External storage drives make it easy for SMBs to store crucial data. One drawback, however, is that you typically need to buy one drive per PC, which means that only one person at a time can access it. Recognizing an inefficient setup when it sees one, Maxtor came up with a product it says makes it easy and affordable for SMBs to make data available to multiple employees: The Maxtor Shared Storage Solution.
Essentially, the Maxtor Shared Storage Solution (MSSS) is an external hard drive with extra electronics that turns it into a networked storage device. About two-inches longer than the Maxtor OneTouch II, the MSSS plugs into a network router (either wired or wireless) through a 10/100 Ethernet port. According to Paul Streit, a Maxtor senior manager, the device automatically configures all of the network settings.
"Most network products require a lot of tech support. Our goal was to make this product easy for people to install and use," he said. "You don't need to know any network jargon to install the drive."
Streit said that once the drive is installed on the network, each person who will use it runs a quick-start CD on his or her networked PC. The CD places an icon on the desktop so they can quickly access a shared public folder and personal network folders on the MSSS.
The MSSS is designed to support one to 20 PCs using it simultaneously. Striet points out that as more and more people access the drive at the same time, the drive's performance speed will take a dip. "If 20 people are using the drive at once, you will notice that it takes a bit longer to open, save or copy a file," he said.
Drag and Organize Availability and Pricing Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
Designed to expand beyond storage, the MSSS includes two USB ports that let you add and share either one or two USB printers or external hard drives or one of each. Streit said that by adding two more USB external drives, the device's total storage capacity can reach 900GB. While the MSSS handles USB printers, it doesn't work with multifunction devices.
One for All It may look like an ordinary external hard drive, but Maxtor designed its Shared Storage Solution as a network device the whole office can access.
According to Streit, Maxtor developed a technology (patent pending) called Drag and Sort that's designed to make organizing files easier. "You can randomly select a bunch of files," said Streit, "drag them to the Maxtor icon on your desktop, and MSSS sorts the files into pre-defined categories or folders." Streit said the device sorts by file format only, not by content, and that it's capable of recognizing 100 different file extensions.
The Maxtor Shared Storage Solution should be on shelves at major retailers and distributors (and online stores) in mid-February. Available in two sizes, the 200GB version sells for $299.95 and the 300GB model costs $399.95.
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Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com