Network Attached Storage Just Got Easy

By Lauren Simonds

June 15, 2004

If you can plug in a USB cable, you can add mega-storage to your small business network. Linksys shows you how.

Adding hundreds of gigabytes of storage to a network rates pretty high on the wish list of many small business owners, but all-too-frequently the technical and financial hurdles are both too steep to overcome. Today, Linksys announced a product it says will make adding network attached storage (NAS) as simple as plugging in a USB cable.

The Linksys Network Storage Link (NSLU2) features a built-in Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 ports. Attach the Storage Link to your network router or switch through the Ethernet port, plug up to two external USB hard drives (of any capacity, from any manufacturer) into the Storage Link, and you've got yourself lots of storage that anyone on your office network can access. Storage Link can also access the drives from the Internet, which makes it easy to download files using a Web browser. Of course, you get to determine which files are public or password protected for authorized use.

"Small offices are always looking for ways to add more gigabytes of storage capacity to their networks," says Steve Troyer, director of product marketing. "Storage Link lets users add additional storage quickly and affordably and, for the first time, laptop users can easily expand the storage capacity of their mobile PC by accessing the external hard drive connected to the Storage Link."

The product includes disk utilities (accessed through a Web browser) that let you format new disk drives and scan the drives for errors. You can schedule full, incremental or synchronization data backups with the built-in backup software, and have the unit send you e-mail notification when the drive is full.

When Marketing Plans Collide
In related news, Maxtor announced its new affiliation with Linksys, designed to foster product and technology developments between the two companies. Both Linksys and Maxtor are co-marketing the Network Storage Link and cross-promoting each company's products, with Linksys offering a $20 mail-in rebate on its product when purchased with a Maxtor OneTouch drive.

According to Stephen Di Franco, vice president of corporate branding and marketing, Linksys chose Maxtor as a partner because of the company's experience with educating consumers. "Maxtor's the only company that's taking the time to explain networking and storage to consumers," he says. "Sometimes it isn't about the technology. It's about the ease-of-use. We provide users with a high level of comfort."


Linksys Network Storage Link
Cheap and Easy: Add lots of inexpensive storage to your network with the Linksys Network Storage Link.

Di Franco wouldn't comment on Maxtor's role in technology collaboration with Linksys, but did say the company plans to launch a Web site geared to educating small- and home-office users about networking and storage. No official word when that site will go live.

And according to Mani Dhillon, a Linksys senior manager of product marketing, Linksys was looking to partner with a hard drive manufacturer because, while the company knows networking, it doesn't know the storage market as well. "We talked to several storage vendors," he says. "We chose Maxtor for two reasons: it's the market share leader, and our companies share similar goals and enthusiasm for creating affordable networked storage solutions."

No matter whose external drive you use, the Network Storage Link offers small businesses a very inexpensive way to add lots of network storage space. Dhillon points out that prior to the release of the Network Storage Link, the company's low-end NAS solution (the EFG 120) offered 120GB capacity for $800. Today, you can buy a 250GB drive and the Linksys device for a total cost of around $378.

Pricing and Availability

Starting today, you'll find the Network Storage Link available online and at select retailers and distributors. Estimated Street price: $99.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor at SmallBusinessComputing.com

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