NAS, or Network Attached Storages, were before a thing only employed in the premises of small and large offices. But being internet homeboys as we are, the data that we consume everyday grows and there is an apparent need for someplace for it to be stored. Gladly, Giada allowed us to review one of their GT200 for us to test if it can handle the toils of being on 24/7 while downloading nonsensical stuff from the internet.
I can’t help but treat this NAS as a simply computer. It has the makings of one and is complete with the parts, albeit at a tiny form factor. It houses two 3.5” HDDs both of which are inserted via a removable top cover. And underneath that thin metal sheet is a processor, RAM, and motherboard: a complete trifecta of a PC.
Unscrew and remove warranty sticker to remove the inner assembly.
The whole assembly can be removed and the process is similar to taking off a computer casing. After a total of 16 screws, I was able to see the backside of its motherboard which is the place for its built-in SSD and memory. One can still go further by removing the whole bay assembly but doing so would forfeit the warranty. Strangely enough, an empty memory socket is located underneath the bays and the manual provides a step by step process on how to install another RAM. Then again, your warranty can be voided by the action, so what gives Giada? Why?
The backpanel is home to a VGA port, two USB 2.0s, two RJ45 LAN ports, a slot for a Kensington Lock, and an SPDIF/Audio socket.
Smacking in two HDDs is as easy as taking this out of the box. Both storages are held only by plastic guides complete with a catchy purple handle as they are inserted into their respective bays. No clicking or secure mechanisms are involved aside from gravity and the dimensions of the bay drives. After this, just plug in the power cable and network cable, and you’re good to go. Or at least once you go through the arduous installation of the OS.
The process of installing a system into the GT200 is akin to that of feeding it into a new PC. There are several free NAS OSs out there that can be downloaded and utilized to maximize the functionalities of the Giada GT200. For this review, I settled on FreeNAS because it is, by far, free and the simplest to install, yet one with the most complex offerings amongst the selection. I also tried NAS4Free but found it hard to work around and install, not to mention that it took me half a day to conclude that it’s as buggy as hell.
As I’ve said before, the GT200 is a PC on its own. Powered by an Intel Celeron processor and a hefty serving of 4GB of RAM, this is ample enough to manage your daily storage needs. Also worth noting is that it comes with a 30GB SSD for installation of the OS, a big deal since NAS systems require a whole partition despite it not filling up the whole. To top it all off, you can upgrade the SSD and the RAM for additional firepower for your storage needs.
Going back to the hardware, packing a dual-core processor may sound overkill but do know NASs are not only meant for handling files and storing them as is. These devices are capable of being servers on their own, be it for entertainment or for work. Because it is a small PC, one can also install a Windows 8.1 on it just for the heck of it!
With that said, setting it up requires a little knowledge about networking and programming as finding helpful FAQs and instructions with regards to NAS OSs are either nonexistent or highly technical. It’s not a plug and play device. There’re no helpful UIs available and Giada’s offering is but a barebones package that the user can tweak or flash to do their bidding. On the otherhand, the lack of a UI opens it up to possibilities with the number of NAS systems available online for grabs. The process is undeniably technical, but knowledge does breed rewards when it comes to this matter.
With that, we can recommend this for those who’re looking to power up their offices or homes with a 2-bay NAS drive that has much to offer, now and in the future. Same advice goes to those who find themselves adventurous when it comes to tinkering with tech.
Our review unit came with 4GB of RAM and two 500GB 3.5” HDDs but Giada’s online site hints that those components are not included and must be bought separately.
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