The Promise SmartStor DS4600 is a RAID system for small businesses. Our colleagues from Macworld tested the SmartStor DS4600 for Mac OS X; a PC version is also available.

Promise is best known for producing high-end RAID systems for large corporations - in fact, some of its products cost in excess of £10,000. However, the Promise SmartStor DS4600 is an attempt to cater for individual users in smaller businesses, such as photographers, video editors and other creative professionals.

Housed inside the stylish box is a four-bay RAID storage system. In the UK, Promise primarily sells the DS4600 through the Apple Store, where it comes pre-configured with four 1TB drives for £699 or four 2TB drives for £1,049.

Round the back of the unit you'll find no less than four separate interfaces for connecting the unit to your system: USB 2.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800 and eSATA. However, the DS4600 is specifically designed for use with individual computers, and doesn't have an ethernet interface that would allow you to share it with others on an office network.

Our first impression wasn't entirely favourable, as the chassis is constructed out of lightweight plastic and the plastic holders for the internal drive units were particularly flimsy. We also had problems installing the SmartNAVI software supplied on CD and had to locate the latest update on the Promise website before we were able to install it properly.

Fortunately, are experience with the Promise SmartStor DS4600 picked up after that. Once installed, the SmartNAVI software works well and includes a single-click option that will automatically configure the unit for you, as well as manual configuration for more experienced users.

The Promise SmartStor DS4600 supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 1+0 modes, and works with Apple's Time Machine as well as providing its own SmartSync backup feature. It also includes a number of additional options, such as the ability to monitor the unit's internal temperature and send you a warning email if any faults develop.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

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Group test: what's the best NAS drive?

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Promise SmartStor DS4600: Specs

  • 4-bay hot-swappable enclosure featuring 7,200RPM SATA 3Gbps drives
  • 4TB storage capacity (4 x 1TB) and Pre-formatted in HFS+ File System
  • FireWire 400
  • 2 x FireWire 800
  • USB 2.0
  • eSATA 3G
  • RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 with Hot Spare (One volume per DS4600)
  • Power Consumption: 15W in Standby, 36W Idle and 40W Full Load
  • 2 Year Warranty with 1 Year Limited on Fan and Power Adapter
  • 4-bay hot-swappable enclosure featuring 7,200RPM SATA 3Gbps drives
  • 4TB storage capacity (4 x 1TB) and Pre-formatted in HFS+ File System
  • FireWire 400
  • 2 x FireWire 800
  • USB 2.0
  • eSATA 3G
  • RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 with Hot Spare (One volume per DS4600)
  • Power Consumption: 15W in Standby, 36W Idle and 40W Full Load
  • 2 Year Warranty with 1 Year Limited on Fan and Power Adapter

OUR VERDICT

Promise needs to pay a little more attention to detail, as the build-quality of the Promise SmartStor DS4600 and the buggy software installer both create a rather poor first impression. However, the SmartNAVI software is attractively straightforward to use, and the DS4600 is quite reasonably priced compared to similar business-oriented RAID systems. Overall, it’s a good choice for creative users who need a fast and reliable storage system.

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