If you work in a small office or have a multi-computer home, then chances are you still use the good old "sneakernet" to transfer files from one system to another. For the uninitiated, "sneakernet" is when you move files using a physical, removable device--such as a USB flash drive--which you actually walk from one PC to another (thus the sneakers--"loafernet" just doesn't have the same ring to it). Another popular method is e-mailing a file from one system to another--not necessarily the most efficient means of transferring data when the two systems are mere feet apart from one another. But what is a cash-strapped, low-tech business or home suppose to do? Network file servers--like the ones in large offices--cost thousands of dollars, right?
Wrong. The price of physical file storage has been steadily dropping for years, making centralized storage more affordable and ever closer to the reach of small business owners and multi-PC homes. Numerous storage vendors have been beefing up their centralized storage product selections for these market segments for a number of years now--with steadily dropping prices and ever easier-to-operate solutions. Perhaps Western Digital (WD) was just waiting for the right price point, but it has finally--if not a little late to the game--entered the SOHO (small office, home office) space with its centralized storage product, the WD ShareSpace.
| Credit: Western Digital|
The WD ShareSpace is small (7.7 x 6.3 x 6.3-inch HxWxD, 10.8 pound), four drive-bay storage system with "up to 4 TB of storage capacity and multiple RAID configurations
." The unit features a 10/100/1000-Mbps Ethernet connection and two USB 2.0 connections on its backside, as well as a single USB 2.0 connection on its front. It comes in two configurations: a two-drive, 2TB version for $699.99, and a four-drive, 4TB version for $999.99. The 2TB version ships with the two drives set to Spanning Mode, which acts like a single drive volume. The 4TB version ships preset to RAID 5 mode. The ShareSpace can also be reconfigured to support RAID 0 and RAID 1. (You need to have all four drive bays populated to use RAID 5.)
WD claims that the ShareSpace is easy to set up: "An intuitive set-up wizard and easy-to-use discovery tool makes installation a snap
." For less-tech savvy users, anything less can be a deal-breaker. We hope to get one in-house and will evaluate just how easy it really is to set up and use. On the other hand, the ShareSpace take a few best practices from big business-based centralized storage: it performs self-monitoring and can be configured to send you an e-mail if it detects any potential problems; it supports Microsoft Active Directory (AD) support for AD users and groups; and it includes an integrated FTP server.
The front-mounted USB port is designed to be used as an easy means for backing up USB-based drives. Just attach a drive and press the backup button to automatically backup the entire contents of the USB drive to the ShareSpace. The two rear-mounted USB ports can be used "for backup or additional network storage
The ShareSpace also comes with software that can be installed on up to three computers on your network that can be configured to automatically perform scheduled backups. Using WD's MioNet service, you can even remotely access your ShareSpace system from any Internet connection. The ShareSpace also includes an iTunes server for centralized media storage.
The ShareSpace comes with WD drives that use "WD GreenPower technology
," which the company claims "consumes up to 33% less power
[than non-WD GreenPower-based drives], is reliably cool, and remarkably quiet
." The ShareSpace is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista and Mac OS 10.4.11 or higher.