It may seem like such a natural progression but it’s taken a long time for the majority of hard disk manufacturers to see the value of NAS to small businesses. Seagate and Hitachi still won’t get their feet wet, Western Digital only moved in this year with its NetCenter family and Maxtor now joins this elite club with its latest Shared Storage products.
Maxtor is actually offering two product families with the 300GB Shared Storage version on review here. The Shared Storage Plus is physically identical and is also offered in 200GB and 300GB capacities. The only difference between the two is the software bundle as the Plus model comes with Maxtor’s SimpleView backup utility and its MediaRetriever which is aimed at networked home entertainment systems for playing back digital video, music and pictures.
Build quality of the Maxtor Shared Storage (MSS) must be seen to be believed as the case is made of very solid brushed aluminium. Those familiar with Maxtor’s One-Touch II drives will recognize this although at nearly 11in deep the Shared Storage case is around 2.5in longer and tipping the scales at 1.7kg makes it impractical as portable storage. The WD NetCenter has ventilation slits in its plastic sides negating the need for an internal fan. But as the case on the Storage Plus is sealed a small fan is located at the rear which draws air through the mesh grill at the front - thankfully noise levels are very low. A Fast Ethernet port is located at the rear along with a couple of USB 2.0 ports and the latter can be used to connect external storage devices and USB printers for sharing over the network.
The bundled Quick Start utility makes light work of installation as it searches the network and displays all discovered devices ready for selection. The utility allows you to set up shared storage where you enter your chosen user name and provide a password. It then creates shared and private folders on the drive and adds an icon for them on the desktop. This is quite slick as it creates private folders for storing documents, music, software and photos while your public folder also contains the same number of directories. Maxtor’s Drag and Sort tool will also prove useful as dragging and dropping a folder onto your desktop icon automatically scans the files and places them into the relevant folder based on their file extension.