In a world awash in external USB hard drives, the NAS – or Network Attached Storage – toils in relative obscurity. And that’s too bad, because for the networked home they can be an invaluable addition, taking a surprising amount of hassle out of everyday computing tasks.
A NAS is basically a hard drive bundled with a low-power computer that sits on your home network (router or switch), allowing you to access files from every computer on the network, along with tablets, smartphones and media players (PS3, Apple TV, Media Center PCs, etc.). You can use a NAS to centralize music libraries, documents, installation files, backups, video collections, photos, etc., all without a direct connection to your devices.
Several companies offer inexpensive NAS solutions and most are pretty good. But I’ve long been a fan of Buffalo Technology’s networking products, and their NAS offerings are no exception. The company’s newest home NAS is the LinkStation Live LS-X, available in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB capacities. The 2GB version, the LS-X2.0TL, retails for $219, but is available from Amazon.com for just $129 with free shipping – that’s cheaper than many external and internal hard drives with the same storage capacity.