Seagate's (http://www.seagate.com) GoFlex Home network storage system makes it relatively easy and works relatively quickly, though not without some caveats. (It also works with Windows systems, but, thankfully, there are none of those on my network).
When the Seagate solution is connected to a wireless router, its centralized storage system simplifies the backup and sharing process. You can wirelessly stream photos, movies and music to most network connected DLNA devices, such as game consoles or a GoFlex TV HD media player, from any room in the house.
The GoFlex Home comes in two parts: the external hard drive, which is the same as that of any GoFlex Desk drive, and the adapter/base. The latter sports a direct-attach connection (USB, FireWire, or eSATA), and the adapter of the GoFlex Home NAS server provides a Gigabit network connection.
Set-up is pretty much painless. Connect the supplied Ethernet cable to your router and to the Ethernet port on the GoFlex Home. Connect the supplied power adapter to a power outlet (DC 12V) and to the power port on GoFlex Home. Dock the drive into the base, then press the power button. Align the connector on the bottom of the drive with the connector in the base. Gently press down on the drive until it clicks into place, then press the power button.
Wait for the lights on the front of GoFlex Home to stop blinking. This may take a couple of minutes. Then power on your computer, then insert the GoFlex Home Installation CD, which will lead you through the rest of the installation process.
I had to try this three times before it worked (resetting the whole thing via the install CD) as I kept getting this message: "Too many redirects occurred trying to open 'http://10.0.1.8/?local=1&LOCALAUTH=dT1EU2VsbGVycyZ2PXBlYWNoMQA='. This might occur if you open a page that is redirected to open another page which then is redirected to open the original page."
This was a bit of a pain. In all fairness, I've spoken with others who've installed the GoFlex Home system without this hassle.
Anyway, once it works it creates a private share for your files, a private share for your backups, and provides access to a public share for each user that you create. If you want to be an admin who has full rights to all files, you're out of luck. Administrator rights merely allow you to create other users.
The GoFlex Home sports DLNA and iTunes servers. All media files placed in the "public" share are available to these, as are any files from private shares that are specifically shared with the media servers.
A nice touch is that the GoFlex Home is compatible with the Apple Time Machine, and includes a version of the backup application for both Mac OS X and Windows systems. Another nice touch: a modular design that allows the included drive to be upgraded by simply removing the drive from the base (no tools required) and replacing it with a higher capacity GoFlex Desk hard drive.
You can also add more storage to the GoFlex Home system by connecting additional drives to the USB port. Additionally, this same USB port can be used to wirelessly share a USB printer with every computer on the network.
As for performance, the GoFlex Home's write speed is good, but the read speed is much slower. In fact, the initial back-up process can be painfully slow.
The GoFlex Home is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities at suggested retail prices of US$159.99 and $229.99, respectively. But with multiple computers and users parceling out multimedia files, even the 2GB model will fill up quickly and you'll have to use the USB port to add more storage. In which case, it might be simpler to just invest in a multi-drive NAS.
The GoFlex Home system also offers a premium service option -- the Seagate Share Pro remote access service -- that allows families to access content stored on the drive from mobile devices such as an iPhone, iPad or BlackBerry, integrate photos or files with Facebook and Flickr, and keep friends and relatives updated with the latest shared files using Integrated RSS (Really Simple Syndication) notifications.
However, you'll need to have an Internet connection to set up the Share Pro feature as you'll have to enter a unique name for the NAS server and register it with Seagate. This name is later used to access the server remotely via the Internet.
The process is a bit cumbersome and means if you want to use the NAS server in an isolated network, you might be out of luck. However, once you've enabled sharing, all of the heavy lifting is done in the background, and you don't have to mess with it.
Though it has its flaws, the GoFlex Home is a reasonably priced solution if you'd like only one backup system for all of your computers in your home -- and the ability for them to simultaneously access all the files.
Macsimum rating: 7 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers