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Customer Review

on 3 October 2013
Size: Enclosure|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although I am generally quite happy to tinker with things such as NAS drives (I have a multi drive NAS where I installed Linux operating system on directly) the idea of a work-out-the-box home network drive has a lot of appeal. By this I mean a device which can be left on all the time, can store everyone's files (private and shared), can connect to a printer and play videos on TV. In terms of size this device is surprisingly small yet in terms of features it packs a lot in.

Installation is a case of installing the drives, connecting it to the network, and running some software on a PC (Mac install is also available). It finds the drive easily and despite mine seemingly wanting to configure it in a way other than I intended (I will put that down to my user error) it is fairly intuitive. I was a bit annoyed I had to install the software on my PC as the configuration afterwards can be done by website. I would have thought connecting it via USB would allow you to set the IP address and then you would be good to go (perhaps you can do this, but I did not find it in the instructions).

I configured mine in RAID-1 which means you have two hard drives installed of the same size, and they store identical information. This is really important for important files (perhaps photos and videos) as it means if there is a drive failure, the other drive has a copy. To install RAID 1 you have to let the drives synchronise which takes ages.

Once up and running you can do all sorts of clever permissioning with different users accessing different folders. For a family that might be really useful as you can each have your own folders and then have some shared ones (eg. movies or music). There is also something called WebAccess which lets you access the drive over the Internet. I would suggest avoiding that as from a security perspective it seems a problem waiting to happen.

Overall the file server works well, and it is easy to add various shares, configure FTP if you want, and generally use the system as a file server.

That said I am looking for more, in terms of multimedia. Happily this device supports DLNA which is a technology for streaming video files across a network. It means I can watch movies from the server on my iPhone when at home, on a computer or on a newish TV. It works well and from what I've seen so far there is good codec support (ie. different file formats). There is also an iTunes server which I did not use.

You can also share a printer. This is useful because generally if you want a network printer at home you have to leave a computer on. This device uses much less power so is a better solution. It does have a Print Server mode, but it is disappointing as it is not "bi-directional". This means that information sent from the printer to the computer (eg. ink levels) cannot be displayed. It also means multifunction devices with scanners will not work. There is the option to use a "USB Device Server" which means you install some software on all PCs or Macs that want it, and you can then access the multifunction device. This works okay, but you can only use it one person at a time (so don't accidentally leave it connected) and it means you have to install the software. For less fussy users this is fine.

I am conscious that others have said this device is quiet, but I have to disagree. There is a small fan at the back but from what I have seen so far there is no speed control (ie. it slows down and is therefore quieter when it does not need to operate). I need to leave this on 24x7 so the noise is noticeable when there is no other sound.

Overall this device is good, especially if you want a non-obtrusive network server in the house for lots of people to share. The print server and noise are negatives for me, but given the price point and the size of it, I think it is a very good product if what you want to do is covered above.
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