CD Ripping Chews Up Disc Space – is a NAS the Answer?
Today everyone wants high quality music, and if you own more than a handful of CDs that means a huge chunk of storage capacity. Not just for music, also your photos, your movies and of course the tedious stuff like correspondence. Along with your digital footprint there are those of your family members, all to be stored and also shared through your house. The answer isn’t just a large hard drive but one that’s shareable across the home. And on the move? Well, yes. People often have holiday homes, or have a mobile work pattern, or just want / need to be able to access files and folders away from base.
The Sunday Times yesterday ran an article looking at five different NAS drives – units of extra storage that is available on a home network and can be shared by multiple devices. Either wireless or linked by one of those blue (or maybe black, or quite possibly white) cables connected to your router, they give mobile devices and PCS access to files even when the main computer is switched off. Physically several are small enough and designed to be pocketable. Each device was ranked with a possible top score of five stars.
Five Stars: LaCie Fuel £140
A 1TB wi-fi drive, you can configure it so it both sits happily on your home network or take it away with you thanks to ten hours of battery life. Although it supports Windows and Android it is primarily tipped at Apple’s iDevices. The Times tags it “best for streaming”.
Four Stars: Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2
No internal storage but you can plug in USB sticks and memory cards, which I think you would need to pre-load with the files you want. “Keenly priced [£35] and uses cheap storage media” but some let-downs such as no manual, no USB charge lead, clunky software. Best for value.
Three Stars – It’s a Deadheat.
SanDisk Wireless Media Drive – £65 – Best for Portability
Transporter Sync – £80 – Best for fexibility
Comes without storage of your own but you can plug in a USB hard drive. For some reason if you plug in a pre-used hard drive it will be wiped on connection. Who thought that was a good idea. You can also access its files from home or anywhere else via a free web account. “Easy to set up, easyish to use”. We’ve been fans of the similar concept, the pogoplug, for years but note it hasn’t taken the world by storm.
Western Digital MyCloud Mirror – £240 – Best for backup
Quite why this was included is a bit beyond me, it’s a traditional NAS drive but over the top for most people. It houses two 2TB drives and data is written to each so if one fails you have a backup. It is hardwired into your router via ethernet and having lugged a few of these round London they aren’t devices you’ll want to take on holiday with you. However it offers a personal cloud service so you could access files from the beach over the web, that is assuming you can access the web where you are and you remember to keep the thing switched on while you’re away.
Reading through the side-bar text they mention the cost of storage for the Kingston and SanDisk units, which surprised me. I’ve been persuaded that the more you buy the cheaper it gets so a 64GB USB stick at £20 seemed reasonable (I remember buying one at £64) but a 128GB microSD card at £75 seemed expensive, comparing one with the other. Comparing both with a 1 TB compact USB hard drive at £45 makes both bad value for money.
I was also struck by something they didn’t say. If you have data on a laptop say, connected via w-fi to your home network, and you want to send data from that to your NAS you’re in for a surprise. It takes ages. So invest in a cheap bit of ethernet cable, switch off its wif-fi then plug your laptop into your router, save yourself hours.