On the rear are two USB ports for printers, hard disks or USB flash drives. Backups to an external disk are easily made via an option in the management interface.
More interesting features include Drag and Sort. As with the original Shared Storage Drive, this allows you to drag a selection of files onto a shortcut icon on your Desktop and the drive will automatically sort the files into the correct folders on the disk. Music files will be copied into OurMusic, photos into OurPhotos, and DOC, XLS and PPT files into OurDocuments. You can also configure any file extensions not supported by default.
The Shared Storage II is also a UPnP media server and an iTunes DAAP (Digital Audio Access Protocol) server. The latter makes music available to iTunes users on your network. As the music is played back via iTunes, protected AAC files can be played – something that isn’t supported if you’re using the UPnP server with a device like the Squeezebox.
However, the Maxtor isn’t perfect. We’d have liked a USB port and a power button on the front, and an FTP server. Group accounts and user quotas are absent too, making the Maxtor less suited to business use.
Given these missing features, you might wonder how the Shared Storage II wins the Labs, and the answer lies in its price, performance and quietness. Transfer speeds were the quickest we saw. Writing 1.3GB to the drive took less than two minutes, equating to 11.6MB/s. Reading was quicker still at 18.1MB/s, meaning several users can stream content simultaneously. And those wanting peace and quiet will appreciate the near-silent running. We measured 36dBA when idle and only 38dBA when seeking.
If you need an FTP server, the Buffalo is a good alternative, but otherwise the Maxtor is a superb choice for home use.
Superb performance, quiet running and excellent value for home use, especially if you want to stream media.