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Acer easyStore H340 2TB - Acer easyStore H340 2TB
Backups from a PC to the easyStore H340 are considerably less fraught. A normal NAS might bundle software letting you configure backups to a schedule of your choice, but the H340 makes things even easier. Using the Windows Home Server Console you can set the H340 to periodically reach out and take a backup of any Windows PC on your network. It's so simple I reckon that even the simplest simian could cope with it.
What's particularly nifty is that those computers can be woken remotely to be backed up, and will power down again once it is complete. Primarily this serves a power saving device, but it also means that if you meant to leave your system on to be backed up, but turned it off for some reason, any scheduled backup will still take place.
Remote access is handled particularly well. If you have a Windows Live login (which most of us do, if only for our Messenger or Xbox Live accounts) then you can tie the H340 to a web address at homeserver.com (in the format yourname.homeserver.com). You might note that other NAS devices offer similar solutions, but what's outstanding about the WHS implementation is that it also gives you access to shared files on computers on your home network, if you so desire, which is pretty cool.
The H340 takes care of media streaming well, too. Any uPnP device should have no problem picking up any file it can play from any shared drives on the H340. Acer has also pre-installed the common Firefly iTunes server, which will monitor your shared folders and push compatible files to iTunes, be that on a PC or Mac.
Another benefit of Windows Home Server, and thus the H340, is the ability to install add-ins. One particularly useful one has been pre-installed by Acer: Lights Out. This enables you to set a schedule for the H340 to power up and down, using a useful calendar view. If you're particularly into your power saving, setting the H340 to turn off while you're at work, and back on again before you arrive home might well appeal. Other add-ons not included, but which I would highly recommend include an FTP management system, Time Machine compatibility, if you have any Macs at home, and the somewhat useful uTorrent.
Better still, that's just what's available using the management console. Many NAS boxes can have third party applications installed, too, but Windows Home Server can also run just about any application that will run on a desktop PC. If you're feeling brave, you can use Remote Desktop to take complete control of the H340 and install just about any program you like. A prime choice would be WinRAR and a funky little program called AutoExtractor, which (who would have guessed) automatically extracts RAR'd torrents on completion - I'll leave you to guess why that might prove useful.
The Acer easyStore H340 is keenly priced and well featured. Windows Home Server's simple initial setup process belies its underlying capacity to be hugely customised by a willing user. NAS devices are so 2009, what you really want is a home server.
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