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Maxtor Shared Storage Plus NAS box

An easy-to-use networked back-up drive for home or the office

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Review With more and more data ending up on your PC, from your music collection to your photo library, not to mention work and applications, it's more important than ever to keep your computer backed up. Hard drives fail, they get dropped, they get nicked. Most of us would be made pretty miserable if our data went up the Swanee too...

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All well and good, but is there an easy way of protecting all this valuable information? Size is an issue, of course - with ever increasing hard drives sizes, it can be hard to find a suitably capacious back-up archive, especially if you make changes on a daily basis.

This is where the Maxtor Shared Storage Plus (SSP) comes in. On the surface it seems just another network-attached-storage box, but thanks to some clever software and an easy-to-use interface, Maxtor has made its product much more accessible than most rival NAS boxes. It might not be the most secure solution out there - it's only using a single hard drive - but that makes it affordable and ideal for home or SOHO use. You can set up multiple user accounts, so it can be used by several users, each with his or her own private folders.

The unit looks like many of Maxtor's older OneTouch external hard drives, but the case is much longer. The chassis is made out of aluminium and it feels very solid. It's supplied with a plastic stand for space-saving vertical mounting. Around the back is a 10/100Mbps Ethernet connector and two USB ports.

Alas, the USB connectors can't be used for PC connectivity. They're for attaching printers or USB storage devices. I hooked up my Canon i865 printer, and the two computers I have at home could both use it perfectly. But make sure you check the Maxtor website for printer compatibility as not all USB printers are guaranteed to work with the SSP, and printer sharing only works under Windows.

You can also use the SSP for streaming music, photos and video over your network to compatible devices, but the player has to support the UPnP Digital Media Adapter specification or it won't work. The good news for Mac users is that the SSP is compatible with OS X, although as I don't own a Mac I can't vouch for how well it works.

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