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Thread: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

  1. #1

    Default Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    As a photographer, storage is always never enough. With new cameras, comes larger file sizes. As a result finding storage and cataloguing our shoots have become increasingly difficult and messy. I think we have reached a stage where recordable DVDs and Blurays are not efficient for storage. What I want is accessibility to my files when I need them, wherever, whenever. Therefore, NAS storage devices are one of the cheaper options available.

    Today, we look at the Seagate BlackArmor NAS440. This version comes with 4 x 1.5TB HDD configured in RAID5 as default which gives us 4.5TB of usable storage. This is like having 500 DVD-DL or 100 Bluray-DL.

    Heres the list of the manufacturer’s specifications and features.

    Going through the features, a few things which I expect to see as standard in modern network storage is missing. They are iSCSI support, Online Capacity Expansion (OCE), Online RAID Level Migration and RAID5 Hotspare.
    No OCE means we can’t upgrade the storage by just swapping out the harddisks 1 by 1 with larger capacity ones in the future without shutting down the storage and rebuilding the RAID. This sort of contradicts Seagate’s marketing about “Designed for Optimum Uptime and Availability”

  2. #2

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    The Device

    Unpacking the box, reveals the BlackArmor in a standard white foam protectors and a box of accessories. This one does not come with the correct power socket cable for UK plugs. Luckily I had some of these cables lying around. I would say it’s very well packed and protected for shipping. Below are some pictures of the BlackArmor.


    Wrong Power cable

    Looking at the front panel of the BlackArmor, we see a small two-line LCD panel that displays information such as the IP addresses of each of the two LAN interfaces, date, time, disk status, volume usage, temperature, fan speed, etc., as well as alerts. Below the LCD is the drive door. Opening it up shows the 4 hotswap HDDs. There are also LEDs for each of the LAN ports, system status LED, power button and one of the three USB 2.0 ports. If you’re interested in seeing disk activity, however, you’ll have to open the door to expose the drives – the drive status activity LEDs are on the tray for each drive.

    On the back, there are two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be configured for port failover or for NAS to NAS replication. There is also a reset button, Kensington lock slot, case locking tab and the remaining of three USB 2.0 ports.

    The USB ports can be used to connect external drives for capacity expansion or backup, UPS shutdown synchronization or to connect a USB printer for sharing. Note that the reset button will reset the administrator’s password, but will not set the device back to factory default – a design decision made to "protect data", according to Seagate.

    Powering the BlackArmor is a Marvell "Kirkwood" 88F6281 NAS processor clocked at 1.2 GHz with 256 MB of soldered-on-board RAM. Dual Marvell 88E1116Rs provide two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be used separately or arranged in failover mode. The Harddisks used are four Seagate 7200.11 Barracuda 1.5TB. Fan and drive noise are low, meaning the BlackArmor is barely audible in a quiet room.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review


    Setting up the BlackArmor is quick and easy. I just need to plug in the network cable and the power cable, let the DHCP server assign the BlackArmor with an IP and it’s good to go. The BlackArmor arrives pre-configured in RAID5 with all of the space allocated to a single volume. The default shares include Download and Public with the public share having subdirectories used by the DLNA and iTunes server.

    For configuration, It comes with a CD containing a discovery utility that can be installed either on a Windows or Mac OS system. The CD also contains the BlackArmor Backup Software. There is actually no need to use the discovery tool as clicking manage on the discovery tool brings up the same web based console as you keying in the IP address of the device on the web browser.

    Login Page

    Upon logging in, you will have to go through the initial setup of the device with a setup wizard. Here, I had trouble going through the final screen due to a programming issue on the web page. It took me some time surfing the Seagate forums to find the remedy here.

    Problem Page

    With the problem solved, we are ready to do more advanced configuration of the BlackArmor.
    First thing I did was download the latest firmware from Seagate website and updated the firmware to version 4000.0671. After flashing and rebooting, I'm greeted with the following screen upon login.

    There are many configuration options within the web interface. Here are some of the features that are available.

    System Menu

    From this menu, you will be able to config the name of the device, time zone and NTP server. There is also an option to select HTTP or HTTPS for web management and you can either paste in an existing SSL key, or auto generate an SSL key.

    This Advanced menu also includes a HDD standby feature – added in the latest firmware update. Your option is to enable or disable HDD Standby. You don’t have control of drive spin-down times, however.

    The BlackArmor supports email notifications of certain events. Included in BlackArmor is a SMTP server, so you do not need a SMTP server to use this feature. You only need to enter an email address. There is also no options for logging events in BlackArmor which is a disappointment.

    The System menu will also let you configure the BlackArmor for manual or automatic firmware updates. If you select Automatic, you can specify that the updates be applied at a specific time or be prompted to apply the updates. In addition, the system menu will let you manage an attached UPS, change the admin password, shutdown/reboot the device or access the S.M.A.R.T drive status menu.

    The Backup Client license sub menu displays the status of your backup software licenses. The licenses are tied to the MAC address of the computer using the license, but there’s no way to reclaim a license for a system pulled out of service. BlackArmor comes with 10 licenses for Windows systems only, and, of course, you can buy more.

    Network Menu

    In the network menu, there standard configuration settings for each of the two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, you can config basic stuff like a using a DHCP server or assign a static address.

    You can also set the workgroup name or join an Active Directory Domain. If there is a printer attached to one of the USB ports, this menu lets you manage the print queue. The BlackArmor also supports Dynamic DNS through

    In the services menu, we can change the ports for HTTP and HTTPS web access. There are options to enable the built in FTP server.

    Storage Menu

    The storage menu lets you manage the disks, create/delete disk volumes, create/delete shares, manage USB shares for devices attached to the USB ports and enable quotas on the RAID volumes. For each share, you can enable a recycle bin as well as Drag&Sort, a Seagate feature that automatically sorts drag-and-dropped files into directories based on file extension.

    The BlackArmor is configured as RAID 5 by default, with all of the available space allocated to a single “DATAVOLUME”. Making any changes to either would result in losing data already on the default volume. The BlackArmor supports only RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBOD. There are no advanced features like Online Capacity Expansion and Online RAID level migration.

    Other submenus include a download management menu. The download is limited to HTTP and FTP. No bittorrent support here.

    The more interesting submenu is the Backup Manager. It lets you backup and restore files to/from an attached external USB drive or a network device. You can either perform the task one time, or you can schedule a backup task. NAS-to-NAS backup is supported, but only to another BlackArmor.

    Access Menu

    This menu allows you to create users and groups, manage folder share permissions, USB share permissions, and enable the Global Access remote access feature. When you create a new user, you can assign them to groups as well as create private shares for them. Creating a private share automatically creates a share with the user’s login name and sets access rights so that only the user has read and write rights to the share.

    Global Access, if enabled, allows users to access their files from anywhere on the web using Seagate’s free Global Access service which allows users to access files on Seagate storage device and share those files with other people via the web.

    Media Menu

    This last menu item allows the configuration of DLNA media and the iTunes servers.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review


    Here comes the interesting part of any review. As the BlackArmor does not support iSCSI, I can’t run HDTune to test the raw performance of the device. Therefore, I ran a series of file copy tests on it.

    The following test machine are used to load the BlackArmor.

    Lenovo Thinkpad X61
    • Intel Core2 T8100 2.1Ghz
    • 4GB RAM
    • 120GB SSD
    • Windows 7 x64

    Harddisk Performance of the Lenovo Thinkpad X61

    For comparison, I used a Synology 410j and my own storage server running Windows Storage Server 2008 R2.

    The Synology 410j is loaded with 2 1.5TB Western Digital Green HDD in RAID1 configuration.
    The Configuration of the Windows Storage Server is as below

    • Intel Core2 E5400 2.4Ghz
    • 1.5GB RAM
    • HP Smart Array P400 RAID Controller with 512MB BBWC
    • 4 x 1TB Western Digital Blue HDD in RAID6 configuration
    • Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

    I would like to point out that BlackArmor does not work well with Dlink switches or routers. I had lots of problem with performance trying to test it while connected to a DLink Gigabit switch until I found this forum thread.

    Changing to a SMC Gigabit switch solved all the problems and here are the results of the file copy.
    First, we have the file copy of the installation directory of the game Company of Heroes Online. This folder contains 6.68GB of files with the largest 1.5GB. This would be good gauge of everyday file copy operations we usually do. I used Teracopy to copy the whole folder from the Thinkpad X61 to all 3 devices.

    To further confirm the results, I copied a DVD ISO and 24GB of Nikon RAW Files to both the BlackArmor and Filer01. For the RAW File test, I added in data from a previous review of a DroboPro which was loaded with 4 x 1TB HDD configured with their beyondRAID technology.

    Lastly, I did a read test by copying the contents of the folder containing the RAW files back to the Thinkpad.

    As we can see from the benches, the BlackArmor gives about the same performance as the Synology 410j taking into consideration the better performance may be due to the RAID1 config of the Synology. The Windows Storage Server and DroboPro totally blows away both of these devices.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    RAID5 Redundancy Test

    To test the effectiveness of RAID5 on the BlackArmor, I initiated a file copy of 7GB of data to BlackArmor and pulled out one of the harddisks while the copy was in progress. Within a moment of the disk pull, the status light on the front panel turned red, and an alert on the LCD screen appeared.

    An email alert was also sent to my email account when the device detected the drive failure. Checking the web management, The events were highlighted in yellow. You will have to click on the acknowledge button to remove the event.

    The Disk Manager shows the missing drive and the Volumes menu reflected degraded RAID.

    With the RAID degraded, the file copy operation started above was still going and the performance as expected, dropped slightly to about 16 - 18MB/s.

    After the copy has finised, I plugged back the drive and checked the Disk Manager again. Now, it’s detected as a "foreign" drive.

    I have to click the button to claim the disk before going to the Volumes menu to initiate rebuilding of the RAID.

    The rebuilding process took about 9 hours. During the rebuild process, the volume remains mounted and available for users but with reduced performance.

    Client Backup

    The BlackArmor NAS 440 also ships with 10 licenses for a client-based backup software for Windows machines. Sorry Mac users, there are no Time Machine support.

    The BlackArmor’s Backup software is powered by Acronis technology. Acronis a leading company in the field of backup and imaging technologies. BlackArmor Backup is a fully-featured backup program that supports scheduled and unscheduled tasks and gives lots of control for what to backup up to the level of bare metal restore image.

    As with all backup software, when the backup is running there will be a slight performance hit in terms of disk I/O and CPU utilisation. Other then that, everything runs as it was expected.


    Despite the initial hiccups with the Setup Wizards not accepting the current date, the BlackArmor NAS 440 performs as expected in its price range. It seems to me Seagate rushed out the device before it’s fully tested, with the basic problems error in programming of the Setup Wizard and incompatibility with DLink switches and routers . I have to say that the best thing about it is the client backup software bundled with it. It’s the best backup software that I’ve seen bundled with a NAS. If you have a need for a workstation backup device, I would recommend the BlackArmor to you. If your requirements are mostly for file storage, there are many other solutions from Qnap, Synology or Drobo that comes with the additional features like Logging of system events, iSCSI, Online RAID Level Migration and Online Capacity Expansion.

    As for business applications, Online Capacity Expansion should be one of the major deciding factor for choosing storage devices, especially business class NAS. Just imagine the down time required to upgrade the harddisks from 1.5TB to 3TB when the storage of 4.5TB is maxed out. Copying 4.5TB over Gigabit Ethernet takes roughly 35hrs, assuming 36MB/s data transfer. After copying out, swap the larger HDDs in and rebuild the RAID then copy in the 4.5TB again at a rate of 20MB/s (62hrs). Total downtime in best case scenario would be about 4 - 5 days. This is totally unacceptable if you are running a business.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

  7. #7
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review


    shaddap and just shoot .... up close

  8. #8
    Senior Member commonjunks's Avatar
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    Jul 2009

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    Good review bro.
    Mind doing some network file copy and tell us what speed are you getting?
    Try doing 4~5GB single file.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    Wow this is available in SG?

    Look good...

  10. #10

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by commonjunks View Post
    Good review bro.
    Mind doing some network file copy and tell us what speed are you getting?
    Try doing 4~5GB single file.
    Single 4-5GB file average is about 20-22MB/s on Gbe.

    Quote Originally Posted by apex View Post
    Wow this is available in SG?

    Look good...
    Should be available in SG. The review unit came from Seagate Singapore.

  11. #11
    Member hkingx's Avatar
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    Singapore. North/East

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    wow, how much does this monster cost?

  12. #12
    Member iamnubie's Avatar
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    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    as i know 7200.11 got problem with the firmware, is this one free ?
    Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

  13. #13

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by iamnubie View Post
    as i know 7200.11 got problem with the firmware, is this one free ?
    These 7200.11 are with the newer firmware so should not have any issues. Those that have issues are mostly 1TB and 500GB drives from Jan 2009 and before.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by hkingx View Post
    wow, how much does this monster cost?
    US list price is USD1499 for the 8TB version. Not sure how much is it going in SG though


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