"Delivers what it promises"3.0 starson by ksherinian
Pros: Allows the use of USB drives as Network Attached Storage, reliable
Cons: Slow, only allows two drives, does not work with USB hubs, must reformat hard drive before it can be used, no printer support, drives are NOT hot swappable
Summary: The NSLU2 is a great idea, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired. However, this device does fulfill its function, which is to allow the use of cheap USB drives as NAS without dedicating a computer to the task.
This device is quite small - about the size of a calculator. It is also quite light. Thus, finding a spot for it is very easy. Setting it up is not hard - PC software is included that can locate and configure the unit. One problem - if your present network is not configured as 192.168.1.X, then you will need to reconfigure your network to accomodate this device - it comes configured with a static address, and there is no way to change the address until it is attached to an appropriate network.
During setup, the software also installs a program on your PC that allows your computer to use the drive; from what I can tell, the application must be installed to use the attached drive. Once setup, you can attach a hard drive - note that you cannot hot swap drives; if you remove a drive while the device is operating, you must reset the device before reattaching the drive. Also, the device will not recognize the drive until it has reformatted it - a major pain if you have already been using the drive as a network backup. Once the drive is formatted, any computers on the network with the application are able to access the drive through the "My Network Places" location in windows explorer.
I must admit that I am disappointed by the NSLU2's performance. Prior to installing this device, I had a separate computer acting as a file / print server. Transfers to the USB drive in that setup occurred at approximately 18Mbps for large files. With the NSLU2 the highest transfer rate that I get is around 3Mbps.
The NSLU2 unfortuneately does not work with USB hubs. I suppose you could purchase more NSLU2s to add additional drives, but given that my wireless router only has four ethernet ports, and three are now taken, that is not a promising approach. Hopefully, this issue will be rectified in a future firmware release.
Lastly, the NSLU2 does not work with printers. Thus, you will need a separate print server if you need to hook USB printers to your network.
Overall, despite many of the negative points I raised, I am satisfied with the NSLU2. It allows the attachment of NAS at a reasonable cost, has no reliability issues, and is reasonably easy to setup. If that fits your needs (as it does mine), then I would not hesitate to recommend it.Updated
The performance of this device is actually quite good. My network is capable of about 18 Mbps file transfers computer to computer, and this device appears capable of roughly the same. This implies that the transfer speed is limited by the network - thus performance is actually quite acceptable. Nonetheless, I am leaving my original rating undisturbed at 'Good'.Updated
The performance of this device is actually quite good. My network is capable of about 18 Mbps file transfers computer to computer, and this device appears capable of roughly the same. This implies that the transfer speed is limited by the network - thus performance is actually quite acceptable. Nonetheless, I am leaving my original rating undisturbed at 'Good'.