Storage is one of the most important elements in today’s digital life. From important documents to vital emails, music, photos and videos, we keep hoarding data – and with it the need for storage expansion rises. Sharing this stored data is also an important aspect at home and office and this calls for a centralised storage medium such as a file server or a network attached storage (NAS). There are NAS devices available in the market from QNAP, Iomega, Buffalo, WD, Synology and a few others. Usually, NAS devices available from the known manufacturers provide many (definitely useful and robust) features. Seagate has launched a very simple NAS, the Central, which begs to differ. Let’s check some of the features and functions it sports.
Rugged chassis, matte-finish exterior.
The Seagate Central is a simple network attached storage drive aimed to centralise all your media content and shared by multiple devices at home or office. It is basically a regular storage drive with a desktop hard drive plugged inside and connected to the local network with an Ethernet cable. The internal storage cannot be changed or upgraded by the user. The Central comes in three variants—2TB, 3TB and 4TB, of which we received the 4TB one. The drive measures 8.5 inches in width and stands 1.7 inches tall with a weight of 980 g. It is powered using an external power adapter.
Good looks, metal mesh on the top for cooling the internal drive
The Seagate Central is designed with care. It has a good looking case, which is around twice the size of a regular 3.5-inch internal desktop hard drive or just about the size of a standard school lunch box. The chassis has a rugged build with no soft plastic or weak areas. The top is enclosed with a fine metal mesh, like those in a speaker grille, to allow the internal hard drive to be cooled efficiently. The product has absolutely no buttons or switches except for a single status LED on the top. The rear panel sports the two interfaces for connectivity and a power jack. The two interfaces are a USB 2.0 port for connecting external storage and expanding or backing up and a Gigabit Ethernet port for connecting it to your local network switch or a wireless router.
Rear panel only sports a Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 interface
The Seagate Central has very limited and bare minimum features if compared to a fully blown NAS. Where a regular NAS features services such as web server, SMTP server, SAMBA, Email, Download, BT, and a lot more, the Central has just file sharing and DLNA services built in. The media streaming service can be switched off, but you cannot choose the folders that you want to stream or the ones you want to keep private.
4TB non user replaceable internal storage, external power adapter provided
Deploying the Central is a simple 2-minute process on the hardware front. Simply unpack, connect the power adapter, plug in the Ethernet cable to the device and a router and switch it on. On the software front, you would have to set it up using the web interface. Simply hunt for the Seagate storage on the network (Windows network usually lists it automatically) and you can right-click on the drive and head on to the web interface from there.
The interface has five tabs. The Home tab is just an information page, which helps create and edit users. In the Users tab, you can create multiple users with passwords and rights; accordingly, the Social tab is nothing but an option to log in using Facebook details. Doing this simply downloads all the photos you have uploaded or are tagged in directly onto the Central’s drive. We do not know if this will help anyone, but it's there as an add-on feature.
User accounts need to be initially set, inbuilt services can be defined
The Services tab features settings for remote access, where one can connect to the device and share or transfer data into their own accounts using the login credentials over an Internet connection. The data can be accessed from anywhere around the globe using just a simple Internet connection and the username and password. The Settings tab has the main settings for the device. These include settings to name the device on the network, registration for the Central, system information and service for start, restart, shut down and reset, LAN settings, disk test, USB management and firmware updating. The Central is easy to use and is compatible with apps across all platforms on Windows, IOS and Android.
Setting up the device is very simple and straightforward
The basic interface on the web browser does not give you options to back up or transfer data. You can only create users from there and the user can then map the drive to his/her PC using the Windows Explorer. One can then drag and drop their data or use it as they wish. Security features will not allow one user to peek into the other user’s data without the password. Seagate also offers you a free account by which you can access the drive via the cloud. All you need to do is hit the website "https://access.seagate.com", enter the credentials you gave when setting up the drive and access your files. You can also do the same by downloading the respective apps from the online stores for IOS and Android devices.
Set up the Seagate Dashboard and choose the backup folders
But data stored on the public folder can be accessed by everyone. Here is the catch—you have to store all your media files (photo, music and videos) in the respective folders in the public folder. The built-in media server only scans this folder for content and changes to stream the media to others on the network. Any other folder apart from these three folders are not recognised by the media server, so users cannot make new folders outside the same. You can also not privatise any media folders based on the genre or personal stuff. To keep media private, you will have to store them in your folders and access them as you would from a network.
In order to use the Central as a backup medium to your advantage, you would need to download the Seagate Dashboard software for Windows. Mac users can use the Time Machine to back up their data to the Central. The dashboard has a few more features, which can help back up your data and even automate it. You can also use it to download or synchronise data on your Flickr, Facebook and YouTube accounts using the Dashboard. Lastly, using the dashboard, you can check the status of your internal drive capacity, cloud storage capacity, firmware version and a few other details.
Setup cloud services from where data can be backed up to your individual user folders
The Seagate Central is priced at Rs 17,700 while the internal hard drive itself costs around Rs 11,000. An external 4TB hard drive with a USB 3.0 interface from Seagate costs around Rs 12,000. So, for around Rs 5,000 more, you get a storage medium with a media server, and cloud service in a single package. Lack of a storage capacity status indicator, non-user-replaceable internal drive, missing power switch, no option to choose the media files/folders in the media server service and a missing FTP service are a few things that should have been provided as basic features on the device itself.
In a nutshell, the Seagate Central is a simple solution to organise and access all your digital files on one single location on the network. You can create user accounts to keep them private and users can access their data from anywhere on the Internet too. The device is also beneficial as a single point storage for all your media files and entertainment. We recommend this device to those looking for a small, super-simple, multi-user backup and media sharing storage on the network.
Dimensions (WxHxD): 8.5 x 1.7 x 5.7 inches
Weight: 980 g
Interface: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Services: DLNA, Media streaming, File storage, User login security
Compatible Operating Systems: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS X
Apps Available: Seagate Media, iTunes App Store, Android Market, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Samsung Smart Hub1
Requirements: Router, Wi-Fi Router, Internet connection, Internet browser
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