Fusion and NetDisk Portable

Fusion and NetDisk Portable

Both of these drives can store data on your network, but the brick on the right (the Fusion) also lets you tap into it from the Net.


If you think that network-attached storage devices are too extravagant, you're missing out on the convenience of having one central place on your home network to store your files. You don't have to be an IT expert to install the NetDisk Portable or the Fusion network storage devices. Both drives offer vastly different features; the NetDisk Portable is for basic file storage while the Fusion also lets you access your files remotely.


NetDisk Portable. This sturdy hard drive comes with a USB port that lets you use it as a desktop hard drive, and an Ethernet port that enables a network storage setup-you can't use both connections simultaneously. Either way, connecting the NetDisk Portable is a one-second process: You just plug it in. For this review, we focused on the NetDisk Portable's network storage capabilities.


To set it up, we first downloaded version 1.6.2 of the NetDisk software driver and the Mac manual from Ximeta's website. You can't mount the NetDisk Portable on your Desktop without the software (the drive doesn't use an IP address, so you can't connect via Go > Connect To Server). Once the NetDisk Portable is on the Desktop, you have to use Apple's Disk Utility to format it so it can work with your Mac. That's because, at the factory, Ximeta formats the drive in NTFS, a Windows file format that Macs can only read (not write).


Once it's formatted, dragging files to and from the drive is effortless, but a vague spinning wheel indicates the copy progress. We'd like a better time indicator. Ximeta warns that you can't have two or more computers accessing the disk at the same time or you'll get errors and possible bad file copies-and you will.


The software that came with our review unit wasn't Universal, and our Intel-based Macs couldn't see the NetDrive Portable on our network. Ximeta did send beta software that worked with Intel Macs. Hopefully, the updated software will be shipping to the public soon.


Fusion. The Fusion is made for dedicated network storage. It connects to your router via Ethernet, and you need to set up an IP address for it. You can also set up the Fusion for access over the Internet, so if you're at a client's office or at work and you need a file on the Fusion, you can get to it remotely. For Internet access, you need to set up a free Dynamic DNS account with No-IP.com or DynDNS.org. Setting up the Fusion for either network or Internet access isn't as pain-free as setting up the network-access-only NetDisk Portable, but Maxtor's installer software does a nice job of holding your hand through the process.


When the Fusion is established as a network drive, you can access it though a desktop icon and drag and drop files. To get to the Fusion over the Internet, you must use the Web-based Fabrik software and Mozilla Firefox (Safari won't work). Fabrik is truly fabulous-it has tagging and privacy tools to help make finding files over the Internet more efficient, and the interface is simple and no-nonsense.


A pair of USB ports can be used for connecting additional drives, which must be formatted in FAT32. The drive's fan noise is noticeable from within 20 feet but it won't keep you awake if your office is right next to your bedroom.


The bottom line. If router and Internet settings give you the chills and all you want is a simple file storage on your network, consider the NetDisk Portable; just check the software if you have an Intel Mac. The Fusion will need more attention as you set it up, but it's a more robust, and frankly better-designed, network and Internet storage device.


NetDisk Portable:
CONTACT: www.ximeta.com
PRICE: $149.99-$369.99; $79.99 for enclosure only
REQUIREMENTS: G4 or faster, Mac OS 10.2 or later, 128MB RAM, USB for direct Mac connection, Ethernet switch or router for network connection
Can be used as a network or desktop drive. No need to mess
with DHCP settings.
Software for Intel Macs is beta. Multiple users write at once. Manual needs updating.




CONTACT: www.maxtor.com
PRICE: $799.95
REQUIREMENTS: G3 or faster or 1.66MHz Intel Core Duo or faster, Mac OS 10.4 or later, 256MB RAM, Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or later, Ethernet router
Excellent Web-based access software. Expandable storage.
You'll need to fiddle with router and Dynamic DNS settings. Noisy.





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