To use WebShare you need to enable remote access but first you must secure the appliance by creating an administrative account. Then you need to give the appliance a web address and for this you get a year's free use of the TZO DDNS (dynamic DNS) service after which the standard service will cost around £20 per year. There's much more as you now need to set up port forwarding on your router to allow inbound access to the appliance.
The automatic function uses UPnP to configure compliant routers and it said it was successful with our Belkin N1 Vision but further investigation showed it hadn't actually done anything to the router leaving us to configure virtual server entries for HTTP and HTTPS manually. However, with these port forwarding rules in action we could now access the appliance remotely using the DDNS address and view and upload photographs. The user interface is nicely designed allowing you to create and present different photo albums, add more photos to them using the upload tool and run slideshows. You can also manage visitors from here and decide who is allowed to view your albums, download pictures and add their own photos. You can notify all or selected visitors of new photo additions where they'll receive an email with a message and a link to the album.
Data backup is where the mv5020 shines as you have a plethora of options to choose from. The Simple Backup option uses the bundled NTI Shadow utility to secure data from common folders or custom locations on your PC and offers the option to run it regularly or have changes saved as you make them. Alternatively you can back up an entire local volume to it using the supplied NTI DriveBackup utility and copy the contents of the appliance to an external USB drive. There's also an option to use the Spare Backup hosted remote backup service which costs around £75 per year for 40GB of storage space.
General file sharing performance is reasonable as copying a 690MB video clip between the appliance and a Boston Supermicro 3.2GHz Pentium D workstation over Gigabit Ethernet returned read and write speeds of 16.9MB/sec and 13.5MB/sec respectively. Media streaming services are provided where you can stream pictures, videos and music to digital media adapters from selected folders and fire up the appliance's iTunes server which can be set to check for new music files in shared folders at selected intervals.
General appliance configuration is carried out from a separate web interface that looks very similar to that presented by WHS appliances. You can view free and used storage capacity and see the status of the hard disks. New users are created here and you can dish out access privileges to shared folders as well. However, unlike WHS you cannot install extra Add-Ins to the interface.
HP's little NAS appliance certainly looks good value and scores well for its range of backup facilities making it well worth considering for this feature alone. Performance is reasonable and although configuration wasn't plain sailing the Photo WebShare feature is another nice touch