Freecom Network Drive Pro 500 Gb – a sad story

Freecom Network Drive Pro 500 Gb - good idea, terrible software and supportFor purposes of my home network, I needed small, decent file server which would be on all the time and serve as a central point for rest of the machines.

After researching (and checking availability here in Serbia), Freecom Network Drive Pro 500 Gb looked as a more than correct solution: it is not just a file server, it is also web server, ftp server, and basically mini Linux machine – it has even torrent client.

I could not wait to get unit – as all geeks, I adore good piece of hardware 🙂

It looked as promised – nice, compact aluminum unit, with web administration interface; it stated that current firmware is 4.2.7

Unit was connected to network via LinkSys WAG325N and I start experimenting. At first, all seemed ok (apart from unit freezing once). Than I started with more serious tasks – created couple of network shares and started copying files from/to ND Pro 500 from Windows based (XP, Vista) stations, via Explorer, Total Commander and couple of file/backup oriented applications.

Than it happened: file on ND Pro 500 was different (!!!) than source file on local PC in a “special” case:

  • Copy file from PC to ND Pro 500; note size
  • Make file on PC shorter (for example, if text is in question, remove couple of characters or lines)
  • Copy new version of file from PC to ND Pro 500

File on ND Pro 500 will retain old size and content of file will be: new version content + rest of the bytes from old file version; or, in other words, unusable, which you usualy do not expect from (not-so-cheap) consumer unit to do; at least, file server should protect my data instead of corrupting them.

I started usual route; wrote to Freecom support (30th November) as well as posted message in OpenFSG forum – forum which appears on administrative pages of Network Drive Pro 500. I was not happy seeing that load of users have similar problems.

What is often case these days, it seems that need for quality drivers/firmwares in neglected in favor of “sell, sell, sell and majority of byers won’t even notice that this does not do what is promised”.

I got no response from support. Call them on phone; they stated that they never heard for this (well, for what is OpenFGS forum than?) and that I should write them again. Did that. Forwarded mail and just get “forwarded to R&D, awaiting their response”.

Nothing.

Then they asked for my phone (06th December), I gave my mobile.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

After a couple of days (10th December) I decided that this is enough – just returned whole unit and took full refund back. To be honest: I do not expect that someone make firmware correction in two days; I know software production very well – make change, build, test, correct problems, build, test … But I did expect that someone:

  • Contact me
  • Confirm findings
  • Give decent estimate when new firmware will be out

My advice: do not buy units from Freecom; maybe their idea is great, but realization is not and support is close to none; and those products should take care of most important stuff in electronic world – your data.

Or, if you are brave enough 🙂 check forums first and firmware version second – you can save a lot of frustrations.

(Note: all above goes for Windows clients; apparently, there are no such problems if your client is Mac or Linux)

15 thoughts on “Freecom Network Drive Pro 500 Gb – a sad story”

  1. I have the 1tb datatank gateway from Freecom. I too was VERY anscious to get this piece of hardware, but ever since receiving it, it’s just been “ow bummer” every time I look into the next service it provides.
    Something as simple as ftpserver. This units configuration for the ftp-server includes
    enable yes/no
    enable to outside yes/no
    port number _____
    and that is it ladies and gentlemen!
    I lmao when I saw this.
    The wlan is unstable – when working, but with current firmware it switches off completely every 2-3 days. Even thou it states gigabit lan, I wasn’t able to copy data faster than 12,5mb/sec to the tank, or in other words, ½ usb data transfer rate. This was using a computer ofc with gbit lan, a cat6 stp cable (state of the art).
    The dhcp server doesn’t offer client address reservation from mac. And on top of that, it offers addresses totally random over the range. Give it range x.x.x.10-30 and boot up a fresh machine connected and it might get the address x.x.x.27 how whack is that?
    Connecting a spare drive to the usb port, and it managed to wipe all data on it larger than 2gb, goodbye dvd images. (even thou the internal discs are running ntfs)
    Connecting a printer to the usb of the tank, and ad the printer as networkprinter to a windows vista ultimate = print halts when it’s supposed to finish the print and push it out of the printer (paper is printed with all the text) Printer has to be hardreset after that. (work fine over windows xp btw)
    So…
    Wlan = occasionally
    ftp = lmao
    http = not needed, sticking with my pcserver for this
    gigabit switch = shows up as connected to a 1gbps network, but transfer speed capped at 12,5mb/sec
    printer server = yeah, if you don’t have vista
    extra storage attached to usb = yeah if you have an old fat drive, with no data of importance you dare connecting to it

    All in all, I should return this piece of crap too, but seing as I got it from GB and live in DK, I don’t intend to go through the hassle just yet, guess I’ll give them one, maybe 2 months more for getting the software in order. Otherwise I’ll just sell it as a 1gb storage here on the used market, cuss really, thats the only thing this box is atm.

  2. I can confirm that WLAN was unstable; transfer over 100Mb was around 5Mb/sec.

    It is ridiculous that companies selling what should be most important – place for your data – are so bad in testing their own software before releasing product.

    I know that time to market is very important, but not _that important_

  3. Awfull
    I seriously advice anyone thinking of buying this to think again.
    On paper it looks like a pretty nifty bit of kit, in reality it has come to market far to early & is plagued with bugs.

    a 300gb file takes 40 seconds to write to the hard drive, yet it take 7 minutes to write the same file to a usb stick plugged into its “usb 2.0” ports

    if you overwrite a file with a modified but smaller version of the same file, it doesn’t, it just looses your newer version and keeps the old!

    gigabit lan users may be interested to know hat when writing to the HD, your network utilisation will be approx 6%.

    I so far have lost 1 ISO file to the NDP, due to a cyclic redundancy check, after moving the iso file from 1 directory to another!

    there are a host of other issues

    please check the forums before you buy, this should be a good product when the bugs are ironed out, but for a “PRO” device (laugh) the bugs should be ironed out before release.

    http://forum.freecompromo.com/viewforum.php?f=1
    http://www.openfsg.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=23&sid=7cbe9d01a8d21bf5503bb6db636c4f90

    THis firmware version 4.7.2 (I think) should be a beta release, Its just so shocking.

  4. Have the same problems – could anybody advice on a different NDP/NAS brand that have the same capabilities and features as supposed to be contained in the Freecom solution – but actually works?

  5. Well, I gave up of NAS solution. Will build machine with 2 x 500Gb disks in RAID 1, energy efficient processor (AMD LE or similar) and put Windows Home Server or something like that – it should not cost more than 150€ on top of Freecom NDP 500 price.

    Only problem is space (you need to find space for yet another machine).

    On other side, you have full blown machine and not NAS like Freecom one.

  6. I use D-Link’s DNS-323 NAS. It too have finicky firmware and had its share of teething problems when it was introduced. For instance, its ext3 support was so buggy that eventually D-Link decided it’s not worth the trouble and completely disabled it in 1.03 firmware, leaving ext2 as only option.

    1.03 is not perfect either and we (owners of this little box) ope that D-Link will release 1.04 somewhere in 2008. It takes them about 1 year per each 0.01 release. 🙁

    Good side is very active community at http://forum.dsmg600.info/f3-DNS-323-General-Discussion.html so it’s bearable. Takes very little space and has Gigabit ethernet.

  7. Well, one thing that came out of this Freecom NAS experiment is conclusion that I really love real server 🙂

    Apart from space (major obstacle) and price (still in trial mode, so free) all other points are on side of decent, stable and full-proof server.

    So, staying with Windows Home 🙂

  8. Well, my drive is great – it works well.
    You have http, ftp, ssh access etc. etc. which you don’t get anywhere else without hacking the firmware.
    I get up to 50Mbps data rates which is fine.
    I can access it from XP, Vista and Ubuntu and so far no data corruption problems at all.
    I don’t use it as a backup – I use it as my main network fileserver and backup from it to an external USB drive.
    The only problem I had was that the built in Backup to it’s own USB port is not very intuative and doesn’t give you much info on what’s going on.
    Apart from that it’s far better than alternatives such as Maxtor and Western Digital that lock you down totally.
    Cool drive!

  9. Good for you Paul 🙂

    But, if you do have 4.2.7 firmware, I strongly suggest to test drive in a way stated in post.

    You won’t get corruption straight away, only if you are saving new (shorter) version of file over longer.

    Regards,
    Dejan

  10. Well, I got mine yesterday (Network Drive Pro 1TB). Firmware 4.7.2 and I can confirm the above issue as far as I’ve tested with the ND and Vista.

    There also seems to be occasions where copied files are padded with additional bytes (zeroes).

    And the network performance is awful (max ~60mbps on a gigabit LAN)

    Luckily DABS (dabs4work.com) incorrectly sent me a previously returned drive (it had “Net Drive 4” written in blue marker pen on the top) so they will be getting the unit back and I think I will be paying a bit extra for a Netgear ReadyNAS unit (but need to do a bit of homework first!

    Shame, but this unit is definitely “unfit for purpose”.

  11. Hey guys, its time to stop griping about it. 🙂

    its all fixed now

    first official firmware release 4.4.2 fixes all

    (previous beta release was the fix actually 3.8.4

    even the source code is out.

    & ipkg packages are on line, not all work at the moment ie the C++ ones, but its being worked on by a strong community.

    Now i do recomend this drive, its as good as it should have been 3 months ago , lol

    but i’m glad i hung in there

    M

  12. Hi, bought the Freecom 1TB network drive. Formatted to NTFS whilst connected via USB to my XP Pro PC (through Administrative Tools and then Computer Management in Control Panel). Plugged back into wireless broadband Router using ethernet cable.

    Now everytime I try to Map to drive and open it (i.e. entering “\FNDPublic” I keep getting prompted for a password, the username in the username box is “FNDGuest” and cannot be changed. I only know the password supplied when I bought it “Admin”. I cannot access the drive. Will I have to convert back to FAT32 or will a Firmware update release work.

    Please help.

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