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Review: Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 Home Server

Written on Nov 18, 2009 by Brian and filed under Reviews

With the mass of media files most of us are collecting across various computers, it’s getting more important to find a way to not only preserve that repository, but to also make it consumable on just about anything, including computers and home theaters. Lenovo has an offering to solve just that pain, the IdeaCentre D400 Home Server. The D400 features up to 8 terabytes of storage space across four disks, auto-backup options for networked computers, easy file transfer and a host of other features that make it not only easy to use, but perhaps more importantly, easy to forget about.

Lenovo IdeaCentre D400

Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 rear

Getting Started

The easy to forget about feature, while not listed on the spec sheet, is one of the most important in my book. We’ve been using the D400 in our offices for a few weeks now and it really is easy to forget that it’s even in use. One day one I configured the machine, which includes plugging in power and connecting to the Internet, not exactly a tall order. After the requisite Microsoft file updates, you’re ready to get started.

In the most basic implementation, just copy over your important photos, videos, music…whatever you like, to the D400. As part of the simplicity in operation, Lenovo has the D400 already configured with shared folders for popular items (music, photos, public, recorded TV, software and videos). Even better, after the install they drop a shared folder on your desktop to make it easy to access these folders on the PC. Users also get a nice dashboard-style interface to keep an eye on what’s going on.

home server console

To get started, I transferred my MP3 library to the D400 by simply copying and pasting the files to the shared music folder. While that operating was running, I milled around in the Home Server software and set up a backup routine for my laptop. While not exactly a home theater feature, the D400 can manage auto-backups of any computers connected to the network, a convenient way to securely keep copies of your machine on hand should you lose a hard drive or have some other data catastrophe.

computer backup

Using the D400

Of course once you have all your files on the server, they’re simple to access from a computer, home theater PC or even through one of the dozens of popular media streamers that are network connected. I’m currently testing the Netgear Digital Entertainer Live. All it took was two button presses on the Netgear to find the shared folders on the IdeaCentre D400. In under 10 seconds I was streaming content to an HDTV…simple.

There’s a ton more that the D400 has to offer, I hesitate to get bogged down in the PC details (Lenovo D400 Spec Sheet) on a home theater site, but I’ll highlight some of the other features the Lenovo offers, as this is an increasingly competitive space and the spec sheets don’t tell the entire story:

  • If you ever need to quickly copy and backup files on a USB drive, just plug it into the D400 and with a single button press on the server, it grabs the contents of the USB drive.
  • The D400 has four drive bays, our review unit came equipped with two 1TB drives. The drives are hot swapable though and don’t have to be matched in brand or size. Just seat the drive in the bay, and with a few button presses in the Home Server software, you can configure a new or existing drive just about any way you like.
  • Not only will the system backup computers and other devices on the network, it backs itself up as well by copying the contents of the primary drive to the backup.
  • The D400 has a built-in flash drive allows easy data recovery and prevents data lost in the event of a system problem.

Bottom Line

With digital video distribution, movie download services, music collections, digital photos, software backups and the thousands of documents and other files most of us wish to protect, a $500 (D400 starting price) is a reasonable investment for a product of this nature. We love the Lenovo reliability, ease of use and forget-ability. Really, aside from the software updates the user is prompted to install from time to time, there’s nothing to worry about. If there’s ever a problem, the server lets you know, and with the built in recovery tools and redundant data backup, what’s to worry about?

After a few weeks with the D400, we’re very pleased with the user experience, data security and availability not just on the PC, but within the home theater environment as well.

Rating – 5 out of 5 Stars – Editor’s Choice

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Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 drive bays

Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 front usb

Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 rear ports


One Response to “Review: Lenovo IdeaCentre D400 Home Server”

  1. Thats one pretty piece of machine!

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