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Don Watkins

Cheap NAS. Attach a USB drive to your network - Addonics NAS Adapter

By Don Watkins

 
 
 

 

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is cool. Cheap external USB drives are cool. Addonics makes it easy AND cheap for you to hook up an external USB drive to your network and get some cheap NAS.

I was in conflict, spend some pretty big bucks on a full blown NAS device or hang another USB drive off my computer and lug it around. I wasn't big on the idea of springing for the money that a nice, big NAS was going to run but still, lugging around a USB drive and safely removing it didn't appeal to me either.

Wow, wouldn't it be great if I could just hook up a USB drive to the network, that'd solve all my problems. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to make an RJ-45 network connector fit into a USB receptacle. Of course even if I could it wouldn't work, two different "languages".

Then I ran into the "NAS Adapter" from Addonics which promises to add any USB storage device onto your LAN so I promptly got one ordered from Addonics. I didn't pay too much attention to the size when I order it and when it arrived I wondered if something so small could actually "do" anything. After all, the actual NAS Adapter is smaller than the power adapter.

I plugged it in and ran the "discovery" program that immediately identified the device on my network. Logging into that IP address from my browser instantly brought up the administration panel. Set up was easy, I made some quick modifications to configure it to my network specifics; workgroup name, use DHCP, don't be a DHCP server and the like. Ready to go I attached a drive.

Attaching the drive I found my first "gotcha"; the adapter really wants to format the drive. No, that's wrong, it's going to format the drive regardless. I was hoping to cheat and put some really big files on the drive while it was attached to a computer so they'd go faster but no way, the NAS adapter insists that it do the formatting which is did (and quickly as well). It formatted a 1Tb drive with FAT32 in less than a minute. After the drive was formatted by the NAS Adapter it could be removed from the NAS adapter and hooked directly to a PC USB port with access to all the files.

Another disk feature that bears mention is the ability to put the attached USB drive to sleep after a set period of time.

Once formatted the drive was immediately visible to my network. A couple of clicks later and I had ftp up and running which was a bit speedier since it bypassed the overhead of Windows networking. Both worked flawlessly. It couldn't have been easier.

There were also three other features that bear mention.

There is a "Media Server" facility that apparently works with the X-box for photos, music and video. I don't have an x-box so I couldn't test it but I'm guessing this supplies the same facilities as XP-MCE and the Windows Home Server. Again just a guess.

There is a printer server facility which, again guessing, you could hook up a USB printer for network sharing. Don't have one to try.

Finally, and perhaps most interesting, there is a BitTorrent client included with the NAS Adapter firmware. Simply set up the torrent using the file chooser, select a download path and off it goes. It's not that a BitTorrent client uses a huge amount of PC resources but some of those super slow 2 day downloads might prompt you to keep your computer running full time. By using the NAS Adapter client you can do whatever you like with your PC and the torrent does its thing on the NAS Adapter.

Way cool.

It'll take up to 4 active torrents at a time and highlighting them in the download queue and clicking the "show" button returns some pretty detailed info, less that you'd get with a full BitTorrent client, but still plenty of information to let you know what's going on. In addition it's possible to set it up to email you when the download is finished.

Overall this is one handy device, just what the doctor ordered for attaching an inexpensive USB drive to your network.

Get some network storage for cheap. Pick up the NAS Adapter for $80 or so.

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