Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Posted by Jon Westfall in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM
Product Category: Network Attached Storage System
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $159.00 USD
System Requirements: Router with an available Ethernet port–WiFi router required for wireless file access and backup; Internet connection for activation and Internet file sharing; Internet Explorer® 7, Firefox® 3.x, Chrome 4.x, Safari® 3, or later web browser; Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, Windows® XP or Mac OS® X 10.4.9 or later operating system, and, of course, data needing to be stored.
Specifications: 3.13in L x 5.31in W x 6.75in H (80mm x 135mm x 171mm). Weight: 2.81lb (1.28kg); Available in 1 TB and 2 TB sizes.
- Small & Self Contained;
- Basic Backup Software Included;
- USB Port.
- Administrative Interface Is Not User Friendly;
- Flaky Time Machine Backups;
- Lack of SSH Access.
Summary: Seagate's GoFlex Home Provides a bare-bones Network Attached Storage (NAS) System for a reasonable price. It's set-and-forget configuration lets you rest easy knowing your backups are done automatically in the background while you work or sleep. But does it do enough for hardcore users? And will it keep normal users safe?
Getting It Set Up
The GoFlex Home system is fairly simple to configure, both the hardware and the software. After unboxing, one merely places the hard drive into the small cradle and follows the simple directions: make sure power switch is off, plug into power, plug into router (using included Ethernet cable), and turn on. By the time you find a suitable place for it near your router, it's booted up and ready to be found on the network.
The included disk, which works for both Mac and PC clients, should be guarded carefully - at this point I don't believe Seagate has the software available online! I performed the initial configuration on my Macbook Pro and found it pretty straight forward - the installed stepped me through finding the device, which was pretty easy as it gets it's own address from the router through DHCP, and setting up an administrative user and password. You can assign it a static IP later through the web configuration utility.
On the PC, Seagate has included a customized version of Memeo Instant Backup, and trials of other Memeo products in case you'd like to try them. On the Mac, Seagate has a utility that will allow Time Machine to see the drive as a backup device similar to Apple Time Capsules. The setup on the PC is much easier than on the Mac, and seems less likely to die. Twice now I've had the Mac backup become corrupted and need to be re-backed-up entirely. This might not be a big deal for a desktop system, but it is quite a problem with a laptop. My Macbook only backs up when it's on and in use, so when the lid is closed and the system is in standby, no backups. My Macbook also is usually only connected to my network through WiFi. And, finally, it has approximately 100 GB of data to back up.
These three things mean that my Macbook will NEVER backup on it's own unless I leave it open with an Ethernet cable connecting it to the router overnight. Or maybe two nights. I wouldn't mind doing this once, but in three weeks it's needed the complete backup three times, so one might want to steer clear of the GoFlex if your only systems are Mac laptops. Mac desktops would probably do better with a Time Capsule, but in a mixed household (like mine, Macs and PCs living in harmony), the GoFlex may be a good addition.
The initial backup experience could be described as long and "dangerous". Painful it was not - once I set up the software, it backed up diligently. Long though - with about 500 GB of data to back up over 2 machines, the backups took quite awhile. Dangerous because in order to facilitate a faster backup, I had to break out the trusty 50 ft. of Ethernet cabling to run a line straight to the machines; so one needed to be careful on those nights in the house, not to accidentally trip!
You won't find anything fancy with the included software on the PC - it's pretty bare bones. It seeks out types of files you're likely to want to back up, but will allow you to add specific folders and Windows Mail data. On the Mac, configuration is extremely limited as well. Once it's set up, Time Machine has it's own schedule it tries to maintain, and as I said, if anything goes wrong with the connection between the computer and the disk (like say going into standby at the wrong time), it may corrupt the entire backup, requiring a re-backup.