Buffalo's DriveStation storage devices have traditionally supported direct connections over USB or FireWire but the latest 2Share adds an extra dimension as it offers both network and USB ports which you can swap between as the mood takes you.
Pressing the button at the front determines which interface is active so you can have it connected to your PC for local backup and storage duties and make it available to network users in a matter of seconds. The 2Share is a solid little block of plastic with the review unit equipped with a 500GB SATA drive but there are also 640GB and 1TB versions available. The button incorporates an LED that glows red for USB mode and green for network and there's also a blue disk activity light at the top.
Buffalo's quick start routine guides you through connecting the USB port and loading the TurboUSB performance enhancer. The 2Share is a standard external hard disk so all drivers are loaded automatically and then it's over to setting up the network side of things. Just press the button to change the status LED from orange to green and then continue the installation where it'll place a shortcut on the desktop for accessing the predefined network share.
The 2Share offers a basic set of NAS features that become abundantly clear on first contact with the sparse web interface. The home page opens with a brief status report on the appliance and then you can move on to changing its host name, configuring the date and time and setting network parameters.
Administrative access is open by default but you can password protect it and once this has been done you can also activate file share security. This applies the admin name and associated password to all network shares so you can't have multiple users and dish out access to selected shares.
Not that the 2Share uses much power but you can make it even greener with Buffalo's Eco options. The first is accessed from the web interface where you set the drive to go into a sleep mode after between ten and 60 minutes of inactivity on the network port. The other is Buffalo's Eco Manager which supports a USB connection to the host system and allows you to place the drive in sleep mode on demand or after a set period of up to one hour.
If you're taking the 2Share on the road its data can be secured with the SecureLockMobile utility. You don't need to install anything as this is run directly from either the CD-ROM or the main share on the appliance. It's a doddle to use as you create an encryption box on the appliance, assign a sensible password and select files and folders which are then encrypted. To access them you run the utility, open the box and provide the correct password - simple.