Short Version: Hard drives that claim to do it all are a dime-a-dozen. Finally, however, I’ve found one that delivers on those claims.
We’ve seen a lot of hard drives at CG so far. Some of them, like the the IoMega Home Media Network Hard Drive seemed to deliver what they advertised, namely a centralized server for media in the home. However, in my experience I’ve always come away slightly disappointed with the web-based sharing systems many of these hard drives had to offer.
When I opened the Netgear Stora I was expecting the same “meh” reaction. After all, I’ve seen UPnP compatible drives before. However, on hooking up the Stora I was pleased to discovered that things worked as advertised.
First, the drive appears on your computer as a Windows Share, DLNA, and UPnP-compatible storage location. It is literally as plug and play as you get. If you want to get fancy, however, you need to create a login. This will then place the drive on the Internet, allowing you to browse and share files with anyone in the world. For example, you can stick your collection of photos on the drive to share with your family or you can stick on important files that you can then play or download remotely. The Stora has a built-in web interface that is quite robust and useful and, more importantly, it’s quite fast. The software comes from HipServ, a company that has produced web solutions for other hard drive OEMs including Iomega.
The version I tested, a 1TB drive, came clad in a black plastic case and was completely silent. The biggest issue I found was that the front panel, designed to hide the drives inside, popped off far too easily for my liking. If this drive is designed to sit quietly in a corner, that’s fine. However, if you have nosy kids around they could put a sandwich into the open drive slot.
That leads us to the second drive bay. The $229 version comes with 1TB drive already installed. You can add a second SATA or SATA II drive and the drive supports RAID 1 mirroring.
Some problems: the Stora application, which is essentially a launcher, starts itself automatically when you turn on your computer. This is bad. The web portion also includes a 30-day trial of the premium Stora services which include Flickr and RSS support. You don’t really need this, but I suppose it’s nice to have. I also ran into some problems with Flash playback of videos. This is minor, however, as you can easily download the file to view it.
The Stora just works. It’s not too expensive for a NAS and mirroring makes it a bit better as a back-up solution. The included software and web-based management system will seal the deal for most home users.
Product Page: Netgear Stora MS2110 Product Page