Seagate Central NAS drive review
Most of Seagate’s NAS drives are aimed at business users, but its new Seagate Central drive is very much designed for use in the home. In most respects, the Seagate Central is a fairly conventional NAS drive, but its iOS app and compatibility with both iTunes and Time Machine make it a good network back-up option for Mac users. Although it’s worth noting, we’re not aware of any NAS drives that do not support those facilities today.
Read more: Best NAS for Mac
Prices for the Seagate Central start at a very competitive £100 for a model with 2 TB of storage, and there are 3 and 4 TB models also available for around £130 and £160 respectively. However, those low prices mean that there are few frills or added extras.
Like all NAS drives, you use the ethernet interface to connect it to your Wi-Fi router. Another connectivity option is a single USB 2.0 interface, to copy files from a memory stick or hard drive to the Seagate.
It’s quite neatly designed, with a low-profile case that measures just 216 mm wide, 145 mm deep and 42 mm high. Set-up is quite straightforward, and Seagate’s manual includes instructions for Mac and Windows. This covers Mac-specific Time Machine back-ups, as well as creating a shared iTunes library that can stream music to anyone on your home network.
See also: Storage reviews
Once you’ve connected the drive to your network it shows up as an ordinary shared volume on your Mac, with a ‘Public’ folder already set up so that you can quickly start copying files onto it. Files stored in the Public folder are available to everyone, but the manual provides clear instructions on using the drive’s web-browser interface to set up private accounts and folders for files that you prefer to keep to yourself.
There’s an app for iOS devices that allows you to stream music, photos and videos from the Seagate Central. This app also supports AirPlay, so if you own an Apple TV you can stream files that are playing on your iOS device onto your TV screen. Alternatively, the Seagate Central also supports the DLNA networking protocol for streaming files to non-Apple kit such as games consoles.
And, of course, no storage product is complete these days without a ‘personal cloud’ option that provides remote access to your files when you’re away from home.
The Seagate Central manages this quite simply, allowing you set up a password-protected account so that you can log into the Seagate website from any device that has a web browser and Internet access. The Seagate website then handles the task of connecting you to your Seagate Central back at home, and also provides an option to share specific folders with friends as well.
Seagate Central: Lab report
As with most consumer network storage, the main issue may be in file copying speed. There's no RAID overhead here on the processor, and we found with a virgin drive that read operations could hit 110 MB/s.
File writing, that is the copying of files to the Seagate Central, was very slow. Maximum speed with large files was around 30 MB/s, but for random writes of files from 4 to 1024 kB, the average fell to just 2.8 MB/s.
To give that speed some context, if you were backing up your Mac with a full 500 GB drive inside, the task would take at best over two days continuous operation.
Power consumption was very low, idling at 3 watt and rising to just 9 watt when in use. AH
There’s nothing at all new or innovative about the Seagate Central, but it gets the basics right. It’s competitively priced and easy to use, if very slow when writing files to its disk.