Windows Home Servers are dropping in price and the Acer easyStore H340 is leading the charge; I like that. This server doesn’t offer a lot of extras like the HP MediaSmart line, but it’s amazingly low price outweighs everything else.
This isn’t a tiny box. It’s a good size larger than the HP MediaSmart. Up-front there are four removable hard drive trays, along with status lights, USB port, and power button. I can’t tell you how much I love the front facing power button. HP continues to place its power buttons on the back of its WHS which is a pain in the ass. Around back there are 4 USB ports, eSATA port, 10/100/1000 Ethernet jack, and power jack. There isn’t anything missing. This server is fully equipped.
I was slightly concerned that the Atom CPU would disappoint me, but just like with the HP LX195, this guy works just fine. The low power-consumption CPU handled running uTorrent 24/7, unRARing, and backing-up just fine. I didn’t notice any hiccups or performance issues at all when using this server.
HP has dedicated a lot to building-up an extensive suite of applications to enhance its line of MediaSmart WHS. The EX line can do everything from stream content to iPhones, back-up Macs, transcode video on the fly, host a photo sharing site, and all this is done through a refined user interface.
Acer hasn’t done any of this with the easyStore. Instead, the company installed a couple of WHS add-ons and shipped the product. That’s fine with me. I could care less about all the extra crap loaded on HP’s boxes – except the OS X compatablilty. Windows Home Server is a solid piece of software by itself and there are a ton of additional add-ons that users can easy install themselves. As long as the server provides a reliable file storage and back-up solution, I don’t think you can ask for more.
There is one thing: OS X backups. The easyStore H340 doesn’t support Time Machine and so it cannot back-up OS X natively like all the new HP LX and EX MediaSmart WHS can.
This thing is a a great deal at its $399 MSRP. That’s almost the same price of the HP LX195, but comes with a 1TB hard drive instead of 640GB. Plus, it’s $200 less than the 750GB EX485 and $350 less than the 1.5TB EX487. Those HP servers do feature all of the benefits above, but you could add three 1TB drives for a total of 4TB and still come under the cost of the top HP MediaSmart. Storage capacity tops software in my book.
Besides the small downside of not being Time Machine compatable, I cannot think of a reason to buy any other NAS/WHS over the Acer easyStore H340. The hardware is solid, the performance is acceptable, and the price is stellar at $399. It’s even better at Amazon: this model is $349 right now.