Promise repeatedly asked me to take a look at its SmartNavi management application, which they said could be used instead of the web admin interface by most users to manage the product. The released version runs on Windows XP and Vista machines, but there is a beta Mac OS X (v10.4) version available via download.
SmartNavi is actually a Java application (Figure 4) and is the only way that you can access the 2300N's Download Station setup and SmartSYNC client backup feature.
Figure 4: SmartNavi about screen
SmartSYNC seemed to work as advertised. You have folder-level selection of the files to be backed up and can schedule the backup every N hours, daily at a particular time or weekly at a day and time of your choice. I set up the folder shown in Figure 5 to be backed up every hour as a test.
Figure 5: SmartSYNC setup
I like the every N hour option, since this is how my backups are done by my current NAS. But SmartSYNC doesn't have a way to set a start or stop time for the hourly backups, which means that they would fail when I power my systems down for the night. This also means that I would get annoying email warnings if I set up the Email alert feature.
Speaking of which, alerts seemed to not work at first with my ISP that requires SMTP authentication via username / password login. But when I tried them again during my fail-a-drive test, they mysteriously started working. It also looks like a test mail is sent automatically when you first enable the feature. Because this is the first email that I received:
Notification from NS2300N (ns2300n_261739) !
Message: This is a test email, not a real event notification.
Date : May 11 2000 07:57:27
Returning to SmartSYNC, Figure 6 shows the Event Log, which isn't specific to SmartSYNC but is the system's general log, where you can see that the backup occurred as scheduled. I didn't like, however, that the "Z" drive where the backups are stored can't be accessed by any other means than by the SmartSYNC Restore function. I tested Restore and it worked (you can restore to the original location or another of your choice), but I would still prefer direct access to the files.
Figure 6: SmartSYNC log
I also wanted to test the Download Station Plug-In (Figure 7), but couldn't get the application to enable. After some back and forth with Promise, they confirmed that I found a bug affecting only a "small number" of units. The bug is supposed to be corrected in an upcoming firmware release.
Figure 7: Download Station
One place where SmartNAVI is not so smart is when it comes to RAID management and monitoring. Figure 8 was taken while a RAID 1 to 0 migration was running. There was no sign of it in any of the other Volume Configuration screens, either. Migration took multiple hours for an array of two 750 GB drives. However, all shares were available during that time.
Figure 8: Volume Configuration
SmartNAVI's other main functions include share and user / group management and some setup features. You can also upgrade firmware and load feature Plug-Ins (which currently include the Download Station, iTunes and DLNA servers) from your local machine instead of having to upload them to a share as the web admin requires.