At $400, its hard to beat the price of Ximetas NetDisk Office external 250GB hard disk drive. Released earlier this year, the unit can be connected to a LAN via Ethernet or directly to any PC using USB 2.0.
The NetDisk Office drive has a built-in eight-port 10/100M-bps switch, and a wireless version is due this fall.
The drive is easy to install. However, Ximeta does not use TCP/IP and instead relies on proprietary technology called NDAS (Network Direct Attached Storage).
NDAS enables the drive to attach to the network via Ethernet without a server, IP address or protocol. Bypassing TCP/IP, the drive can increase performance and keep data safe from hackers, according to Ximeta officials.
While performance was indeed impressive when I wrote files to and read files from the unit, the lack of TCP/IP made it impossible for me to access files from a Web browser when offsite, a capability I tend to shop for.
Using the drive in NDAS mode allows multiple LAN clients to have read and write access to the drive—as long as theyre Windows XP or Windows 2000 clients. Users of earlier versions of Windows, Mac OS X or Red Hat Linux are limited to single read/write access.
When on the network, all clients must have an Administrator program installed to access the drive, which shows up as a local hard disk drive.
If youre looking to back up files for a small, single-subnet network, its hard to beat the price of the drive. But if youre looking for something that will allow you to access files from anywhere, NetDisk Offices lack of TCP/IP means its no replacement for network-attached storage. In other words, you get what you pay for.
More information is available at www.ximeta.com.