This Netgear Storage Central SC101 comes without any hard drives fitted. You have to buy the IDE hard drive (or drives) separately at a cost of around £120 per 500GB drive, although the lower-capacity drives are cheaper.

There's also no built-in fan. This could be a more critical issue if you use the Netgear device to its maximum capability by slotting two hard drives into the case.

Whether you insert one or two drives, the procedure is the same in that you turn a coin-slotted screw in the front panel, remove the panel completely and then slide in the drives. If you're using two drives, you just need to change the jumpers so that one is configured as the master and the other as the slave.

Soft options

While the case lacks a fan, it does have an aluminium case with a heatsink-like arrangement on the top and bottom surface to enhance heat dissipation. Even so, it's a good idea to make sure that you use it in a well-ventilated area.

Netgear's supporting software is pleasantly friendly. Having said that, you do need to run the installation wizard on every PC on the network that you want to be able to share the drive, which can be a bit of a chore. Yet once that's done the drive appears with a proper drive letter for easy access.

Despite the security of automatic mirroring options, if you fit two hard drives in the Netgear, one glaring omission is the lack of a USB port, should you want to connect an external hard drive for back-up purposes.

It isn't bad in the DIY stakes, but the Netgear still falls short of the functionality offered by most of the fully assembled NAS drives around.