Unlike the most NAS that are based on linux, Western Digital Sentinel is powered by Windows Stroage Server. I was specially excited to configure WD sentinel becuase of the OS it runs on. This is my first NAS box that runs on WSS. Here is my review of WD Sentinel

Looks and Build

WD has done an excellent job on the designing. Build Quality is good and the unit feels sturdy and solid. Black finish with blue lights looks beautiful, and it’s much smaller than it looks in the pictures. Same excellent designing is reflected in the bays too , which are spring loaded without a single screw. It’s very easty to remove and insert the hard drives in bays . However the bays are not lockable.

Sentinel ships with Western Digital RE drives, the highest grade enterprise drives. It supports only enterprise grade drive ( not even WD Red NAS drives !)

WD_Sentinel_DX4000.jpg
Don’t let the picture fool you. It’s actually a lot smaller than it looks in the picture

In the Box.

They have given you everything you need to run the unit , even 2 power cables – one rounded and other flat to accomodate different kinds of power sources. However there is only one laptop style power adapter , though the Sentinel itself has 2 internal power supplies. You buy one more power adapter and you have a redudant power supply.

Installation

The manual says the inital server installation must be done using a windows computer, though I don’t see why. It’s a web based wizard that IMO should be platform independent. But I tried doing it from windows and it went smoothly. The server was up and ready in about 5 mintues.

After installing and initializing the server, you can start accessing the shares on the network immediately, though to use WSS backup functionality, you will have to connect each client you are trying to protect which is a one time process. You can connect upto 25 clients. To manually do this on 20-25 machines would be a hessle for sure, but it’s a one time process and it pays in the long run as you will be able to manage all the clients backup centrally from Sentinel Later.

I had to disable my avtivirus while connecting the machine as it would keep blocking some elements, but once I disabled it, the installation went smooth.

Now, the connector software ( that you download by typing sentinel ip address in a browser) is only available for Windows and Mac and there is no software for linux yet. But that’s not a problem As I earlier said, you can still access the share in your linux clients and use any software to back them up. You can even manage your server from linux using RDP clients.

Accessing Network share in Ubuntu
There is no WSS connector for Ubuntu. you can however access the network shares easily. In windows and Mac you get full disaster recovery support.

Accessing the server, installing extra softwares.

The easiest way to access your server is through terminal service client. ( you can use mstsc.exe on windows or one of several RDP clients in Linux). AccessingSentinel through terminal services gives you a full windows session and you can insatall additional programs. Since WSS is windows, you should be able to run many ( if not all) windows programs. I was able to run putty, filezilla and firefox immediately. Seeing the familiar windows interface on your NAS device makes it so simple. Installing a new program is as easy as installing a program on your desktop pc ( though you may not want to clutter your Storage server by additing unnecessary programs)

Accessing your Sentinel through Terminal services
You can gain full access to your sentinel through terminal services. This screenshot shows firefox, putty and filezilla installed on sentinel. Think of Sentinel as a PC running on Windows storage server.

Bottomline

What I like about Sentinel

+ Build quality

+ Full Disaster recover support for 25 Clients

+ Price

+ Reliability due to Enterprise Grade Hard drives

+ Very very silent

+ Spring loaded Bays, very easy to load/unload hard drives.

+ Dual Power supply, dual network card

What Could be Better

– Lack of Centralized installtion feature. You have to go to each client machine to connect as a part of one time setup.

– Only 1 external power adapter provided. It’s not a problem but when they gave 2 internal power supplies it would be good to have 2 external powers too

– Bays can’t be locked

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