Maxtor Shared Storage II 1TB NAS

Hardware Review by: Sallie Goetsch, September 2006
Manufactured by: Maxtor
Requires: Router with available 10/100/1000 port; 128MB RAM; Pentium III, 500MHz or equivalent processor; Windows 2000/XP/Media Center or Mac OS 10.3.9
MSRP: US$799.95

As a reward for my faithful authorship of the FileSlinger™ Backup Blog for the past three years, Maxtor offered me my pick of drives, and I picked the new Shared Storage II Terabyte Baby Network Area Storage (NAS) drive, still listed as “pre-order” on the Maxtor web site.

I can't say it’s a thing of beauty. In fact, it resembles nothing so much as a car battery. At four inches in thickness and six pounds in weight, it’s got about twice the heft of ordinary external drives—but it's both quieter and cooler than the hard drives in my laptop. I've had it running continuously for well over a week, and it’s no warmer to the touch now than it was when I first installed it.

The basic setup, which creates the drive’s public folders, is very simple: connect the network cable to the router and plug in the power supply, then install the software and reboot. Voila! A new machine appears under My Network Places.


I definitely recommend reading the user’s guide in detail before you start transferring massive quantities of data over to the drive, however. And go through the administrative interface to check things out too. Since the box said "Automatic RAID 1 mirroring", I assumed the drive defaulted to RAID 1 configuration, but I was wrong. It was set for spanning (RAID 0) instead of mirroring. There are two drives inside that gray & black box, each with 500GB of storage space. Spanning means they imitate one big drive. Mirroring (RAID 1 to the geeks out there) means that the second drive automatically and exactly duplicates the first, and if the first drive fails for some reason, the second will take over. It's important to decide which one you want before you start copying massive quantities of data onto the drive. For the uninitiated, RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks.

There was a small hitch in setting up the user accounts. In addition to the public share, which is accessible to anyone on the network and comes populated with folders named Our Documents, Our Software, Our Photos, and the like, you can create separate private accounts on the drive. When I went to set up a new user account, Maxtor EasyManage suggested Sallie Goetsch as a name—logical, and probably pulled from Windows, as that's my logon name. But spaces aren't allowed in user names, as the manual told me when I went back to consult it in detail. Instead of refusing to create an account with an invalid name, EasyManage created an account and mounted it as my Z: drive—but wouldn't let me put any data onto it.

Once I figured out the problem, deleted that account, and created a new one with an appropriate name, it worked fine. Except that I still saw that supposedly-erased user name under My Network Places in Windows Explorer. There was nothing in the user guide about this problem (in fact, it seems to lack a troubleshooting section altogether, which seems more than a bit optimistic on Maxtor's part). I went online to look at the support web site, and there was nothing about it there either. Eventually I thought to delete the link to the alleged drive share from Windows Explorer, and that did the trick.

Mostly just to see how it works, I set up the EasyManage file backup on Astarte (I name all of my computer, drives and partitions). It exactly duplicates the directory structure surrounding the folders you're backing up. That means that if you check My Documents as something you want backed up, it appears in the My Backups folder as C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\My Documents. That's quite limiting, and there are no filters to include or exclude specific folders, file types and so on. Backup scheduling is limited to once per day, though you can go in and press the Back Up Now button at any time. On the plus side, it offers Historical Versions—you can save several different instances of the same file. Overall, I'd class Easy Manage as better than nothing, but nothing to write home about.

Network backups using Symantec Ghost Corporate 8 (still my favorite drive imaging program) work like a charm, though they are slightly slower than USB 2.0 high speed. (If I had a gigabit network, they'd be much faster, as the Shared Storage II has the capacity to operate at 1000Mb). Network backup of my second, older laptop, which has only a USB 1.1 port, was dramatically faster than over a USB connection.

The Shared Storage II isn't for everyone. Even small businesses may require more traditional (and much more expensive) NAS appliances with greater capacities and RAID 6, depending on how data-intensive they are. At the other end of the spectrum there are those who don't have a network at all, and who probably won't produce a terabyte of data in the next ten years.

But there are plenty of homes and offices in between that would benefit from a compact, reliable, easy-to-use combination baby NAS device and media server. I'm delighted with mine, though of course if Western Digital and LaCie want to send me some competition to compare with the Maxtor Shared Storage II 1TB, I won't turn them down.

KSN Product Rating:





© Copyright 2000-2007 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | hot news | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe