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Network storage, cheap and fast

Apr 14, 20042 mins
Data Center

* Ximeta has the right idea with the $100 NetDisk

In a recent column on the problems facing the home network storage market (see editorial link below), I mentioned Ximeta, a hardware vendor that sells a network storage device called NetDisk starting at around $100 for the 80G-byte version. (There are also 120G-byte, 160G-byte and 250G-byte versions.) The product is based on the company’s patented NDAS technology, part of why it can keep the cost low.

NDAS, or Network Direct Attached Storage, saves the cost of adding a processor to a networked hard disk by using the processing power of the PC. So instead of putting a dedicated processor and operating system on the disk, the company treats Ethernet, or 802.11, as another local bus, such as USB. In other words, you can connect the NetDisk to your network directly via Ethernet or through your PC via USB.

When you connect the NetDisk to your PC, it appears as a local drive in Windows My Computer rather than a device in My Network Places. Of course, to network the device, you need to load the software client on all your PCs, but that only took me about 10 minutes to load and configure; not a big deal. The software offers pretty much the same functionality as basic NAS devices, including mirroring and automated backup. 

In testing, I found it’s faster than some devices, too. In my own network storage “bake off,” I tested a Ximeta NetDisk against a more traditional NAS, the D-Link Central Home Drive. To test data throughput, I connected both drives to Fast Ethernet ports on my Linksys router, then saved a 750M-byte file to each.   

The results? The NDAS disk beat the D-Link Central Home Drive by a minute. Good, but probably not enough to influence your purchase decision. What is enough is the (at least) $100 difference in price.

Editor’s note: This marks the last installment of Mike Wolf’s column. Next time, Network World’s Keith Shaw debuts his home networking column.