On the back sits the power port, pin-sized reset button, the very-important Gigabit-capable Ethernet port, and two more standard USB ports. The fan is visible here, as is a small slot for a security lock.
That special USB slot on the front is actually a USB transfer port. Connect any USB storage device here, and push the button right above it (the USB Backup button), and ShareSpace will automatically suck all the data off the storage device and put it on the NAS in its own folder. Think of it as a slurping port.
The other two USB port, on the back side, work just fine as ways to tack on additional network storage or backup space. But why would you need to add storage onto an already healthy 4TB system ? If you really need more space, you might be in the market for server racks or a full-fledged data center, not a lunchbox-sized NAS.
Turning on the ShareSpace is simple enough. Just hold down the power button for several seconds, and let the drives whir into action. The whole process actually takes about three minutes, which is surprisingly long for such a small box.
Once the drives are up and running, the LEDs zip into action. They blink in a variety of ways to let you know what’s going on inside. The four drive LEDs can blink amber or green, or any combination of the two, to tell you about various errors and levels of readiness. The Ethernet port blinks green when data’s moving, and the “system identification” LED blinks blue or red. The USB Backup button LED also blinks green. If you’ve got an extra USB drive plugged into the USB port, it probably blinks too. You don’t want to put this drive in the same room as your bed.
The 4TB version of ShareSpace comes preconfigured in a RAID 5 mode. RAID 5 means that each of the four drives is partially used, or “striped”, with evenly distributed and redundant data. This provides a failsafe recovery path if a failure occurs on any drive, while at the same time allowing the drives to run at optimum performance levels. If you’ve got more than three drives, RAID 5 mode is the safest and highest-quality option.
RAID 5 means that you only get about 3 terabytes of storage space. The rest is used for data redundancy. If that’s a problem for you, ShareSpace also supports RAID 1, which mirrors two of the drives onto the other two (you only get 2TB available to you this way). Or, Raid 0 (zero failure protection, but incorporates striping), which gives you all 4TB. Spanning mode also gives you all 4TB, but your computer will see this as one enormous drive with no added benefits, and if something goes wrong, everything might be affected—scary !