Transfer speed 480Mbps
Dimensions 160.1 x 199.2 x1 96.2mm
8TB of storage allocation in a toaster -sized package. Easy setup. Low power consumption compared to other network storage
FTP server and USB ports, but remote access requires Windows. Supplied software is Windows-only so other back-up tools will be required
Massive storage usually equates to a massive footprint on your desk or place of work. The Western Digital ShareSpace is, for its 8TB storage allocation, relatively compact – about the size of a toaster and much smaller than a desktop-size server. Powered by a Linux OS, the network-attached device – which you connect to a router using an Ethernet cable – works with Linux computers, although the remote access is Windows-only for now. For those working in digital media markets who need fast and expansive storage, or for an office workgroup that needs a place for everyone’s files, the ShareSpace is an ideal product that’s easy to configure and use, with only a few minor issues.
Setting up the ShareSpace is extremely easy. Once you make the power and Ethernet connections to your router, you can follow a quick browser-based setup. (You will need to know the IP address of the drive, but that is easy to find through your router admin page.) You can configure a few extra features, such email alerts that you receive when the drive space is running low.
The ShareSpace comes in three versions with 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB capacities. You can upgrade the unit with additional drives. The NAS supports RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 5. As a Gigabit Ethernet storage device, the ShareSpace transfers files quickly – as long as you have a matching router that has Gigabit ports. The drive is DLNA-certified so it works for streaming media to a videogames console, media adaptor (such as the Linux-powered Netgear Digital Entertainer Elite we tested it with) or PC. The ShareSpace has three USB ports; when you connect a USB hard disk, you can push a button on the NAS to transfer all data from the connected drive without using a PC – a time-saving feature.
The drive, being a recent release from Western Digital, uses new green power techniques to keep power consumption low – about 33% lower than previous network storage drives. This means you will be more likely to just keep the drive running throughout the day and night, knowing it is not causing excessive damage to the environment. The ShareSpace also uses a more efficient cooling technology to keep the NAS from overheating and from having the fans run constantly. The ShareSpace runs quiet in an office setting, as opposed to the constant whir of a full server or older NAS.
Transfer speeds were remarkably fast. A 2GB collection of video and music files numbering in the thousands took only 90 seconds to transfer from a Lenovo S12 laptop running Ubuntu 9. The drives are easily swappable on the ShareSpace, and unit comes with a built-in FTP server. Lights on the unit show alerts for drive capacity, but do not show as much detail as products from Seagate and Netgear that have LCD displays and show capacities and any problems with backups.
Backups, which depend greatly on disk access speed as well as network speed, are sometimes the differentiating factor for network-attached devices – especially compared with Windows Home Server devices like those made by Velocity Micro and HP – because there is often not a lot of flexibility. The ShareSpace is fairly limited in this regard because the included software is Windows-only, but Linux users can still perform backups with tools such as Zmanda or Unison. Equally limiting, the Mio remote access software is also Windows-only. That said, the ShareSpace is still a smart network appliance because of the performance, mass storage and smaller-than-normal footprint.
The drive is small enough to fit on a desk without taking it over and file transfers are speedy thanks to Gigabit Ethernet. On the downside there are cheaper drives that boast a larger capacity although the unit does still offer good value for money.