked TV in the living room, and a networked media player (perhaps attached to a tv) in a bedroom, you can watch any movies or video content that might be stored on your NAS.

Photos? Same deal!

And of course, you can use a NAS for backing up your important document files too. As you can see, a NAS is a very useful device.

And as such, NetGear’s Stora meets and exceeds these requirements easily. I was easily able to access files on it, from a number of different devices that that I have in my home. Moving files onto it is dead easy, whether from a Mac or a PC. Just as it should be.

And I did mention some elements of elegance: the basic design is that of a simple cube, and within it is space for two SATA hard drives, each contained within its own bay. On the review unit, one of those bays was populated with a 1TB drive, the second bay being free for end-user expansion.

And that expansion appears to be as easy as … the front panel just lifts off – perhaps a tad too easily – to reveal the interior. At the rear of the device you will see a couple of small levers – one for each bay. just lift the lever, and it pushes the installed drive out of the housing. The methodology employed here is not unlike that which I’ve seen on some HDD docking stations, but it’s easy to use, and thus upgrading the Stora’s capacity should be a fairly easy task.

But …..

As good as the Stora is, it is let down by its severely flawed installation and registration process. A part of the Stora’s design philosophy is that it allows you to place your stored content on line. On the web. Yes, you too can have your very own cloud! In fact, you basically have little choice.

The NetGear registration process, which works on both OSX and Windows, steps you through their wizard, asking you to enter a product license key, a unique (world-wide) device identifier, and your email address and a password. We need to remember that the primary usage for devices such as these is for internal access across your home network. While it may be a nice feature to be able to place your files out on your own personal cloud, we believe that this should be your choice, rather than at NetGear’s direction and insistence.

We have no fundamental problems with the requirement to give the device a name and to ask you for log-in credentials, but these should only be applicable within your personal or home realm, in exactly the same way that your ADSL modem requires a local login.

But the requirement that you enter a product activation key, when the software can only be used if the hardware is present, is just wrong. Likewise, so too is the requirement for a unique, throughout the whole world, device ID. Fair enough, collect and assign this if and when you decide that you want to expose your Stora to the cloud, but as a fundamental requirement – one that actually prevents you from actually using the device unless this information is provided – Sorry, that’s just not on. And finally, they also want your email address. Again, you are not able to complete the registration process unless and until you provide this information. And you cannot use the Stora unless and until you complete the registration process.

In summary, this a very good device, but the registration requirements are seriously flawed, and way too onerous. In speaking with NetGear about this aspect, they’ve said that they will review the process. Review is one thing, but it’s not enough. The device should be made to be immediately usable, with no need whatsoever for it to be registered. Registration, with the need to supply a product activation key is just wrong, the need to supply a unique (worldwide) device identifier, should be optional, as should the requirement to supply your email address.

It’s a shame really, as this is quite a nice implementation.