For small businesses, or those of us with home networks that are almost as heavily used, network sharing is an all-too-real necessity. The StorCenter from Iomega gives you quick and easy control over 500GB of network storage space, as well as some other useful functions, though you're paying a premium of up to $300 over a plain 500GB external drive for these network utilities.
The two installed 250GB drives come defaulted in a RAID 0 (striping) array for greater speed, but can also be set to RAID 1 (mirroring) and JBOD (just a bunch of disks) depending on your requirements. Although it only managed to transfer at 5MB over a 10/100 network, around half the speed of other devices we looked at recently, it's capable of handling a gigabit connection on which greater speeds would be achievable. What makes this unit worth a look is the diversity of functions and the simplicity with which everything can be set-up. Designed to attach to a router or hub, the StorCenter is accessed from each workstation by installing the included "Discovery" software, which automatically detects the drive and assigns it a drive letter. The StorCenter can act as network printer server, FTP server, or even as a media server, streaming photos, music or movies to your TV via a digital media adapter (DMA). Using the "Discovery" interface, it's a quick step to create a share folder with permissions and allocate storage to users. The Iomega Automatic Backup will not only create a system recovery backup, which can be automated or scheduled, but will also perform backups of selected data and automatically add updates or additions to the backup as time goes on, a handy tool.