So I’ve been looking into setting up a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive for my home network. I initially had the following requirements (ranked in order):

1. Ethernet connectivity (obvious)
2. USB connectivity as well for portability
3. SMB sharing (for Xbox)
4. FTP server
5. Web based administration
6. Flexible rights management

The contenders:

Ximeta Netdisk
Tritton Tech
Netgear WGT634U
Linksys NSLU2
Buffalo Linkstation

Most of the options here are hard drives with integrated NAS systems except in the case of the Linksys and Netgear products. These are different because they simply provide the bridge between any external USB drive to become a NAS unit. The advantage here is that you have the freedom to choose a drive / case combination that best suits you. Also, you can buy the parts to build such a drive for considerable less than the ones being bundled by other NAS vendors. if you choose to upgrade to a larger drive at a later time this can be done as well. Keep in mind that the Buffalo Linkstation does allow for an additional drive to be plugged in to the back of it as well for expandability.

I quickly found out that there is no solution that provided all of the features that I wanted. So I had to prioritize my requirements in such a way that I would be compromising for what best suited me. By using this methodology, the closest and most flexible solution was the Linksys. The ability to connect the drive directly to a computer via USB is only available on the Ximeta Netdisk. But the Linksys formats the drive using the linux ext3 file system. There are various tools that if installed, allow this file system to be mounted and read from a computer by plugging the drive in via USB. This enables the ability to read the data, although writing is a bit more of an issue due to the slow speeds.

I will be buying the Linksys shortly and provide a report.I would have probably chosen the Ximeta except that it requires software to be installed on all machines to access it via the network. I also don’t believe it would have provided the ability for me to access it from the Xbox.

I will also create a functionality grid for all of these personal NAS solutions and provide it as well.

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